Connect with us

Thailand

Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Rising costs new threat; PM mum on Cabinet; Teacher cheats to be sacked; Four arrested over Asia Hotel blast

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

on

Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Rising costs new threat; PM mum on Cabinet; Teacher cheats to be sacked; Four arrested over Asia Hotel blast | The Thaiger

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

Rising costs greatest threat to govt
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The increasing cost of living was cited as the major factor threatening to weaken public support for the Yingluck government in a poll by Assumption University.

Higher cost of living was cited as the most likely cause of a drop in support for the government by 85.2 per cent of the 2,115 respondents in 17 provinces. Charter amendment (81.9 per cent) was the second most cited threat to the government’s stability.

Of all respondents, 73.8 per cent believed that constant efforts to explain its policies to the public could strengthen the government’s stability, while 55.9 per cent said they want the Yingluck government to complete its four-year term.

A separate poll by Suan Dusit showed that the Thai public expects the political conflict to intensify, following opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s speculation that a general election may take place late this year.

The Yingluck government took office in August 2011.

Of 1,316 respondents, 43.35 per cent believed that Abhisit’s speculation would intensify political conflicts, while 20.23 per cent said the government’s performance will be the best sign of whether a general electionwill be called early. Only 6.95 per cent believed that there would be a general election late this year as Abhisit suggested.

Asked if they wanted to see a vote late this year, 44.80 per cent said no, saying it would be a waste of money and lead to political instability.

PM has no plan to reshuffle Cabinet
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva yesterday dismissed media reports that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is planning a Cabinet reshuffle.

Red-shirt leaders Jatuporn Prompan, Apiwan Wiriyachai and Pakorn Buranupakorn were reported to be likely appointments as ministers in the next Cabinet reshuffle expected early next month, according to a source from the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

Suranand said although all the names shown in the press are knowledgeable and suitable candidates, the PM has not thought of reshuffling the Cabinet now, adding that Yingluck has a tight work schedule in May and June.

Suranand said the party had been checking who was behind the rumour as it suspected the role of political opponents trying to shake the government’s stability.

Dr Weng Tochirakarn, a leader of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD) denied having any knowledge of Jatuporn’s likely appointment as deputy Interior Minister. He also disapproved of criticism that Jatuporn’s taking up of a Cabinet post would affect the longevity of the government.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the Cabinet reshuffle report was just a rumour, adding the PM has not sent any signal to the party executive board about her intention to make changes to the Cabinet.

He also rejected criticism that Jatuporn would be like “lightning rod’ that would cause the government to collapse, saying if Jatuporn is given a Cabinet post, it means he has the potential to help push government policies in Parliament.

Suporn Attawong, deputy secretary-general to the PM, said Jatuporn deserved a Cabinet post because he had “helped the party to the best of his ability on the battle frontline”.

Suporn asked reporters if his name is also in the list with Jatuporn, adding while wiping away mock tears that he would be hurt if he was not included.

DAAD leader Thida Thawornseth congratulated Jatuporn if the report about him is true.

Assistant teachers to be fired in cheating scandal
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Six newly appointed assistant teachers in Nakhon Ratchasima accused of being involved in exam cheating will be dismissed – while the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has called for an ultimate total of 344 people allegedly involved in the scandal to lose their jobs as government officials.

Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana will soon discuss with his deputy minister if he will set up a disciplinary committee to inspect high-ranking officials suspected of wrongly declining to perform duties, which led to the exam scandal.

Pisit Chotking, director of Nakhon Ratchasima Primary Educational Service Area Office 3, said yesterday that it was preparing to dismiss six newly appointed assistant teachers at schools under his office’s supervision.

The DSI had advised the office and 118 other offices to dismiss 344 assistant teachers accused of cheating in the exam.

Of these 344 suspects, 48 assistant teachers allegedly involved in the scandal were from Nakhon Ratchasima.

Pisit said his office was reported to have eight people accused of being involved. He was waiting for an official letter from the Office of the Teacher Civil Service and Educational Personnel Commission (OTEPC) to allow OTEPC’s subcommittees in each educational zone to revoke the appointments of the alleged cheaters. He will then attend a meeting with the subcommittee in his educational zone and later send a letter to instruct schools to dismiss six of the assistant teachers.

The DSI could also summon for interrogation another two alleged cheats who had not been appointed assistant teachers.

Previously, Phongthep insisted that OTEPC’s meeting clearly resolved last Friday that the 344 cheats would be removed from their positions as government officials.

