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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: South alert after blasts; Army targets 4 triggers; PDRC denies coup; Killer claims gold

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: South alert after blasts; Army targets 4 triggers; PDRC denies coup; Killer claims gold | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

South on alert after deadly bombings
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Security has been beefed up in the restive deep South ahead of the long Songkran holiday next week, following destructive bombing attacks in Yala over the past two days.

Yesterday’s bomb explosion at a goods warehouse in Yala municipality led to a blaze that caused at least Bt300 million in damage.

The Sri Samai warehouse is the largest for consumer products in the region and distributes goods to the three southern border provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.

A convenience store located next to the warehouse was among four targets attacked yesterday morning.

Authorities in the southern border provinces yesterday began increasing security measures in risky areas.

Yala Governor Dejrat Simsiri said the bombings in the province yesterday and on Sunday were certainly carried out by the same group of people judging from evidence found by investigators.

He said the attacks involved car and motorcycle bombs and were obviously well planned and aimed at undermining the local economy ahead of Songkran.

The governor said the authorities were convinced that yesterday’s explosions were caused by time bombs planted around the same time as those that exploded on Sunday.

“The perpetrators timed the bombs to explode at different times in order to make the attacks look worse,” he said.

Local authorities have boosted security to the top level and thoroughly scrutinised possible target areas, according to the governor.

He added that security had been provided to individuals who could be targeted by insurgents.

Noppong Thiraworn, head of the Yala Chamber of Commerce, put the warehouse damage bill at an estimated Bt300 million.

The warehouse mainly stored consumer products, electrical appliances and furniture.

Noppong said the economic impact of the attacks was incalculable, with the latest attacks the severest in 10 years.

“The perpetrators certainly wanted to scare away tourists when we expect Songkran to help stimulate the local economy,” he said.

On Sunday evening, four almost simultaneous explosions rocked Yala, killing one person and injuring 28 others in the heart of the town.

Yala is one of several hot spots in the predominantly Muslim deep South. Violence flared in the region in January 2004 and since claimed more than 5,000 lives. The authorities believe separatist insurgents are behind most of the violence.

In the neighbouring province of Narathiwat, security has been heightened, particularly in the downtown and business centre, following the attacks in Yala, Narathiwat Governor Nattapong Sirichana said yesterday.

More checkpoints have been set up to screen suspected vehicles entering those areas.

Nattapong said insurgents might attempt to carry out attacks in Muang and Sungai Kolok districts ahead of Songkran, in a bid to scare away tourists.

Security sources said yesterday that the latest attacks could be aimed at challenging the new commander of the Fourth Army Region, Lt-General Walit Rojanapakdee.

The sources said that the bombings had had a severe psychological impact on locals, while the intended message from insurgents could be that they were capable of such attacks at anytime and anywhere.

Army targets 4 possible triggers for Yala bombings
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The bombings in Yala on Sunday and yesterday may stem from four factors, including a challenge by insurgents to the new commander of Army Region 4, Lt Gen Walit Rojanapakdee, a national security agency source said yesterday.

Walit had visited the Khuhamuk Buddhist community in Yala’s Muang district hours before the bombings, as one of his first assignments.

The blasts on Sunday included one at Raja Furniture on Sirorote Road in which a car bomb was set off, killing an unknown person. It is two years since the last car bomb was reported in Yala city – on March 31, 2012, at the “safety zone” intersection of Ruammit and Jongrak roads. That blast, which claimed 10 lives, took place on the same day of a bombing in Hat Yai.

Besides being a challenge to Walit and Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Forward Com-mand at Yarang district’s Sirindhorn Camp, only a kilometre from some bomb sites, the source suggested the bombings could have resulted from insurgents’ inability to mount an attack last month because of beefed-up security. March also included symbolic days such as the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) founding day on March 13 and the second anniversary of the Hat Yai and Yala car bombings on March 31.

The third factor was security may have been looser than usual, as officers were exhausted from operations last month, while some men were sent to Bangkok for protest-related operations. Intelligence may also have been lacking, as the bombings occurred despite previous warnings of pre-Songkran blasts in Yala.

Fourth, bombings in downtown Yala may be aimed at scaring the public, so they believe insurgents have the potential to create violence at any time and anywhere, the source added.

