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Thailand News: Thaksin visits Hong Kong amid cabinet reshuffles

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

Thaksin’s Hong Kong visit ‘not linked’
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s visit to Hong Kong this weekend has nothing to do with the Cabinet reshuffle or the selection of a new Pheu Thai Party leader, the ex-PM’s legal adviser told the media yesterday.

“Thaksin is just visiting to meet with his friends, including MPs and ministers, but that does not mean he is linked to the Cabinet line-up,” Noppadon Pattama said.

Thaksin is expected to head to London after the Hong Kong visit.

Noppadon said the former prime minister had been told about Yongyuth Wichaidit vacating his seat in the House of Representatives as well as quitting the post of party leader.

“I understand that Thaksin has voiced regrets about Yongyuth’s exit, but he has also commended him for showing his spirit to put the party’s interests before his personal problems,” he said.

The lawyer reiterated that Thaksin would not exert any influence in the naming of the new Pheu Thai leader. He added that the party’s executive board was scheduled to meet on Monday to decide which deputy leader should take over as caretaker pending the appointment of Yongyuth’s successor in a month or two.

He said veterans from the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai party, as well as Pheu Thai executives and outsiders, would be given equal opportunities for the post. Noppadon explained that the new leader should be accepted within the ranks and possess administrative skills, adding that politicking abilities were not a job requirement.

“It is not necessary that the party leader be a politician, because Pheu Thai operates under given policies,” he said.

As for whether retired national police chief Priewpan Damapong would be considered, he said he had not heard the name being brought up.

In relation to the Cabinet reshuffle, he said he did not think the rearranging of posts would take place this month. He added that changes should happen after the censure debate, which has tentatively been scheduled for next month.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said Yongyuth should have waited to clear his name before stepping down as party leader, adding that the politician’s early exit would be used as a politicking tool by the opposition Democrat Party.

Yongyuth gave up his positions in the government, the legislature and the party after Democrats initiated a judicial and administrative review of his job status.

Under the Constitution, someone accused of a disciplinary offense is banned from holding a House seat or joining the Cabinet.

The foreign minister also dismissed allegations that Thaksin’s sister Yaowapa Wongsawat wielded influence over Pheu Thai, saying she was a former MP and maintained contact with “everyone” from the days of Thai Rak Thai to the present. “It is not easy for a former MP to turn her back on politics, but Yaowapa does not interfere,” he said.

Surapong added that many people might consider her a faction leader, but the truth is that she talks to all younger politicians who hold her in high respect.

Despite speculation that Yaowapa might become Pheu Thai party leader, he said that as far as he knows, she has already turned down the offer. When asked about Priewpan’s prospects, he said anybody with administrative experience could apply.

However, he side-stepped the question of whether Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra would take over as party leader. “The party has had several bitter experiences as independent organizations appear to be unfair,” he said.

Separately, Pheu Thai secretary-general Charupong Ruangsuwan said the party’s executive board would meet on Monday to decide on Yongyuth’s successor, not just an acting leader. He said it was not necessary for people to submit their applications because the executives had possibly already decided who should lead their party.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat said he had not been approached. “I don’t think I am a candidate for the job, so please stop speculating,” he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand, delivered fresh, and free, to you. Hosted by Tim Newton. Catch the latest updates and Thai News.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments yesterday.

A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021. The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

Bleak outlook for Thailand’s hotels

Thailand’s hotels are facing a very dark time with the Thai borders still largely closed and the vast majority of Thailand’s hotels remaining closed for business.

There are 1000s of hotels and a related millions of staff, waiting for things to improve. C9hotelworks.com MD, Bill Barnett, is one of the region’s most respected consultants for the industry. We asked Bill, how are they all surviving? (Run interview video… 2.56 – 3.35)

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort

After coming in for some negative online attention recently, the land title deeds of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort have been investigated and found “to be in order”.

The 5-star hotel first attracted the attention of netizens when its owner, Vorasit Issara, publicly criticised an anti-government activist.

His Instagram tirade prompted outrage from those who support the current protest movement, with netizens calling for a boycott of his property.

Shortly after, the Civil Society for State Welfare called on the Social Security Office to clarify its investment in the resort’s trust fund. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

Responding to the land rights issue, the Phuket Land Office has issued a statement to say the hotel does not occupy state land.

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month…again.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures.

Now, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily as the county starts welcoming back visitors.

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival goes ahead next month

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that!

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will take place from October 17 to 25.

Given the fireworks and crackers exploding in your face if you attend any of the events, it’s probably a good idea that the Governor is insisting visitors wear face masks. We’d recommend eye googles as well.

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival.

The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

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Economy

Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal

Caitlin Ashworth

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Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

It’s going to be another 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back on track, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. At least that’s the amount of time he expects it will take to get the economy back to “normal levels” from before the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis crippled economies across the globe. The Covid-19 pandemic is already the worst global crisis since World War II, according to a report by the UN. Thailand’s tourism-dependant economy has been struggling since the country shut it’s doors to international travel. Krungthai Bank also predicts it will take about 2 to 3 years for Thailand’s economy to recover and the Finance Ministry predicts Thailand’s economy will contract by a record of 8.5% this year.

Almost 800 billion baht has gone into supporting the economy, Supattanapong says, adding that the government plans to do more stimulus perks to help boost the economy. The government is working on a 1.9 trillion baht response package with a 1 trillion baht borrowing plan.

Supattanapong’s guesses are based on the pandemic situation not getting any worse, whilst the world’s Covid cases, in many part of the world, including many of Thailand’s feeder markets, are suffering a new spike in cases. His assumptions would also have to include an immediate return to high profit of the country’s tourism industry – not likely to happen any time soon.

“I think the economy should get back to normal levels within two years… But if we can manage it very well, we may see that late next year.”

While Thailand’s economy as a whole might take just 2 years to get back to normal, the country’s tourism revenue is expected to take even longer. Krungthai COMPASS Research Centre predicts it will be at least 3 to 4 years until tourism revenue is back to normal. Thailand’s tourism revenue is expected to shrink by 70% by the end of this year, making only 9.1 billion baht compared to the 3.02 trillion baht tourism brought in last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

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Thailand

Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Prachachat

The government just sealed the deal to build Thailand’s first factory to produce cancer-treating medicine and chemicals, a move that is expected to cut treatment drug costs in half. Buying imported cancer-treating drugs is expensive. Thailand spends about 21 billion baht per year on imported cancer medicine, according to Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The local factory is intended to give Thais more affordable and also more accessible medicines for treating cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Thailand, Anutin says, adding that each year, 80,000 people in Thailand die from cancer.

Thailand's first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: CDC Thailand

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation signed a contract with PTT to build the plant. Construction will be begin in 2022 and they would start producing commercially until 2027. The factory will produce variety of drugs for many different types of cancer, including drugs for chemotherapy, according to the organisation’s managing director.

“This factory will have the capacity to produce 30 million units of chemotherapy drugs and 31 million units of biological drugs per year, with a focus on patents that will expire first. Once there is enough for domestic use, we can boost our production capacity for export. This will make cancer drugs cheaper in the country and will also help push for them to be included in the national list of most-needed medications.”

The factory is planned to be in Rayong’s Ban Chang district at the PTT Wanarom Eco Zone Industries estate. The feasibility study is expected to take 14 months.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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