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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep declares People’s Revolution; Yingluck emotional in announcing dissolution; Feb 2 election; Mega-projects in doubt

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep declares People’s Revolution; Yingluck emotional in announcing dissolution; Feb 2 election; Mega-projects in doubt | The Thaiger

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

People’s revolution declared
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: His Majesty the King endorses House dissolution decree, national election set for February 2; some academics agree with protesters, but urge both sides to talk and find a solution

Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government protest, announced last night that the public would appoint a new prime minister and government, as well as a “people’s council” to act as the legislature following what he termed a “people’s revolution”.

He made this announcement outside Government House before a large crowd of protesters who had marched for hours from nine locations across the capital. Suthep, himself, had taken part in the 20-kilometre march from the Government Complex in Nonthaburi.

In the morning, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had dissolved the House of Representatives and called for a new general election. His Majesty the King endorsed the decree on House dissolution in the evening. The election date was later set for February 2.

Suthep, who is secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said in a live broadcast that the people had “recalled the power” from the government, which he described as corrupt, dishonest and unfaithful.

He pointed to acts by the government and the Pheu Thai-dominated lower house that resulted in a loss of trust. This included the bill that would give blanket amnesty to politicians sentenced in corruption cases and offenders of serious crimes during the recent political unrest.

Suthep said the people had the right to take back the government’s power, as the administration had abused its authority and violated the rule of law and good governance, hence the PDRC could invoke Article 3 of the Constitution. It states: “The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as head of state shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

Describing the protest movement as “pracha phiwat” or people’s revolution, Suthep likened PDRC to the “sovereign power” obtained by coup-makers following a successful takeover.

“We will work on change, reform and the happiness of people in the entire country, regardless of their political preferences. There will be fairness to everyone,” Suthep said.

He also summoned government officials to report to the PDRC and suggested that a “peacekeeping force of volunteers” be set up in every province, which he said would “serve as an important force” for protesters in their fight in the future.

Suthep also urged the demonstrators to continue with their push for political reform. “We have invested a lot together and we have to succeed, or we won’t return home,” he said.

Earlier in the day, in her nationally broadcast address, Yingluck said: “The government does not wish to see political conflict escalate into national division and violence. Returning power to the people by dissolving the House and calling a general election is a democratic and acceptable recourse. Let a majority of the people decide the direction and who they want to run the country.”

Pheu Thai Party resolved late yesterday to contest the next general election with Yingluck as its first party-list candidate to become the next PM.

Wirat Kalayasiri, who resigned on Sunday as opposition Democrat MP along with 151 other party MPs, said yesterday that dissolving the House was “not enough”. He called on the caretaker Cabinet to resign en masse, and the majority of the outgoing and incoming members of the five-person Election Commission to resign so that an election could not be held.

Wirat suggested that the Senate Speaker should nominate a neutral prime minister for royal endorsement. A new caretaker Cabinet should spend six months to one year amending necessary laws for reform and to make way for a new election.

He said the Democrat Party would convene later to come up with a joint proposal on this.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Vechayachai yesterday said he saw no good reason why the Democrats should boycott the next general election. He said the prime minister had done her best in order to defuse a crisis – offering an apology and returning power to the people.

He challenged the protest leaders’ demand for Yingluck to resign as caretaker premier, as the Constitution states the PM has to continue with the caretaker role until the new election is held.

“House dissolution is the best the prime minister can do. We may be called the losers if you like, but we just want peace to be restored in the country. We are not afraid of losing. Winning or losing, let’s fight it out in the election,” Phumtham said.

Academics agreed they did not think that dissolving the House was a way out – though they also did not view the proposal for a people’s council and an unelected interim government as a solution either.

Jade Donavanik, of Siam University’s Faculty of Law, said that with a House dissolution failing to satisfy protesters, having an election when the conflict was still simmering would only bring more problems to the country. He suggested the government resign as caretaker administration and pave the way for a neutral Cabinet to take over. He also called on the protesters not to insist on their demand for a people’s council.

Kanit na Nakorn, chairman of the Committee for Legal Reform, said the prime minister’s decision to dissolve the House came too late. He noted that the current situation was similar to one after the student-led uprising in October 1973 that brought down a dictatorial government and forced government leaders to flee the country.

Assadang Panikabutr, former dean of Ramkhamhaeng University’s Faculty of Political Science, called on Yingluck and Suthep to have a dialogue in order to settle differences. He did not think House dissolution would solve the political stalemate but said the government had made its decision.

Prachak Kongkirati, a political scientist at Thammasat, said a House dissolution was the best option in the current situation to avoid bloodshed. He urged the Democrat Party to take part in the next election.

Academic Nidhi Eoseewong voiced opposition to the idea of having an unelected people’s council. He said people’s representatives must be elected. Nidhi said that after the House dissolution, political parties had to comply with the existing legal path by taking part in the next election.

Suthep pushes on
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives yesterday failed to satisfy leaders of the anti-government protest, who insisted on her also stepping down as head of government.

The protesters demanded the government be replaced by a non-elected “people’s council” and an interim administration that consists of no politicians. This proposed interim administration and “people’s council” should implement political reform for one year or one-and-a -half years before being dissolved to make way for a general election, some protest leaders said.

Key protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, speaking after leading a march to Government House, urged the demonstrators to continue with their push for political reform.

“We have invested a lot together and we have to succeed, or

— 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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