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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep sets for Bangkok seige; Bus terminal brawl bumps holiday death toll; Deep South insurgency deaths double

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep sets for Bangkok seige; Bus terminal brawl bumps holiday death toll; Deep South insurgency deaths double | The Thaiger

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

Capital siege set for Jan 13
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee last night announced details of its plan to lay siege to Bangkok from January 13. PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban said the siege could last for a month, or until the caretaker government of Yingluck Shinawatra resigns so political reform is possible.

He said that from Sunday, daily marches will be held so PDRC members can further promote the siege. He added that from today, the PDRC would be accepting suggestions from local Bangkok communities on how they could contribute to the siege. He also cited PDRC supporters attached to Chulalongkorn University, who say they may set up a stage at Pathum Wan intersection and businessmen who will do the same on Silom Road.

PDRC supporters may also gather outside the homes of key government figures, essentially keeping them captive in order to limit their activities, Suthep said.

He had earlier pressured police chiefs to look into the widely distributed video clips of so-called “men in black” apparently firing projectiles at protesters from a building inside the Labour Ministry compound during a skirmish at the Thai-Japanese stadium on December 26. The protesters were trying to disrupt candidacy registration.

Suthep has given Bangkok police chief Pol Lt-General Camronvit Toopkrajank until Tuesday to identify these “men in black” and seek their arrest. He also named national police chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew as being responsible for the presence of men dressed in anti-riot gear at the Labour Ministry.

In related news, the possibility of a February 2 general election being held still looks bleak, with legal complications disrupting registration procedures.

MP candidates were unable to register at 24 constituencies in five southern provinces on the final day of registration yesterday. But nobody showed up in 28 constituencies in eight provinces, the EC said.

The Pheu Thai Party is pressuring the Election Commission (EC) to extend candidacy registration and accept the legitimacy of MP candidates who registered at police stations.

However, the proposals have been turned down by Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, who said the election law clearly states candidacy registration must be carried out at places earlier announced by the EC. Extending registration, he said, might adversely affect the election’s timetable.

He added, however, that the EC would look for and discuss solutions to the problem, and whether to extend the election registration period.

Somchai said the EC would today hold a meeting with Pheu Thai and Democrat leaders to find solutions to the country’s political deadlock.

EC to seek solutions

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the EC would meet today to try and resolve the problems, especially the severe ones in 40 constituencies.

He said the EC would also talk about the action that can be taken in relation to the 123 MP candidates who filed police complaints after failing to register. The commission promised to protect their rights.

As for extending the registration period, Puchong said it would be difficult as changing the deadline would also affect the number of eligible voters.

Pheu Thai party-list MP candidate Panas Tassaneeyanont dismissed Somchai’s statement that registration cannot be extended. He cited Article 7 of the Constitution’s organic law, which he said stipulates that candidacy registration can be carried out for more than five days but not beyond election day.

He insisted that Article 36 also empowers election chiefs at constituency level to select a new location where registration can be held. He added that if election officials did not carry out their duties, they could face charges punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a 10-year political ban.

Speaking after a meeting with the EC on Tuesday, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government’s move to push for the general election would lead to political chaos.

As long as the government did not change its stance, he said, he was left with nothing to talk about.

“If the government leaves other options open, then talks are possible. If the government refuses to do so, it would lead to confrontation and intensifying political tension,” he said.

A total of 168 candidates representing 23 political parties, not including the opposition Democrat Party, have registered for constituency candidacies in Bangkok, the Election Commission said yesterday. Of those, 46 submitted their applications yesterday, the deadline for registering.

Anti-government protesters yesterday laid siege to the 42nd Border Patrol Police camp in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Thung Song district after 20 MP candidates from five parties registered early on Tuesday allegedly with the support of high-ranking police officers, who ordered a helicopter to transport the MP candidates there.

A police official said the incident had further tarnished the image of the police, as they were seen as siding with the Yingluck government at the expense of the country.

Trang Provincial Election Commission chief Saneh Rakrong said his commission had decided to cancel candidacy registration to prevent confrontation and clashes because of heavy public opposition throughout the five days of the registration.

Meanwhile, the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) yesterday forged ahead with its efforts to shut down the Yingluck Shinawatra caretaker government, announcing a planned blockade of Bangkok after the New Year break.

Core leader Satit Wongnongtaey, speaking onstage at the group’s main rally site at Democracy Monument, said the dates of the anticipated marches and other measures would be announced within the next few days, quoting an earlier speech by fellow leader Kaewsan Atibodhi.

