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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep sets D-Day Monday; Referendum proposed; Baht falls; Fears over New Year gouging; Floods in South

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep sets D-Day Monday; Referendum proposed; Baht falls; Fears over New Year gouging; Floods in South | The Thaiger

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

Suthep sets December 9 as D-day against Thaksin Regime
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Anti-government rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday night set December 9 as the D-Day for what he called “people’s uprising” against the Thaksin Regime and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

Speaking at the rally site at the Government Complex, Suthep, who is charged with sedition, said that on the morning of December 9, he would lead protesters on a march to the Government House despite the time this would take. Protesters from other rally sites at Rajdamnoen and Makkawan would also start to march simultaneously at 9.39am.

Once when they arrive at the Government House, they will not force entry into the premises with the intention of occupying it. Instead, they will conduct the protest outside the venue.

He called for people to leave their offices and homes to join the demonstrations and show their desire to uproot the Thaksin Regime as well as the corrupt and illegitimate government of Yingluck Shinawatra. He challenged people those who preferred to stay home or did not want to join, saying “you can do that if you want to let the Thaksin Regime control you for the rest of your life.”

He reiterated that once he leaves the rally site, he will not go back. “I will not turn back. I will fight until the end. I will accept the results of the December 9 battle. If we don’t win, I will turn myself in to face the charges against me,” he told the cheering crowds. He once again underlined that there would be no violence as the protesters are not armed.

He also warned people of heavy traffic that day because of the march by protesters from the rally sites.

Referendum proposed on setting up people’s council
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Ukrit Mongkolnavin, chairman of the Independent National Rule of Law Commission, yesterday proposed that Article 165 of the Constitution be invoked to hold a public referendum on the proposal to establish a people’s council.

Ukrit raised the proposal during a discussion with House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranon and Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij at Parliament.

Ukrit said the referendum would end disputes between the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the government over the issue.

“Under the democratic system, the voice of the people is the most important. If we want a real solution, we should invoke Article 165 for all people to have a say. All 60 million Thais should be asked instead of having just 200,000 decide what should be done,” Ukrit said.

Political science students from 14 universities yesterday called on the government and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to hold transparent talks to achieve a constitutional solution for the country.

The two-point proposal was submitted in the morning by 20 student representatives to Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana at Government House, who promised it would be considered by the government along with other proposals. The universities include Thammasat, Chulalongkorn, Kasetsart, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.

The student representatives told Phongthep political science students from the 14 universities came up with the proposal during a recent seminar. They called on the government and the Suthep-led People’s Democratic Reform Committee to urgently and transparently negotiate a solution that is possible under the charter.

Their second proposal was that political reform should be carried out via charter amendments that provide a level playing field for all groups to express their opinions.

Phongthep replied that the government was gathering opinions on a solution and that the students’ proposal would be considered along with other proposals put forward by academics.

He said he would later invite people with interesting ideas to discuss them. Permanent Secretary for Justice Kittipong Kityarak had been assigned to gather all the opinions and proposals, he added.

The deputy prime minister said the government would give its full attention to the opinions put forward as soon as possible.

But he said Suthep’s proposal to seek a royally-granted prime minister, by invoking Article 7 of the charter, was impossible. It had been achieved in 1973, he said, because the charter at that time allowed it.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang said yesterday it was unconstitutional to invoke Article 3 and 7 to set up a people’s council and seek to have a prime minister appointed by His Majesty. He said Article 291 needed to be amended first to make Suthep’s proposals possible.

“But someone must sponsor this charter amendment bill. The protesters are refusing to propose a charter amendment bill and instead are resorting to intimidating and creating turmoil,” Chaturon said.

Internal, external factors combine to drag down baht
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The protests that have rocked Bangkok, and uncertainties over US intentions on its quantitative easing (QE) programme have put pressure on the baht, which continues to depreciate.

Benjarong Suwankiri, head of TMB Analytics at TMB Bank, said the depreciating baht and the stock market’s slump resulted from a mix of internal and external causes.

Externally, the United States is expected to taper its asset purchases soon, while locally, the protests against the government have been prolonged, prompting foreign capital to flee Thailand consistently. If the political protests, which started on November 1, drag on much longer, more foreign capital would move out, which would pull the Thai currency down further, Benjarong said.

The baht softened to 32.359 per US dollar yesterday, the weakest level since September 6, according to Bloomberg. It has declined 3.7 per cent since the demonstrations began.

The baht has weakened faster than expected, he said. The earlier estimate was 32.50 per dollar by mid-December. However, the currency weakened early in the month, reflecting consistent foreign-capital outflows, while the Thai capital markets have seen shorter foreign investors’ equity holdings on expectations of QE tapering in the near term.

The local protests, which have continued for more than a month, have been affecting the Thai economy and investor confidence at a certain level and could affect next year’s growth, Benjarong said. Foreign tourists have recently changed their behaviour, spending less time in Bangkok and more in other provinces.

Gross domestic product expanded by 2.7 per cent in the third quarter year on year, the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2012. The Bank of Thailand and the Fiscal Policy Office have lowered their 2013 growth estimates to about 3 per cent, while Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has conceded that the actual figure could be even lower.

Benjarong said the markets had been waiting for the government’s measures to stimulate growth next year.

The SET Index has dropped 16 per cent since the US Federal Reserve said on May 22 it might reduce its US$85 billion (Bt2.7 trillion) of monthly bond purchases, according to Bloomberg. The index yesterday slumped by 15.06 points to 1,361.57.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat Na Rano

— 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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