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US brands Yingluck impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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US brands Yingluck impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

US: Impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The United States yesterday branded the former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s impeachment as being “politically driven” and called on the junta to lift martial law as well as push for “inclusive” reform toward democracy.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel made the comment during an address at Chulalongkorn University yesterday after meeting with Yingluck, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn to exchange views on Thailand’s political situation.

“The perception of fairness is important,” he said. “I’ll be blunt here: When an elected leader is

Daniel Russel, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

deposed, impeached by the authorities that implemented the coup, and then targeted with criminal charges while basic democratic processes and institutions are interrupted, the international community is left with the impression that these steps could be politically driven”.

The junta-installed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted overwhelmingly to impeach Ms Yingluck and the anti-graft body pressed criminal charges on her for negligence of corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.

Former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who was with Ms Yingluck in the meeting with Mr Russel, said “we told the US official that Ms Yingluck’s political fate will not be different from that of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra”.

Self-exiled Thaksin was toppled by a coup in 2006 and fled from prosecution over corruption charges.

Mr Russel is the highest-ranking US official to visit Thailand after the May 22 military coup that brought down the Yingluck government. The Thailand stopover is part of his Southeast Asia trip, which includes the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Mr Russel also called on the junta to lift martial law, which has been in place since the coup.

“Ending martial law throughout the country and removing restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly are important steps as part of a genuinely inclusive reform process that reflects the broad diversity of views within the country,” he said.

“We are particularly concerned that the political process does not represent all elements of Thai society,” he said. “We are not dictating the political path that Thailand should follow to get back to democracy, or taking sides in Thai politics. But an inclusive process promotes political reconciliation, which in turn, is key to long-term stability.

“The alternative – a narrow process – risks leaving many Thai people feeling excluded from the political system.”

The same message was also conveyed to the government during his meeting yesterday with Thai Foreign Minister Tanasak.

“The two held constructive discussions and reaffirmed continuity in relations in all dimensions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee told reporters.

Mr Tanasak briefed Russel on the latest political developments here and stressed the government’s full commitment to proceed with the road map for reform.

The minister also updated Mr Russel on the progress of measures to suppress human trafficking after the US downgraded Thailand to Tier 3 last year.

The government will submit its report on the human trafficking situation to Washington by the end of this month, Mr Sek said.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha explained that Mr Russel did not pay him a courtesy call because he did not approve of how he came to power.

“But we have to separate trade and martial law, as well as economic matters and disagreement [over political issues],” the PM said. “Some countries might disagree with this government, but we still trade with them.”

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Mr Russel, former prime minister Abhisit talked about a referendum on the new charter. From the Democrat Party’s point of view, the junta-sponsored charter would be widely accepted by the people if it goes through the referendum, said deputy party leader Kiat Sittheeamorn, who was also at the meeting.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Business

Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President | The Thaiger

PHOTO: gta5-mods.com

“Thai Airways will have to modify its rehabilitation plans to survive in the face of tight competition.” This frank admission by the airline’s president Sumet Damrongchaith.

The national carrier is now carrying a total debt of over 2.45 billion baht and losses of more than 20 billion, despite being able to reduce its debts by 48 billion baht over the past five years.

Sumet says the first step will be to restructure the airline’s management and finances as well as reconsider its plan to spend 1.5 billion baht on 38 new aircraft. He admits the biggest problem is that Thai Airways has low capital but a high debt-to-equity ratio of eight times.

In order to maintain its competitiveness, the carrier will have to reduce its debts versus assets and boost its working capital with support from the ministries of Transport and Finance. Hence, it plans to borrow approximately 3.2 billion baht in fiscal 2020 in line with the budget limit set by the Office of Public Debt Management.

This loan will be taken to support the airline’s investments as well as for its working capital, to update equipment and maintain existing aircraft, but will not be used to repay old debts.

The Nation also reports that the airline is also concerned about maintaining its liquidity because at the end of June this year, its revolving credit line stood at 13.4% of the total revenue forecast for 2019.

Sumet admits that, though the original rehabilitation plan has a set framework, the situation has now changed due to the appreciation of the baht, so in order to achieve goals, the work method has to be redesigned, such as finding a way to procure more passengers.

“We are now in the process of analysing new markets.”

Meanwhile, Thai Aiways’ board chairman Aek-Niti Nitithan-Praphas says the board is reconsidering plans to procure a new fleet taking into consideration the state of the global and domestic economies as well as the US-China trade war.

“The growth of the tourism industry and the airlines’ financial status needs to be reviewed in line with strong competition and routes that are no longer popular. It’s better to carefully revise the plan instead of exposing the airline to greater risk. The target should be reduce expenses by 20%.”

Meanwhile, Thai Airways aims to boost the sale of tickets, find ways of increasing online shopping of duty-free goods and reducing unnecessary expenses by 10%without affecting the quality of service in the last three months of 2019.

The airline is also negotiating the option of cutting down overtime expenses and is looking into curbing losses incurred by it’s semi-budget offshoot Thai Smile by increasing its flying hours to 10.5 hours daily. These steps are expected to help the airline reach breakeven point in the short term.

The airline is also considering long-term goals such roping in more passengers by offering greater benefits to Royal Orchid Plus members, focusing on digital marketing, retiring non-performing assets as well as increasing revenue from related businesses such as kitchens and aircraft repair centres.

SOURCE: The Nation

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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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