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Thai Army chief promises overhaul of army business involvement and practices

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Thai Army chief promises overhaul of army business involvement and practices | Thaiger
PHOTO: A clearly emotional General Apirat apologised for Korat incident and promised changes will be made - Reuters

Thailand’s Army commander in chief General Apirat Kongsompong is planning a dramatic make-over to the inner workings of the Thai military’s business operations. The moves are in the wake of last weekend’s mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima on February 8 where 29 people were shot and killed by an armed soldier (who was also shot and killed).

58 other were injured.

Last week Gen Apirat said he would “bring back transparency and accountability” to the business operations at the country’s barracks. He said he admits that the army has long been stained by alleged irregularities in issues ranging from welfare housing to loans involving cozy partnerships between military units and private merchants.

For example the Thai army runs sporting facilities, boxing stadiums, golf courses and resorts – many of which will now come under a new microscope following the mass shooting incident.

Problems with paid commissions on a housing project is thought to have sparked an argument between the gunman, Jakrapanth Thomma, and his base commander. He gunned down his commander, and the man’s mother in law, before heading to a temple, and then to Korat’s Terminal 21 and killing innocent shoppers.

The General promised to “hastily examine a range of army projects and current practices” in army-operated businesses which have attracted criticism in the past. His targets include more than 30 golf courses, many partly commercialised and open to the public, 126 radio stations around the country, and a TV station (Channel 5). Coffee houses, restaurants and convenience stores on military compounds are also going to be fully reviewed.

The Army’s staunchest critic, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from the Future Forward Party, has described the income from these businesses as “off-budget funds”. He said he feels uncomfortable about this money as it is not returned to state revenue, making much of the business exempt from close scrutiny.

General Apirak, fiercely loyal to the quasi-democratic military government and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, says he is prepared to take on the challenges of cronyism and nepotism, when Army commanders in the past have allowed these issues to slide, caving in to pressure to maintain the status quo. He said the events in Nakhon Ratchasima necessitated a change in culture.

But many doubt if the General’s best intentions and efforts will be successful as he’ll be challenging long-established conventions and will encounter a lot of push-back, mostly behind closed doors, from officers currently benefitting from this business arrangements.

The General also announced a memorandum of understanding this week that will be signed with the Finance Ministry to ensure “better management of the army’s commercial and welfare schemes”. He also wants the private sector to replace the army in running many of the businesses currently run by the Army. The MoU is designed to pave the way for the Thai Finance Ministry to collect income from the new business owners and disperse fairly to the army or go into general revenue.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority announces health and safety regulations

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Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority announces health and safety regulations | Thaiger
Stock photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand says airlines must continue to follow health and safety regulations as the country has seen a 3rd wave of the Covid-19 virus. The authority says new guidelines to take effect today include…

• Maintaining social distancing practises on passenger services at all levels of operations, from check-in and boarding and disembarking.

• Passengers are required to wear masks at all times during the flight, while using hand sanitiser and washing hands.

• Food and drinks cannot be served or consumed on board. Crews may offer drinking water to passengers in predetermined social distancing areas in the aircraft.

• Newspapers, magazines, or brochures provided on board are prohibited except for safety cards or pamphlets.

• Pilots are required to wear masks, while all cabin crew must wear both masks and gloves at all times when on duty.

• Flights longer than 90 minutes must set aside seats in the last 2 rows in case someone falls sick on board.

Today, Thailand has reported 965 people as infected with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. The daily total is the first drop in daily numbers for 13 days. 28,288 people have fully recovered. The total deaths remains at 97 people since the start of the pandemic in Thailand. 6,190 people remain under hospital care or are being monitored. 654 of today’s cases are local community infections.

The country recently has seen a 3rd wave of the virus, with Bangkok entertainment venues being considered the epicentre. Thong Lor district in Bangkok has also seen the UK variant B117 in many of its infections. Now, it is the most prominent strain of Covid-19 in the UK.

Studies showed that the B117 strain is more deadly, with 1 study showing deaths from UK variant infections were 30 to 100% higher than earlier variants. The strain also has at least 23 mutations identified so far. However, a new study by The Lancet indicates that even though the strain has a higher reproductive and transmission rate, it is not more severe.

SOURCE: TAT News

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Thailand looks at proposal to make it easier for expats and long-termers

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Thailand looks at proposal to make it easier for expats and long-termers | Thaiger
Stock photo via Thailand Work Permit & Visa

Thailand is looking to make it easier for expats and long-term visa holders to stay in the country. The Immigration Bureau is hoping to boost investments and the economy once the pandemic is over. The proposed changes could do away with 90 day reporting requirements which have been well-received by expats.

Recently, the online website to report 90 day check-ins has been down, citing maintenance issues. Hotel staff have also been dealing with the TM-30 reporting system being down. Chayotid Kridakorn, a former head of JP Morgan Securities Thailand, told the Bangkok Post that immigration hoops are a key pain point for foreigners working in Thailand.

“We want to make it easier for foreigners to live and work in Thailand.”

Meanwhile, plans to help Thailand recover economically have been detailed in a framework to be proposed to the government’s economic panel in the next month. Improvements to immigration regulations, work permits for foreign experts, and visa applications are on the framework list. Relaxing location reporting requirements for foreign workers which is done through the 90 day reporting, is also slated to be amended.

The framework also will include inducements for foreign investors such as corporate income-tax cuts, relaxed property-holding rules and incentives for retirees and start-up companies. An adviser to Thailand’s Deputy PM, says he aims to bring in 1 million retirees or pensioners over the next few years. He says expats could collectively contribute as much as 1.2 trillion baht to the economy each year. But Thailand’s gross domestic product growth won’t return to pre-Covid levels until the 3rd quarter of 2022, according to the Bank of Thailand.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: Daily infection number drops slightly on Tuesday

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Covid UPDATE: Daily infection number drops slightly on Tuesday | Thaiger

965 people have been detected as infected with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. The daily total is the first drop in daily numbers for 13 days. 28,288 people have fully recovered. The total deaths remains at 97 people since the start of the pandemic in Thailand. 6,190 people remain under hospital care or are being monitored.

654 of today’s cases are local community infections.

Out of today’s infections, the CCSA announced that most were in the northern city of Chiang Mai (251) which has been hit particularly hard, followed by Bangkok (194), Chonburi (97), Prachuap Khiri Khan (73), Nakhon Ratchasima (67), Samut Prakan (49), Samut Sakhon (34), Rayong (25) and Pathum Thani (21). 8 new infections were officially reported in Phuket by the CCSA.

Regarding vaccinations, 578,532 people have now been vaccinated. Yesterday, 6,424 people received their first injection, 2,056 received their second Covid vaccine.

There’s now a total of 34,575 people who have now been infected with the coronavirus in Thailand.

Covid UPDATE: Daily infection number drops slightly on Tuesday | News by Thaiger

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