Other security sources said the attacks in Yala’s commercial area, as well as previous killings of innocent people in the region, suggested insurgents were back “full on” against the government. This may relate to BRN’s YouTube announcement in December that it would no longer participate in the peace dialogue with Thailand.

Last year when the dialogue was ongoing, attacks focused on state officers, with a significant reduction in attacks on innocent citizens. Rumours that the dialogue had failed spread while violence rose, despite Malaysian facilitator Ahmad Zamzamin bin Hashim’s February comment that talks would resume once Thailand sorted out its political conflicts.

All in all, it seems that the Bt200 billion spent to tackle violence over the past 11 years has evaporated in the explosions that claimed many lives.

PDRC denies trying to illegally overthrow govt
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) denied yesterday that the PDRC was trying to unconstitutionally overthrow the caretaker Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The charge followed a declaration by PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban that the movement had the sovereign status to seek a royal endorsement to install a new administration.

Thaworn Senneam, a PDRC leader, said yesterday Suthep was referring only to a situation where red-shirt supporters and the government might refuse to accept two Constitutional Court rulings.

These rulings would refer to the legality of Yingluck transferring Thawil Pliensri from the National Security Council (NSC) in 2011, and her possible indictment by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) over alleged dereliction of her duty involving the controversial rice scheme.

Thaworn said the government and its supporters must accept scrutiny and possible punishment by the independent organisations under the Constitution.

He denied the allegation

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Noodle shop ‘taking the piss’ with special ingredient

Tanutam Thawan

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Noodle shop ‘taking the piss’ with special ingredient | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: sanook.com

Thai Facebook page ‘Return.v12’ has posted a storey about people who believe in the “power of urine” and that it can heal body pain and diseases. The noodle shop owner admitted that he has been using his own urine as a “secret ingredient” and that he has a lot of customers because of it.

He claims that his customers tell him that his noodles makes their muscle pain go away but admits he hasn’t told them about the additional surprise ingredient.

Ever since he added the secret ingredient to the noodles his sales have improved. He also attached a picture of his noodles.

Another member of the Facebook group asked the question…

“Hello, urine can be used in food right? I own a restaurant in the middle of a city, if I add my urine to the dishes would it make my food more delicious and would my customers gain better health? I’ll add more for those who come from this group.”

We don’t know where the noodle shop is.

“My family owns a noodle shop. Many people in the area come to my shop. Many of them are workers coming in for lunch. My customers often told me that they had back pain and muscle pain. I didn’t know how to help them, I wanted to tell them the truth but I didn’t want to seem weird about it.”

“So I took the issue into my own hands and started adding my own urine into the soup pot. Customers started loving my noodles, they tell me how their pain has gone away since they started eating my noodles. Some even asked if I had a secret ingredient haha.”

No photos were available of the cook adding the secret ingredient.

SOURCE: sanook.com | ThaiResidents.com

Noodle shop 'taking the piss' with special ingredient | News by The Thaiger

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Opinion

Saving Thai Airways

Tim Newton

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Saving Thai Airways | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The pleasant smile and wai won’t fill aircraft seats anymore

Whilst it’s always a generally pleasant experience flying Thai Airways, the airline, in a business sense, is a basket case racking up nearly a decade of losses, first under the Yingluck Shinawatra Government and then the military government of the NCPO.

Most people in aviation circles agree on the main challenges for the national carrier.

• Entrenched nepotism and cronyism
• Top heavy management
• Contracts for older staff which do not reflect aviation business realities in 2019
• Uncompetitive pricing

So do what QANTAS did in Australia in 2003.

QANTAS was Australia’s legacy airline which had similar long-standing contracts and Union issues that made it difficult for the national carrier to compete in the modern aviation business. It battled for decades with the staff, all on cushy contracts, and the Unions were resistant to change as well.

So they started JetStar, a completely separate company headquartered in Melbourne, but under the wider QANTAS banner. It would take over the ‘leisure’ routes and compete as a low-cost carrier. As QANTAS slowly moved routes over to its cheaper subsidiary the parent airline had a much better argument to pay-out the older, uncompetitive contracts and lay-off the ‘old pot boilers’.

