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Southern curfew debate; Amnesty opposed; World expo bid under cloud

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Southern curfew debate; Amnesty opposed; World expo bid under cloud | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

‘Curfew could worsen things’
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: While the government will determine on Friday whether to declare a curfew in the deep South, the Civil Society Council of the Southern Border Provinces said yesterday that the government’s strategies should stress peaceful processes not combative ones.

Council president Prasit Meksuwan warned a curfew could worsen the situation. It could affect livelihoods and boost insurgents’ plan to make the region a violence zone. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday met with National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr, Southern Border Provinces Administration Center (SBPAC) chief Tawee Sodsong, army chief-of-staff General Udomdech Seetabutr, and national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew and urged careful deliberation before declaring a curfew.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM Chalerm Yoobamrung said the meeting would come to a conclusion concerning the curfew either this Friday, or else in two weeks. He insisted the curfew would be useful as insurgents planted bombs at night for day-time attacks. Locals could ask officials for permission to leave home during curfew to work or for religious activity.

Army Region 4 commander Lt-General Udomchai Thammasarorat said the Army would carry out a curfew if ordered – but he urged the government to think carefully, as it could worsen the unrest. He said the violence wasn’t as severe as many imagined – and insurgents were taking revenge for the arrest of their leading members.

Army deputy spokesman Winthai Suwari said the interrogation of five teenagers, nabbed after the car bomb on Sunday that killed five soldiers and wounded another in Yala’s Raman district, allegedly found they aided the attack by placing spikes on the road. Winthai urged officials to exercise more caution in their investigations, while at the same time condemning the attacks as cruel and inhumane.

Amnesty for politicians opposed by senators
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: Lawmakers are still divided over the amnesty draft proposed by the independent National Rule of Law Commission (NRLC) headed by Dr Ukrit Mongkolnavin.

Appointed Senator Paiboon Nititawan said yesterday he opposed the NRLC’s amnesty draft on the grounds that Prime Minister Yingluck would be accused of supporting people who have committed lese majeste offences – such as Daranee Chanchoengsilapakul or Da Torpedo.

He said the amnesty bill should not pardon political office holders and former political office holders because they had not only joined the rallies but were protest leaders.

Appointed Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn suggested the government take into account suggestions from the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand on the amnesty bill and advice from Nicha Hiranburana, wife of Col Romklao Thuwatham, who was killed during the political rally.

Somchai said 30 suspects who allegedly committed serious crimes and were being detained at Bang Khen prison with special privileges should not be pardoned – such as those accused of firing RPG rockets like Banthit Sithitum and Surachai Thewarak who allegedly killed nine military officers, two police and 10 others.

Pheu Thai party-list MP Korkaew Pikulthong opposed Paiboon’s proposal that political office holders should not be pardoned, saying the idea was a discrimination and unconstitutional. He said no political office holders were protest leaders or pulled strings behind the protest. “They might [have taken] to the rally stage but they did not take part in the rally as protest leaders,” he said.

Deputy House Speaker Charoen Jankomol yesterday met with Pheu Thai leader Charupong Ruangsuwan. He said he had talked to Trairong Suwankiri of the Democrats. Charoen proposed two bills to Charupong.

World Expo bid under a cloud amid cost doubts
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: Eleven days after a second inspection, Thailand has lost its patience about knowing if it might win the World Expo 2020. Whether it is being political or not, the government’s decision may hurt the Kingdom’s image.

The Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) Enquiry Mission came to Ayutthaya late last month to inspect the Thai city’s potential as a candidate to host the world’s largest fair.

But yesterday Prime Minister’s Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsong-phaisan said the Yingluck government was assessing the worthiness of investing in a bid to stage the World Expo.

A research team from Kasetsart University had earlier estimated that the government, if selected to host the event, may have to spend 30 billion baht to construct new buildings and infrastructure to link to the expo site in Ayutthaya.

