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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Thaksin makes birthday call; Nenkham family to be probed; BRN behind some Ramadan attacks; Police Station fraud charges loom

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Thaksin makes birthday call; Nenkham family to be probed; BRN behind some Ramadan attacks; Police Station fraud charges loom | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Birthday boy Thaksin calls on Thais to rely on one another
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra may have been in Beijing, but his figure was standing right there next to Deputy Education Minister Sermsak Pongpanit as he lit and blew out candles on a 29-kilogram cake to celebrate the former leader’s 64th birthday yesterday.

In a brief phone-in at the event, Thaksin said Thais had no choice but to rely on one another to solve the country’s conflicts.

Meanwhile, many Pheu Thai MPs flew to Hong Kong yesterday and more were to follow today to deliver their birthday wishes in person.

Hundreds of people flocked to Nonthaburi’s Wat Kaew Far to join the event, while hundreds of others held similar events in their home towns.

Just before Thaksin called after the clock struck noon, Sermsak performed Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese blessing rituals using 65 candles to extend the former leader’s life span.

In a five-minute video clip posted by Thaksin’s son Panthongtae on Facebook yesterday, Thaksin is heard calling on people to trust one another to help solve their problems.

“Brothers and sisters, I care for Thailand. There are many things that can be fixed but haven’t been fixed because of doubts and distrust owing to the conflicts. If we turn towards each other, we can achieve reconciliation in the country.

“We talk like Thais, in our language, when we discuss the core of the problems and how we can solve them together. If we focus on our country, I’m sure it will become prosperous again,” he said.

Thaksin recalled that he was overthrown when he was 57, and though he returned briefly when he was 59, he had not returned since.

He said the benefit of his exile was that he was able to see the world and learn new things. He promised to share his new knowledge on Facebook when he returns to Dubai.

He went on to say that he missed his family, but commended his children for visiting him often so he is not lonely.

Up to 50,000 cards, depicting a caricature of Thaksin along with a message written in his own hand, were handed out along with a “reconciliation dessert”, which came in the form of red and white intertwined pastry.

“I thank my Thai brothers and sisters for not having forgotten me. I would like to see peace return for the future of our descendants and the country.

“I hope to pass on happiness from all corners of the world to each and every Thai,” the message on the card read.

Thousands of people gathered at temples nationwide to make merit on Thaksin’s behalf and wrote birthday wishes on a long, white cloth that will be taken to the former leader as a present.

In Chiang Mai, the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group hosted an event titled “64 Years: The Good Man of the Country” to toast the birthday boy at the Warorot Grand Palace Hotel.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, red-shirt supporters prepared a 4.5kg cake to mark the event.

In Udon Thani, Pheu Thai MPs along with 500 supporters attended a merit-making ceremony at Wat Thip Santiwan, where up to Bt65,000 was raised in donations.

Red-shirt leader Kwanchai Sarakham was unable to attend because he had a court appointment, though his wife arranged a similar event at another temple.

In Trang, which is a Democrat Party base, a few hundred red shirts from that province and adjacent ones gathered at the Rose Inn to celebrate Thaksin’s birthday.

Indian duo nabbed in huge Samui meth haul
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Customs officials in Koh Samui have arrested two Indian nationals for allegedly smuggling more than 12 kilograms of the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine, known on the street as “ice”.

The illicit haul of drugs found in the possession of the suspects is estimated to be worth Bt43 million.

Deputy Finance Minister Benja Louicharoen announced the arrests of Virdi Hardev Singh, 51, and his accomplice Puran Singh, 41, who said they had flown from India to Singapore and then to Koh Samui where the illicit drugs were discovered in their luggage.

Initial investigations suggest the two were allegedly hired to deliver the drugs to a contact in Koh Samui, who would then arrange for the massive stash to be delivered to Bangkok.

Between October last year and July this year, the Customs Department said it had confiscated more than 73 kilos of crystal meth-amphetamine, over 8,000 kilograms of heroin and 260,000 meth-amphetamine tablets,

According to the department, more than 92 drug suspects have also been arrested over the same period.

BRN behind a few of the Ramadan attacks: study
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A study claiming that the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) is so far responsible for a few of the 20 insurgent attacks during the holy month of Ramadan was cited yesterday by National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr during a seminar in Bangkok.

According to the study, a number of incidents have been proved to be conducted by the BRN, which is currently in peace talks with the Thai government. Other insurgent groups were allegedly behind the other 15 incidents cited in the study, though Paradorn did not identify the groups allegedly involved at the seminar, which was organised by the Royal Thai Navy.

During his presentation, Paradorn said the BRN had readily admitted to him that it was responsible for the latest bomb attack in Narathiwat on Wednesday. However, he said the insurgents’ umbrella group claimed it had not intended to harm ordinary citizens. Two government teachers travelling by car were killed by shrapnel in the roadside bomb blast, which is thought to have been laid to ambush a military vehicle that was also in the area.

Navy Captain Somkiat Pholprayoon, who also spoke at the seminar, said there were about 2,900 insurgents among the 1.8-million Muslim population who live in the deep South, while another 400,000 were Buddhists. He said the majority of Muslims in the region wanted to be part of Thailand.

General Ekkachai Sriwilas, a senior official with the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, cited several internal conflicts around the world that had had positive outcomes, including the unrest in Northern Ireland, which took 26 years to end, and the seven-year insurgency in Aceh, which had also ended favourably.

Meanwhile, a number of new notices have been erected by insurgents in Narathiwat calling on military units to withdraw from outposts in the deep South. Two fake bombs were also reported at two locations where notices had been placed. Security forces said they believed the notices were erected by the same group who posted 38 notices in eight of Narathiwat’s 13 districts on Monday. Police said they were trying to track down the source of the paints used to make the signs.

A network of government teachers based in the deep South yesterday condemned the Wednesday attack, saying the two female teachers were truly dedicated to their professions. Their absence would result in a drop in educational standards at the school where they taught, the network said.

Nineteen schools in Chanae district where the bomb attack took place have closed and will reopen on Monday.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Noodle shop ‘taking the piss’ with special ingredient

The Thaiger

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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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