Phuket SEZ a dream?; Mega-show for Phuket; Election fraud; court begins

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news about Thailand from around the world, compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.

Special Economic Zones: Phuket hopes remain a dream

In a development sure to raise eyebrows in Phuket, Sa Kaew province has been chosen to become a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to promote trade and investment in eastern Thailand, as well as developing the area as an economic corridor to link with China and other countries via Cambodia and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, two decades of hope, effort and red herrings from Bangkok have yet to culminate in SEZ status for Phuket despite the island’s position as Thailand’s number two or three province for generation of foreign currency reserves.

For further background on Phuket as a candidate for SEZ, duty free or special administrative status, see the Phuket Gazette‘s reports of July 1, 2010; March 6, 2009; February 7, 2008; and December 1, 2004.

None of the Phuket proposals to achieve special economic status has ever reached the Cabinet in Bangkok for consideration.

Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said the SEZ in Sa Kaew would be a gateway to link Thailand’s eastern provinces to Cambodia and countries bordering the South China Sea.

The zone will be proposed for Cabinet approval early next month, he said. Moreover, the Commerce Ministry will ask for Cabinet approval to set up a committee on promoting cross-border growth and to ensure systematic management of the SEZ.

The new special economic zone will be developed based on the model of a similar such zone in Mae Sot, which has been successfully established for promoting trade and investment growth in the Northwest, Alongkorn said.

Phuket to host Asian Hospitality Show

The first annual Asian Hospitality and Travel Show is confirmed to take place October 1 – 3.

Presented by the Phuket International Academy Sports and Leisure Club, the show is the first of its kind to bring together vendors and buyers covering the whole spectrum of the Asian hospitality and tourism industry.

In addition to thousands of local visitors, the show is expected to attract more than 100 exhibitors and over 2,000 industry professionals to the Central Festival Phuket Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Organized by Events Thailand, the three-day show offers exhibits, seminars, workshops, demonstrations, special events and networking opportunities.

Among those attending from the region, the show is expected to attract most of Phuket’s major hotels, resorts, restaurants, travel agencies, and related businesses.

The event is sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and PGTV.

Thailand’s Constitution Court to investigate fraud claims

Earth Times
Thailand’s Constitution Court yesterday began examining witnesses in an election fraud case against the country’s ruling Democrat Party that could end in the party’s dissolution.

The court heard three witnesses from the Election Commission, which has accused the Democrats of misusing 29 million baht (906,250 dollars) in government-supplied campaign funds during the 2005 general election. The trial is expected to last several months.

The case is one of two filed by the commission against the Democrats that could lead to the party’s dissolution and the banning of its executives from politics, including party leader Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Last month, the Constitution Court accepted another case against the Democrat Party, accusing it of receiving 25.8 million baht in illicit campaign donations from a private company in 2004.

No trial date has been set for this case.

Thailand joins fight against pirates

The Bangkok Post
The Royal Thai Navy is prepared to send two ships to join the United Nations and the United States in the suppression of piracy in Somalia, says navy chief Admiral Kamthorn Poomhiran.

He says the navy is ready in terms of personnel and equipment for the mission, but is still waiting for cabinet approval.

A source said the navy is interested in taking part in the suppression to gain experience in an international peace-keeping role. Moreover, Thai ships had earlier been hijacked by the Somali pirates.

Meanwhile, Col Sithichai Makkunchorn, the spokesman for the Royal Thai Armed Forces Command, said it was reported to a meeting of the armed forces commanders yesterday that the Thai army is preparing to dispatch Task Force 980, a battalion, or about 800 troops, to Darfur, Sudan, to serve on the UN peace-keeping mission there.

Weapons and equipment will be transported by boat to Sudan on Sept 1. They are expected to arrive in Mukja on Sept 25, Col Sithichai said.

The first group of 397 soldiers will leave for Sudan on a chartered flight on Oct 25, and the second group of 400 on Nov 23, he added.

Ethnic Thais press for rights

The Irrawaddy
Leaders of Thailand’s hill tribes and other indigenous groups have established an ethnic council to press the government in Bangkok to guarantee their communities the same rights that Thai citizens enjoy.

The council was formed at a three-day seminar in Chiang Mai that ended yesterday, which marked ‘International Indigenous Day’.

The seminar, attended by about 200 representative of Thailand’s hill tribes and other indigenous people, was organized by the Network for Indigenous Peoples in Thailand (NIPT).

Sakda Saenmi, the NIPT secretariat coordinator, said the council would provide a network for discussing the problems of Thailand’s indigenous people.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News

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