A decision has been in the air for some time. But politics is believed to have come into play, as the bid was announced in 2010, during the Abhisit government.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said what the government had done so far was to discredit the country. Thailand was globally well-known and playing a rising role in international platforms. And if the government announced it would not to proceed with the bid, the country would hurt its image on the international stage.

“The bidding game has not moved ahead fully. [The government] can keep going forward to fight in the competition, not drop out on the way,’ he said.

Nine delegates from the BIE Enquiry Mission also talked with Abhisit during their five-day inspection tour from January 28 to February 1 after meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

He said it was clear at least 10 million tourists would attend, and the venue would make Ayutthaya even better known internationally. He called for the government to declare exactly all details of why it has reconsidered backing the bid, especially figures about investment returns.

Yesterday, Thongchai Sridama, acting president of the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), a public agency leading the bidding, said it was most likely Thailand would not be considered by the BIE as a qualified candidate to win the bidding.

Dubai seemed to have emerged as the potential winner because the cash-rich nation had spent the 100 million baht to organize its bid, as well as building an underground train to better connect with the venue. It also had strong support from China.

He said around 30bn baht would be needed to build accommodation and infrastructure if Ayutthaya was to host the expo, and BIE expected to make a profit of around 62bn, if all plans and projections went as expected.

Other candidates include Brazil, Turkey and Russia. Thailand was the first country to be inspected. The officials will consider 14 issues identified in Thailand’s bidding dossier. One of the key items is the government mechanism for event management and community support.

Thailand is considered weak in some areas, such as a commitment to provide free support to less developed nations exhibiting at the expo. Also, there may be a lack of cohesive effort from state agencies on streamlining visa regulations and custom duties.

There were some irregularities during the visit of the Enquiry Mission to Ayutthaya. The TCEB invited the media to visit the venue, but Thongchai did not appear, claiming illness. On the same day

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Survey – Thais not taking sides and 66% prioritise health care

The Thaiger

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Survey – Thais not taking sides and 66% prioritise health care | The Thaiger

The majority of respondents to a Super Poll survey, say that they are still waiting to see where they will put their future support. For now they’re saying they neither support the Government or Opposition, preferring to wait to assess their performance.

Super Poll conducted the survey on 1,069 people from a wide range of occupations nationwide between October 1519.

The director of Super Poll, Noppadol Kannikar, says that one interesting finding was that 67.2% of respondents admitted that they prefer not to take sides, with the Government or Opposition, because both are currently under-performing and they want to wait to assess their performance.

But 16.9% of the respondents are supportive of the coalition Government, compared to 15.9% who oppose it.

On the question of Government spending, the survey showed 65.9% want quality health care as their top priority, 59.8% want good and secure jobs, 54.3% want security for their lives and property, 50.8% want increased road safety, 48.2% want government help for small and medium-size enterprises and 37.0% want government to provide them with housing.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thai Life

Top 10 English news sources in Thailand (2019)

The Thaiger

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Top 10 English news sources in Thailand (2019) | The Thaiger

…in English, in no particular order.

This post is mainly for newbies, tourists and people-interested-in-Thailand. Locals already have their home favorite news sources. But all these Top 10 do it well, in their own way. All are trying to navigate their way through the labyrinth of modern media, some better than others, whilst punching out daily news. We think they’re all stars because doing media in Thailand, in English, is a tough gig.

These are all news and information sources and the list doesn’t include the myriad of excellent blogs around – a topic for another Top 10.

1. Bangkok Post

Traditional news, still delivered as a daily newspaper, but with an expansive and thorough website. It’s been going since 1946 and reported on a coup or two, or three. As far as making the move into digital media is concerned, Bangkok Post is doing it better than most. Editorially it has has taken a, mostly, neutral political stance with a few exceptions. But, as newspapers go, it walks down the middle fairly reliably. It is currently the leading English language news portal in Thailand and deserves its position on top.