Phongthep said Deputy Education Minister Sermsak Pongpanich would soon report to him findings concluded by a fact-finding panel on the exam cheating. They would discuss if he should set up a disciplinary committee to inspect four high-ranking officials at Office of the Basic Education Commission accused of wrongly refusing to perform duties or not.

He added that the accused officials would be allowed to explain.

Four arrested for blast at hotel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Four suspects were arrested on Saturday in connection with an explosion at a Narathiwat hotel in the morning that left six people injured.

The bombing took place at around 11am at Asia Hotel, in Sungai Kolok district of the southernmost Muslim-majority province. Rooms 306 and 307 on the third floor of the hotel were severely damaged. The impact of the explosion brought down the ceilings of both rooms.

An explosive ordnance disposal team inspected the hotel following the explosion. Police said they believed the explosion was caused by a home-made explosive device weighing at least five kilograms. The bomb was hidden in a bin that served as an ashtray.

Police are trying to find out whether the hotel was the target of the insurgent attack or whether a bomb intended for an attack elsewhere went off prematurely while insurgents were putting it together, according to hotel owner Amporn Wongthirarit.

Six persons – five women and one man – were wounded in the explosion. All of them were sent to Sungai Kolok Hospital for treatment.

Asia Hotel is not far from the Pro Computer and OA Thailand companies, which were severely damaged by

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Expats

Mandatory health insurance details for some visas announced this week

The Thaiger

Published

on

Mandatory health insurance details for some visas announced this week | The Thaiger

Details on the proposed mandatory health insurance requirements for Non-Immigrant O-A visas will be made next week, according to ThaiVisa.

A senior executive from one of the insurance companies involved in the scheme told ThaiVisa that the Office of Insurance Commission, Ministry of Public Health, Foreign Ministry and Immigration Bureau will announce the insurance requirements for Non-Immigrant O-A visas on August 22.

Last May it was proposed that foreigners applying for Non-Immigrant O-A visas would be required to have health insurance that offers 40,000 baht outpatient coverage and 400,000 baht inpatient coverage. The details, along with other information, is expected to be confirmed this week.

Officials say the mandatory health insurance requirement was proposed to help Thailand cope with the large number of unpaid medical bills from foreigners who use Thai hospitals.

The mandatory health insurance requirement has only been proposed for Non-Immigrant O-A visas and not for other visas or extensions of stay.

SOURCE: ThaiVisa

Continue Reading

Expats

Ten things the Thai Government could to do right now

The Thaiger

Published

on

Ten things the Thai Government could to do right now | The Thaiger

OPINION

Thailand is a proud country with a rich cultural tradition. And great food. Expats and visitors have been flocking to the Land of Smiles for a century, especially the last 20 years when tourism has surged to become a major contributor to the country’s GDP.

But the veneer of a never-ending rise in tourism numbers lost some of its gloss with tourism officials, perennially optimistic and talking-up the numbers, when they were forced to admit that tourism dropped in Q2 this year. The numbers have rebounded since then with tour operators and hotels reporting a buoyant Q3 and good bookings ahead into the high-season.

But it wasn’t just tourism, living as an expat has become increasingly complex and expensive for many. There is a perception that “we’re not wanted here anymore” which is an uncomfortable feeling to have when you just want to enjoy living in the country you love and contribute to its economy by participating.

That the issues are now making headlines in Thai media is bad press for the Land of Smiles.

The rise in value of the Thai baht against some currencies, the enforcement (and ongoing confusion) over the TM30 and more scrutiny on some of the visa options for long-termers, all added to a malaise in the world economy, is making travelling to, and living in Thailand, a bit more challenging than in the past.

Here are ten suggestions, published in good faith, we believe should be implemented to address key problems.

Make it easier to do business

Between the mountains of paperwork, public service attitude, language barriers and fierce protectionism, doing business in Thailand as a foreigner is not easy. The need to have a small army of accountants and ‘Thai Nominees’ is just a part of the problem. The endless red tape and hurdles put up by the Thai Government, and the patchy application of some of these requirements, make running a business professionally an ongoing challenge.

Make it easier to apply for, and maintain, visas

There are quite a few visas available for tourists and expats to come to Thailand . But the goal posts keep being shifted and the requirements continually change. Thinly-veiled corruption and variations of how the various visas are applied have made getting and maintaining a proper visa in Thailand challenging.

