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Phra Phromsitti surrenders over alleged embezzlement of temple funds

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phra Phromsitti surrenders over alleged embezzlement of temple funds | The Thaiger

The former abbot of Wat Sa Ket has become the latest senior monk to become a guest of the Bangkok Remand Prison after surrendering to police yesterday.

Previously known as Phra Phromsitti (Thongchai Sukhayano), the former abbot had absconded for nearly one week before he contacted police.

“He claims he did not report himself to police earlier because he wanted to mark the Visakha Bucha Day,” an informed source said yesterday. Visakha Bucha Day was on Tuesday.

A police source revealed that the monk’s surrender took place after the Crimes Suppression Division (CSD) circulated a letter instructing immigration officials to detain three people close to the former abbot on sight.

According to the source, the CSD believes the trio – which includes a Laotian – might have helped the former abbot elude police last week.

On May 24, Phra Phromsitti was the only monk from Sa Ket Temple to elude capture during the police raid. The other monk on the run, Phra Phrommedhi (Chamnong Dhammajari), is the abbot of Samphanthawongsaram Temple. As of press time, the whereabouts of Phra Phrommedhi is still unknown. Five other monks implicated in the same scandal were arrested, denied bail and defrocked that day.

The National Buddhism Office has accused several senior monks of embezzling state funds for temples. The Sangha Supreme Council (SSC) – the country’s highest body for monastic affairs – dismissed Phra Phromsitti, Phra Phrommedhi and Sam Phraya Temple abbot Phra Phromdilok (Euan Hasadhammo) as its members last week.

Yesterday, the Royal Gazette promulgated the King’s royal command to strip the monks of their monastic ranks. Under this royal command, the four other implicated monks also lost their monastic titles. Even though the former abbot of Sa Ket Temple has already lost his monastic rank and left monkhood, he is still revered by many people.

A number of his followers gathered at the CSD yesterday to support him. The former Phra Phromsitti surrendered at Sa Ket Temple.

The monk was brought to the CSD where he was interrogated for three hours. He was expressionless as he left the CSD. Police asked for permission from the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases to detain him at a prison. The court granted the permission and decided to not grant bail to Phra Phromsitti. His lawyer had brought 1 million baht in cash for his bail plea.

62 year old Phra Phromsitti was ordained in 1976 and had been in monkhood until being defrockment yesterday. At the height of his monastic days, he was not just the abbot of Sa Ket Temple but also held several other important monastic positions.

A source said Thongchai plans to hold a press conference on the allegations against him in the near future. The ongoing police investigation suggested that Thongchai must have played a role in illegitimately funnelling more than 79 million baht from the Sa Ket Temple in recent years.

Some of the money reportedly went to a company that existed only on paper and was controlled by a woman who was close to a senior monk at the Sa Ket Temple.

Phra Phromsitti surrenders over alleged embezzlement of temple funds | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation



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Bangkok

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling

Bill Barnett

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Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

PHOTOS: Rosewood Bangkok

For hotel owners and managers in South East Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past ten years has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set. Despite soaring and sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economy, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.

Have we reached the tipping point?

I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.

What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.

While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provides a bespoke appeal.

Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101 key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.

So, what about rates?

On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at the MahaNakhon skyscraper.

With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.

As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push up average daily rates. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.

Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?

To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and  smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rates, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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Plastics

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | The Thaiger

By the end of 2019 Thailand will be free from three types of plastic – microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics.

Then by 2022 four other types of single-use plastics will also be banned – lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick; styrofoam food containers for takeaways; plastic cups and plastic straws – according to a road map approved by the Cabinet.

The Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030 also includes an ambitious plan for Thailand to use 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2027 in various forms, including turning waste into energy.

The Cabinet has acknowledged the road map and assigned the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry to formulate a draft action plan for plastic waste management, so it is in line with the 20-year national strategy.

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

The Cabinet also called for clear details on related agencies’ role in the integration of the work for managing plastic waste, which will also get huge participation from the private and business sectors. The related state agencies should create various mechanisms to propel this forward such as creating a good understanding among agencies, continuously implementing a public relations campaign via social media to achieve the set goals, the Cabinet instructed.

The work procedure must consider lifecycle plastic-waste management so steps are taken from the very start: with plastic products designed applying the “Eco Design” approach, manufacturing and post-consumption disposal which will include garbage separation, transport and storing, recycling and proper disposal.

According to the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Thais generate as much as 1.14 kilogram of garbage per head per day, contributing to the 27.04 million tonnes of waste per year.

One person uses approximately eight plastic bags a day – or 500 million plastic bags per day for the whole nation.

Most of the plastic waste ends up in the oceans, accounting for 16% of garbage in the seas.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

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