Satit said caretaker premier Yingluck’s time was up and her government must end its tenure by the end of this month. “It’s a cancer in the penultimate stage, which will stop spreading once it is removed,” he added.

Celebratory events and a New Year countdown were held on Rajdamnoen Avenue, which is occupied by a large number of PDRC supporters, from Tuesday night into yesterday morning.

Security has been tightened at the rally site and other areas occupied by two other protest groups, with visitors and their bags being searched thoroughly.

Former Thai Rak Thai Party executive Suchart Tancharoen yesterday applied for an MP candidacy in Constituency 3 of Chachoengsao under the Bhum Jai Thai Party banner.

Suchart is a former deputy House speaker and deputy premier. He was slapped with a five-year ban when Thai Rak Thai was dissolved in 2007.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, 49 MP candidates from nine parties registered in all of the province’s 15 constituencies yesterday. Former Bhum Jai Thai deputy leader Boonjong Wongtrairat, a former interior minister elected to several consecutive terms as an MP in the province, registered on the last day.

Election officials in Prachuap Khiri Khan said the province is ready for the February 2 election as they have registered candidates for all three constituencies.

In Narathiwat, 21 MP candidates registered to run in four constituencies.

They include candidates from the Pheu Thai, Bhum Jai Thai, Chart Thai Pattana and New Democracy parties.


Provinces with the number of constituencies

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thai Life

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers

The Thaiger



Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Daily News

The answers are in the banana leaves.

Thai people LOVE playing the lottery (and gambling generally). In fact they’re BANANAS about the twice-monthly lottery (it was drawn again today). Daily News has reported about two unusual banana trees growing in front of a shop in Klong 4 Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. The trees did not have blossom and on one plant two bananas were pointing skywards. On another there was a whole bunch pointing up into the sky.

There was a steady stream of the faithful lighting incense, praying and rubbing powder on the trees to get lottery numbers. One group thought ‘542’ was the magic numbers and a path to riches (we’re not sure how they came to this conclusion). 53 year old Surachai says the trees had been growing for a few months and that he’d never seen anything like it before.

An unnamed agricultural expert suggested that there was probably something wrong with the banana plants. Trees and malformed animals are a favourite source of inspiration to select numbers for the lottery, as are numbers of houses and vehicles involved in events where people experience “miracle” escapes from danger, or even bizarre accidents.

SOURCE: Daily News

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger

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Clean Up to the Countdown – Crackdown on illegal software

The Thaiger & The Nation



Clean Up to the Countdown – Crackdown on illegal software | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pantip Plaza, Bangkok

The Clean Up to the Countdown campaign aims to encourage top executives to legalise their corporate software before midnight on December 31, 2019.”

BSA The Software Alliance is partnering with Thai police and chief executives on a campaign to crackdown illegal software in the workplace by the end of 2019. Many companies still use illegal, pirated or copied computer software.

This campaign will target 10,000 companies across Thailand that are thought to be using illegal software. This includes corporations in a variety of business sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, banking and finance, engineering, architecture, media, design, IT and healthcare. Many of these companies are known users of software, but lack license agreements from software providers.

The Nation reports that the BSA is working with police to ramp up enforcement against corporations using illegal software and has already helped identify nearly 10,000 companies in 10 provinces suspected of using illegal software.

The Economic Crime Suppression Division wants to see business leaders take a proactive approach to cleaning up their corporate software assets so that they can enter 2020 fully legal and compliant. From now until the end of the year, it will continue to raid companies suspected of not complying with Thai laws protecting software copyright.

While ECD enforces the Thai laws, BSA is contacting thousands of corporate leaders in Thailand to offer guidance and advice in addressing illegal software use in the workplace.

BSA Senior Director Tarun Sawney believes that some CEOs may be aware their company is using illegal software and are wary of investing in genuine software.

“But there are other CEOs whose companies have hundreds or thousands of PCs, who simply may not be aware of the type of software running on their corporation’s PCs, and whether it is legal or not.”

“BSA wants to help CEOs do the right thing but this requires that CEOs take a hands-on approach to addressing the risk of using illegal software in business operations. Our advice is that CEOs treat the risk of illegal software with the utmost importance. This means being hands-on and proactive. CEOs can and should control this risk factor.”

The solution, according to the software industry, includes a better effort by CEOs at self-policing their own use of software by corporations in Thailand. The Clean Up to the Countdown campaign is a part of Legalize and Protect initiative launched earlier this year. So far, the initiative has helped thousands companies in Thailand legalize their software assets and protect data from malware and hackers.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President

The Thaiger & The Nation



Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President | The Thaiger


“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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