Tourist visas would also benefit from increasing possible length of stays and reducing paperwork before and upon arrival. There is currently a waiver of visa fees for some countries up to the end of October 2019.

A long-term resident visa would also be welcome. Given the current difficulty of being eligible and getting a long-term resident visa in Thailand does little attract real long-term retirees who still need to do 90 day reporting, annual visa extensions and worry about the TM30 form every time they travel.

Immigration officials, around the country, control their own local fiefdoms where the ‘guidelines’ are just guidelines and are interpreted differently on different days by different officials. Apart from confusing the expats and tourists, these systems provide lucrative opportunities for blackmail and corruption.

A smile could help sometimes too.

Rebuild the Tourism Authority of Thailand

Whilst the reasons for Thailand’s droop in tourist numbers for Q2 this year are many and varied, the body who has been marketing Brand Thailand is the Tourism Authority of Thailand. They have made countless mis-steps and strategic errors in the past decade and must shoulder part of the responsibility for some of the systemic problems, including the over-reliance on just a few national demographics.

A proper, independent, tourist organisation with a professional, modern marketing team with international experience, not just Thais, is a must. Thailand’s ‘charm’ is no longer enough in the highly competitive world of international tourism. Around SE Asia there are now emerging destinations that are simply doing a better job than the team at the TAT who are, like the national airline, beset with nepotism and long-termers who should have been fired a decade ago.

Just about every aspect of tourism in Thailand needs to be updated, cleaned-up and improved and the TAT are just the wrong people to do it. They’ve strategically been chasing an unsustainable tourist mix and placed all their marketing eggs in few baskets.

Whilst they spend large amounts travelling the world and participating in travel expos, they too need to follow the rest of the world online and have their staff populating the world of social media, all day, everyday. Whatever they’re doing on social media now, multiply by 100!

Working under the auspices of the Department of Sports and Tourism hasn’t worked well for the TAT. The Government now needs a dedicated Department of Tourism is they are to maintain the percentage of GDP garnered from tourists into the third decade of the 21st century.

Urgently and aggressively address tourist safety

The fall-out from the Phuket Boat Tragedy is still being felt and has left a poor impression of safety for tourists. A year later and what has changed?

Speaking of Phuket, the shameful handling of the local lifeguard contracts has been a direct reason for drownings along the island’s west coast in recent years. The dithering of contractual arrangements and personality clashes took precedence over hiring, up-skilling and deploying a professional lifeguard service to protect beachgoers.

Around the country the reports of safety lapses causing death and injury to tourists are alarming in their frequency. Tour bus crashes, boats capsizing, renting out motorbikes to unlicensed drivers and tourist attraction safety standards. Problems associated with all of these are mostly preventable.

Change the company law

Part of the problem of doing business in Thailand is that, no matter how good you are, you never really own the legal framework that defines your business. A foreigner can only own 49% of the shares in a Thai company. This protectionist business law is a major barrier for foreigners to invest in Thailand making it difficult, or impossible to attract additional investment or plant to sell your business down the track.

There are provisions for larger enterprises to register a 100% foreign owned Board of Investment (BOI) business but these are quite complicated and expensive to set up and only available for limited industries.

  • Agriculture and Agricultural Products
  • Mining Ceramics and Basic Metals
  • Light Industry
  • Metal Products, Machinery and Transport Equipment
  • Electronic Industry and Electric Appliances
  • Chemicals, Paper and Plastics
  • Services and Public Utlities
  • Technology and Innovation Development

Providing a more flexible and easier company law, with more options for small to medium companies, would allow Thailand to attract a much larger number of international business people.

Smile

It’s meant to be the Land of Smiles. But arrive at any checkpoint or airport as you land in or depart Thailand and your first and last impressions are of unhappy, scowling immigration officials. And if you arrive at the wrong time at an airport the queues can be horrendous.

The situation may be similar at any international airports around the world, but when you pin your whole brand around being a Land of Smiles, you could at least try. It is, after all, the first impression.

Now they’ve added an additional layer of checking you in and out of the country with a fingerprint and iris scan. Taking a copy of all your finger and thumb prints just adds another 30 seconds or so as you arrive and depart… multiplied by x number of tourists waiting in line.

The same applies for some, probably more than in the past, of retailers who seem to spend a lot more time scrolling on their phone rather than attending to their customers these days. Some just don’t like being interrupted and, if you’re not buying, give you attitude rather than a simple acknowledgement.