JetStar was not a glamorous airline and lacked the reputation and brand-love of the ‘flying kangaroo’ but, as a business strategy, was a winner for QANTAS and gave them options to modernise the national airline business. The CEO, Alan Joyce, came through Aer Lingus in Ireland then the failing Ansett Airlines in Australia to completely turn Australia’s national carrier upside-down. The strategy worked.

The model has been repeated by other national airlines.

Thai Airways sort of tried the same strategy with Thai Smile in 2012. The offshoot of the parent Thai Airways International, would fly leisure routes for the national carrier but it was still owned entirely by Thai Airways and wasn’t set up as a separate entity so was subject to much of the same ‘handbrakes’ that was holding back Thai Airways from competition in the modern aviation market.

Brand Thai Airways is starting to look a bit tired. The Thai smile, orchids, pleasant staff wai-ing to the camera is all a bit naff when most customers in 2019 are looking for a safe, efficient, on-time airline, at a competitive price. Let’s face it, the seating is much the same, give or take, in just about any plane now. Unless you have the deeper pockets and can afford to sit closer to the front of the plane, you’re in cattle class whether you’re on Thai Airways, Air Asia or RyanAir. A Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 is much the same aeroplane no matter who is flying it.

So what does Thai Airways have to offer customers these days that they won’t get on the many alternatives airlines flying on the same routes? Nice uniforms? A Thai stir-fry included in your airfare? (I’m battling to think of anything else…)

At the same time their website , whilst much improved in the past 12 months, is still a bit ‘clumsy’ compared to other airlines’, the fleet is starting to look a bit ‘tired’, the eight years of loss after loss is starting to noticeably weigh on the airline’s staff, and in many cases the airfares are simply too expensive.

Unless you’re a huge Thai Airways fanboy or fangirl, there are fewer reasons every year to keep flying Thailand’s national airline.

Thailand’s surging tourist industry, which despite a few blips this year will continue to grow, has provided a huge opportunity for Thai Airways to thrive and grow. Instead the airline’s management have squandered an enormous opportunity. Whilst calling for patience as they make (almost zero) changes, many other airlines have jumped into their flying space with newer aircraft, better promotions, cheaper flights and a better business plan.

If Thai Airways was a private company they would have been out of business a decade ago. Instead they keep coming back to the Thai government with their hat out for contributions to bail them out of quarter after quarter of losses.

The airline’s main backer, the Thai government, provides a massive disincentive for the airline to clean up the internal mess and modernise. Where’s the urgency to make the necessary changes when the government will always end up bailing them out? The airline has simply weaponised ‘saving face’ – the national carrier simply CAN’T fail.

But maybe the view of Thai Airways as a potential profitable business is old-fashioned and the costs to the Thai taxpayer should be seen as an ‘investment’ into the country’s growing tourist industry. Middle Eastern airlines are operated in this way where they make massive losses but provide excellent service on modern aircraft dragging tourists through and to their airports and destinations.

Now Thai Airways is asking for the Thai government to bankroll the purchase of new aircraft for its fleet. That the Thai Government seems in no rush to write out any more cheques to Thai Airways is a good indication that some hard decisions now need to be made.

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Environment

Thailand Prime Minister rejects calls to ban plastic bags

May Taylor

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Thailand Prime Minister rejects calls to ban plastic bags | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

In what some may see as a baffling contradiction, Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha promised to protect marine life, while simultaneously rejecting an increasing number of calls for a ban on single-use plastic bags.

Following the death of Marium, a young dugong who had ingested plastic waste, the PM says he has ordered the agencies concerned to take more measures to protect sea life.

Of particular concern to the PM is the fate of another young dugong.

“Yamil must not die”.

The PM says the use of some plastic will be banned by 2022, including single-use plastic bags, but insists the issue is not solely the government’s responsibility.

“Everyone has a duty to help reduce plastic waste. It is unfair and pointless to blame the government when sea animals die due to marine waste. This issue is everyone’s responsibility,” he maintains.

A conservation plan known as the “Marium Project” has been approved by the cabinet, along with a number of other proposals to protect marine life, specifically dugongs.

Among them is a plan to create more dugong conservation areas such as Koh Libong in Trang province, where Marium was looked after.  The chosen sites should have beaches rich in sea-grass, a preferred food source for the dugong.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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