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Thailand News: Landmark visit by Obama to Myanmar part of Southeast Asia tour

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand News: Landmark visit by Obama to Myanmar part of Southeast Asia tour | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Obama to make landmark visit to Myanmar
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: President Barack Obama later this month will become the first US leader to visit Myanmar, marking the strongest international endorsement so far, of the fragile democratic transition in the once-isolated Southeast Asian country, after decades of military rule.

Obama will travel to Myanmar as part of a November 17-20 tour of Southeast Asia that will include stops in Thailand and Cambodia, the White House said as it confirmed his first international trip since he won a second term in Tuesday’s election.

He is going ahead with the trip despite recent sectarian violence in western Myanmar, which has drawn concern from the United States and European Union.

U.N. human rights investigators have criticized the quasi-civilian government’s handling of the strife between Buddhists and minority Muslims, and some Myanmar exiles see Obama’s trip as premature before political reforms have been consolidated.

The visit to Myanmar, the first by a sitting US president, will give Obama a chance to meet President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to encourage the “ongoing democratic transition,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Suu Kyi spent years in detention under the military as the symbol of the pro-democracy movement and was elected to parliament in April.

Obama’s presence in Myanmar, also known as Burma, will highlight what his administration sees as a first-term foreign policy achievement and a development that could help counter China‘s influence in a strategically important region.

Washington takes some credit for a carrot-and-stick approach that pushed Myanmar’s generals toward democratic change and led to Thein Sein taking office as reformist president in 2011.

Obama will be in Myanmar on November 19, according to a senior government source in Yangon.

While marking a milestone in US efforts to promote reform in Myanmar, he also risks criticism for rewarding the new government too soon, especially after security forces failed to prevent bloody ethnic violence in the west of the country.

Some 89 people were killed in clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and minority Muslim Rohingyas, according to the latest official toll covering the last 10 days of October. Many thousands more have been displaced by the violence.

The US Campaign for Burma, an exile group, said Obama’s trip could “undermine the democracy activists and ethnic minorities,” but that if the president was intent on going, he should broaden his agenda to include meetings with the still-powerful military and an address to parliament.

A senior administration official said Obama, who will also speak to civil society groups, was “acutely aware” of concerns about human rights, ethnic violence and political prisoners in Myanmar and would address those issues during his visit.

Sanctions eased
The United States eased sanctions on Myanmar this year in recognition of the political and economic changes under way, and many US companies are looking at starting operations in the country, located between China and India, which has abundant resources and low-cost labor.

In November 2011, Hillary Clinton became the first US secretary of st

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Expats

Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple

May Taylor

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Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple | The Thaiger

The “OSS Foreigner” app is coming, and you will be able to use it for 90 day reporting, according to the Secretary-General at the office of the PM.

Dr Kobsak Pootrakool says the planned app can be used for all immigration reporting, including 90 day reports, adding that typing in the required data and uploading a selfie will accomplish the same result as filling out paperwork at the local immigration office but without having to make the trip there.

Dr Kobsak has been given responsibility for sorting out the TM30 debate and says the immigration app, called OSS Foreigner, is nearly complete and should make all those who live and work in Thailand feel more welcome and make compliance easier and more convenient.

The TM30 form, and its companion, the TM28, have been a source of expat displeasure over the past five months since the immigration department decided to enforce a little-used 1979 law that required foreigners to report their whereabouts if they had stayed overnight at an address different from their registered address.

This latest move comes as part of a wider program to make Thai public services more efficient, with Dr Kobsak making the announcement while outlining plans for all Thai government departments to embrace digital technology by as early as 2022. Meanwhile, the Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak is championing a programme to improve Thai public services for both Thai citizens and foreigners.

“The government’s new approach to IT and digital technology is designed to deliver a smarter, easier service as part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Crime

Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued

May Taylor

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Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued | The Thaiger

The Nation reports that 3 underage sex workers have been rescued after raids on a karaoke restaurant and a karaoke massage parlour in Ang Thong, central Thailand.

The raids were confirmed at a press conference held by Ronnarong Thipsiri, Head of the Department of Provincial Administration’s investigation and suppression division, along with Sakda Bandasak, sheriff of Ang Thong’s Muang district. Ronnarong alleges both premises were using the underage girls as prostitutes.

“We collaborated with Damrong Dhama Centre and anti-human trafficking organisations and learnt that two karaoke joints in Ang Thong were employing underage sex workers. These were the Chil Chil Karaoke on Highway No. 3064, Pa Ngiew sub district of Muang district, and Jittra Karaoke on the ground floor of a hotel in Muang district.”

During the raids, police identified 6 sex workers offering services to a group of customers. Four of the girls were Thai and two were from Laos. Three were under the age of 18, with the youngest being 15 years old. A large number of used condoms were also found.

Somjit Phetwijit and Aphirom Pheungpracha, the owners of Chil Chil Karaoke and Jittra Karaoke respectively were arrested and charged with human trafficking, solicitation of prostitution, prostitution of an underage person, and opening an entertainment facility without a licence.

A 17 year old girl from Jittra Karaoke told the press she was hired to sit and drink with clients and was paid 50 baht each time a client ordered a drink.

“Clients can buy sex for 1,500 baht a time or pay 3,500 baht for a whole night. They can either use massage rooms in the back or bring the girls to other hotels of their choice.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Business

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain

May Taylor

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Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain | The Thaiger

(…or is that a 90% ‘steak’?)

PHOTOS: Wongnai

DealStreetAsia, an investor news site reporting on Asian business, confirms that Singha Corporation has purchased a majority stake in the Thai restaurant chain, Santa Fe. It’s understood that Singha purchased the shares held by Lakeshore Capital for approximately US$50 million or 1.53 billion baht, giving it a 90% stake in the chain seen in most Thai shopping centres.

The Nation reports that Singha will now oversee over 110 restaurants across Thailand in one of the country’s biggest food industry deals of the year. The company first turned its attention to the food industry two years ago, launching Food Factors Company under the Boon Rawd Brewery group.

WongnaiFood Factors aims to make 5 billion baht over 3 years under the stewardship of Piti Bhirombhakdi. The company has an ambitious long-term target of 10 billion baht a year, along with plans to be listed on the stock exchange.

The Santa Fe chain was established in 2003 by Surachai Charn-Anudet’s KT Restaurant Company, with the aim of becoming a major competitor to Sizzler, the American chain brought to Thailand by Minor Food.

SOURCE: The Nation

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand's Santa Fe restaurant chain | News by The Thaiger

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