Address the currency

To be fair there is only a limited number of levers to pull for Thai treasury officials that could ‘force’ the Thai baht to a lower value. Short of printing new Thai baht bills (which would also push up inflation), there are limits to what a modern government can do in an open international currency trading world.

Still, local businesses in tourist regions could take some control and reduce the ‘tourist’ prices and stop the blatant rip-offs aimed at solely extracting money from tourists’ pockets. Buy a Big Mac in the middle of Patong or Pattaya, then drive 3 kilometres away to another McDonalds and note the difference in price. Just maintaining your high prices and hoping for the best isn’t going to win new business.

The two-tier pricing is also a slap in the face for tourists (and most expats) which smacks of xenophobia or greed. Even the word ‘farang’ denotes an attitude to caucasian foreigners, either of derision or as walking ATMs.

Name and shame scammers

Scams have been part of the tourist game forever in Thailand. Some are just a silly punt at extracting a few extra baht from unsuspecting tourists, others are down-right dangerous, offend tourists and end up as a Facebook post. When these scammers get outed and charged (rarely) the fines and punishment are often perfunctory and are not a deterrent to other would-be scammers.

There should be a register of these annoying tourist rip-offs and schemes which is posted on some website where the ‘shame’ can act as a better deterrent using the Asian concept of ‘losing face’ as a weapon to combat scammers and prevent more from flourishing.

Or simply track down, punish the current scammers and fine them more often.

Make it easier to buy property

You see a property. You like it. You negotiate a price and want to buy it. That’s usually where it starts to get difficult. Foreigners cannot buy land or the land that their villa is sitting on. Many have got around these laws by leasing the land or forming a Thai company to do the transaction. In both cases the ‘buyer’ is never really the ‘owner’ and, whilst working reasonably well for 30 years, is still a long way around a fairly simple situation. The only winners are lawyers as they help foreign buyers navigate the labyrinth of Thai property and company law.

With the law allowing foreigners to own condominiums 100% (as long as 51% of the available units in the development is owned by Thais), developers have raced to build condos to feed the foreign buyer interest in Thai property.

Whilst appreciating the history of keeping Thailand for ‘Thais’ there should also be at least another easy option for foreigners to participate in the freehold market to better internationalising Thai property.

24 hour reporting of address (TM30) needs to be simplified or streamlined

The requirement for foreigners to report their residential location within 24 hours of a change of address, and the current confusion around the matter, should be clarified. The law applies to expats, forcing them to report to Immigration when they return from a weekend away or a business trip. Or their reluctant landlord is responsible. The actual guidelines lead to more questions, rather than providing answers, and the enforcement is applied ad-hoc.

If the report could be done ‘easily’ online on an effective, easy-to-use, reliable webpage or App, that would certainly help. Currently there is an App and a website but the successes for using it are ‘lumpy’ and users could be involved in making the process simpler.

We acknowledge the Thai government’s right to keep a track of foreign visitors but also think a streamlined, clear process would assist everyone and lead to better results for the Immigration team and better compliance by foreigners.

Continue Reading

Thai Life

Thai Government seeks public opinion on civil same-sex union bill

The Thaiger

Published

on

Thai Government seeks public opinion on civil same-sex union bill | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The Thai justice minister is insisting that draft legislation for civil partnerships of same-sex couples won’t be rushed and that the department is waiting for public feedback on the proposal.

Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin says the process will take time as it requires “careful deliberation to prevent any misunderstanding”.

Somsak made the comments yesterday whilst chairing a forum on the Bill. The Bill was agreed in principle on December 25, 2018 and relevant departments are now working on a final draft. The Bill will need to be passed by the new Lower House but there is no timeline on the legislation reaching the House at this stage.

The Justice Ministry is holding public forums to evaluate public opinion on some of the legislation’s contentious issues.

• The Bill stipulates conditions for terminating registration of civil partnerships.

• The Bill fails to include the right for same-sex couples to adopt children or the right to receive state welfare benefits, even though same-sex couples have the right to adopt children under the existing Child Adoption Act.

• Those who register for civil partnership must be a minimum of 17 years old and obtain their parental consent. 

• Feedback on the Bill must be sent back to the Council of State by next month for a final draft to be prepared for Cabinet.

Speaking in the third person, Somsak said “The Justice Ministry will neither rush nor put the brakes on the Bill.”

The Civil Partnership Bill doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry but it would grant partners the legal right to jointly own and manage assets, and to give or receive inheritances.