2. The Thaiger

Please indulge us as we put our own website and news in the Top 10. The Thaiger, only running as a national website since April 2018, remains the fastest growing English-speaking online-only news and information site in the Kingdom (according to the ‘stats’).

The Thaiger curates the news and chooses topics it believes will be interesting, important or newsworthy, in English, Thai and now Vietnamese too. The Thaiger bought out the Phuket Gazette’s digital assets in August 2017 but now has a national and regional focus, whilst continuing to pay homage to its home turf in Phuket. Currently has the second highest readership of any English-speaking news website in Thailand.

3. The Nation

The Nation was the other major daily coming out of Bangkok, well for 48 years anyway, was a lot newer than Bangkok Post when it started up in 1971. The Nation took a more partisan line, famously turning its editorial voice against PM Thaksin Shinawatra. In latter years the paper struggled with circulation and was taken over by Sontiyan Chuenruetainaidhama, founder of conservative outlets T News and INN News. Falling circulation and advertising revenues eventual killed off the printed daily version. Final issue June 28, 2019. The Nation changed their domain name (suicidal) and continues as an online-only news source with an excellent coverage of local Thai politics.

4. ThaiVisa

Used to be the biggest and most popular news website in Thailand (in English). If it moves or breathes, you’d find the story on ThaiVisa. It’s full of news copied and pasted from partners who agree to share their news on the site. It’s also famous, or infamous, for its hugely popular forums where keyboard warriors dispense their opinions and wisdom on everything, usually tearing just about everything in Thailand to shreds. Whilst it was once the biggest English-speaking news website in Thailand for a decade it is now being challenged by new sources moving into the same web space. Plenty of info, a lot out of date, about visas and other snippets about living in Thailand.

5. Khaosod English

Fresh, selective, well-written and a rising star in real Thai english-language journalism. An offshoot of it’s much bigger Thai-language sister. To the point, original stories with a modern journalistic spark. They tend to choose their stories and provide excellent insight when they do. Original and deserving of your daily read.

6. Coconuts

Most would agree that when Coconuts started it was the best and cheekiest news blog for its time. Actually covering all of South East Asia, it’s Bangkok blog was a daily log-on for most hip expats. Now they’ve taken the brave ‘paywall’ option (because people want to pay for good journalism they say) which seems to have killed off some of their web traffic but the company says they will persist with the subscription model. In our opinion it’s lost a bit of its verve but it’s still a healthy and reliable daily read for Thailand and the region. Singapore it its most popular location, Thailand is third.

7. Thailand News

A shameless aggregator, they copy and paste headlines and a few paragraphs with a link to the original story. Designed to rank in Google, the site is still in its early days. To avoid any copyright issues, the stories usually include a photo library ‘look-a-like’, instead of the real photo from the story. For all we know the entire site could be run by cleverly-coded robots.

There is no sign of a human touch anywhere. Rather than a contributor to the world of Thai journalism, the site is just a parasite using everyone else’s news. Bottomline, it’s nicely set up and has, well, most of the stories around Thailand, all in one neat package.

8. Chiang Rai Times

Chiang Rai Time is a local website that is regularly updated, nicely laid out, aggregates most of the main international stories and has plenty of local news relevant to the residents of northern cities of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. You may notice a similarity with The Thaiger as they used the same WordPress theme – we’ll take it as a compliment. There’s also Chiang Mai City Life which is a bit less ‘newsie’ and has plenty of northern lifestyle info in addition to the local news.

9. The Pattaya News

Whilst the rest of Thailand does things one way, Pattaya does things differently, in every aspect, including its media. But The Pattaya News does a better job than most with daily content, some original, and translating stories from Thai media. Easy to navigate, clear and readable, unlike a lot of others!

10. Thai PBS World

A government news agency but has demonstrated its independence over the years. As a website it’s had more face-lifts than Joan Rivers but remains solid, reliable and surprisingly (especially as it’s run by a quasi-military government) unbiased. Also tends to cover stories the other news sources don’t.

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