Activists, on both side of the argument, are critical of the Bill. On one side same-sex GLBT proponents say it doesn’t provide same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. On the other, critics say the Bill would reduce the ‘value’ and ‘values’ of marriage in Thailand.

But supporter say the Bill is a first step towards equality in Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required
วินาทีฮือฮาทั้งประชุมสภา รัฐบาลเสียงปริ่มน้ำ แพ้โหวตฝ่ายค้านครั้งแรก [คลิป] | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 week ago

วินาทีฮือฮาทั้งประชุมสภา รัฐบาลเสียงปริ่มน้ำ แพ้โหวตฝ่ายค้านครั้งแรก [คลิป]

4 โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอล U23 ชายแชมป์เอเชีย ไทยพบซาอุฯ | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล2 weeks ago

4 โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอล U23 ชายแชมป์เอเชีย ไทยพบซาอุฯ

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23

“แอน ทองประสม” เล่นทายาก ในวัยเข้าเลข 4 [คลิป] | The Thaiger
ดาราไทย1 month ago

“แอน ทองประสม” เล่นทายาก ในวัยเข้าเลข 4 [คลิป]

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23 | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

18 ก.ค. 5โมงเย็น ถ่ายทอดสดวอลเลย์บอลไทย-ฮ่องกง ชิงแชมป์เอเชียรุ่น U23

คลิปนาทีพลเอกประยุทธ์ให้สัมภาษณ์นักข่าวภาษาอังกฤษ ตอบคล่องปร๋อเรื่องกฎหมาย | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง1 month ago

คลิปนาทีพลเอกประยุทธ์ให้สัมภาษณ์นักข่าวภาษาอังกฤษ ตอบคล่องปร๋อเรื่องกฎหมาย

ฺBlink กรี๊ดคอแตก ลิซ่า Solo คอนเสิร์ตวันแรก BLACKPINK world tour in your area : encore | The Thaiger
BLACKPINK1 month ago

ฺBlink กรี๊ดคอแตก ลิซ่า Solo คอนเสิร์ตวันแรก BLACKPINK world tour in your area : encore

ไฮไลท์ บราซิล-โปแลนด์ วอลเลย์บอล เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบสุดท้าย | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

ไฮไลท์ บราซิล-โปแลนด์ วอลเลย์บอล เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบสุดท้าย

คลิปย้อนหลัง Miss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ | The Thaiger
บันเทิง1 month ago

คลิปย้อนหลัง Miss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ

ถ่ายทอดสดMiss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ 10 ก.ค. | The Thaiger
บันเทิง1 month ago

ถ่ายทอดสดMiss Grand Thailand 2019 รอบชุดประจำชาติ 10 ก.ค.

ชมไฮไลต์ ‘นุสรา ต้อมคำ’ เซตมือ 1 เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบแรก | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

ชมไฮไลต์ ‘นุสรา ต้อมคำ’ เซตมือ 1 เนชั่นส์ ลีก 2019 รอบแรก

6 ก.ค. บ่ายสอง ถ่ายทอดสดตุรกี-บราซิล วอลเลย์บอลเนชั่นส์ ลีกรอบตัดเชือก | The Thaiger
วอลเลย์บอล1 month ago

6 ก.ค. บ่ายสอง ถ่ายทอดสดตุรกี-บราซิล วอลเลย์บอลเนชั่นส์ ลีกรอบตัดเชือก

สูสี! ไฮไลต์บอลโลกหญิงรอบรองฯ คู่ 2 เนเธอร์แลนด์ 1-0 สวีเดน | The Thaiger
ฟุตบอล2 months ago

สูสี! ไฮไลต์บอลโลกหญิงรอบรองฯ คู่ 2 เนเธอร์แลนด์ 1-0 สวีเดน

“คิมซูฮยอน” ปลดประจำการทหารแล้ว ภาพแรกหลังออกจากกองทัพ [คลิป] | The Thaiger
K-Pop2 months ago

“คิมซูฮยอน” ปลดประจำการทหารแล้ว ภาพแรกหลังออกจากกองทัพ [คลิป]

รังสิมันต์ โรมเปิดคลิปนาทีคนร้าย จอดรถมอเตอร์ไซค์ไล่ตีจ่านิว [คลิป] | The Thaiger
ข่าวการเมือง2 months ago

รังสิมันต์ โรมเปิดคลิปนาทีคนร้าย จอดรถมอเตอร์ไซค์ไล่ตีจ่านิว [คลิป]

Trending