– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.
PHUKET: Tens of thousands of soldiers and police officers have been deployed to maintain calm in Bangkok as red-shirted protesters prepare to convert their current “rally” into demonstrations against last month’s decision by Thailand’s Supreme Court to seize 46 billion baht of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s assets.
According to The Times Online, the Thai government has warned of unrest as 50,000 security personnel, including 30,000 from the army, 10,000 police officers and 10,000 civil defence volunteers, lined streets and highways to deter “unruly protesters”. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said that fresh elections, and his resignation, were possible options to quell dissent. “I will not hold on to power,” he told parliament. “If the House dissolution or my departure will make things better, I have no problem at all. But a coup is totally unacceptable to me.”
Meanwhile, the Phuket Gazette notes that Phuket continues calm this morning, with the island unlikely to be directly affected by the protests as there are no known plans for any anti-government demonstrations here.
Bombs explode in Surat Thani, Thailand
Five bombs rocked Thailand’s southern province of Surat Thani yesterday morning as the anti-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) began moving to Bangkok for the mass gathering aimed to topple the government. No one was wounded in the five incidents. Two bombs exploded almost simultaneously near a Tesco Lotus supermarket and a resting area in the municipality, after three bombs hit the province earlier in the day. An unexploded homemade bomb was also found. Police said the bombs were detonated by mobile phones. It is believed the bombs were intended to create disturbance ahead of the mass demonstrations of the UDD in Bangkok, which began yesterday.
Thai bank in billion dollar takeover deal
Thanachart Bank Pcl, a Thai lender partly owned by Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia, will pay about $2.14 billion for Siam City Bank Pcl in a two- step purchase to create Thailand’s fifth-biggest bank. The combined institution will have 660 branches and 18,000 employees, Scotiabank said.
Scotiabank has operations in about 50 countries and does business in 12 Asian markets, including Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Thai purchase is targetted to add about 5 cents a share to earnings in the first year and 10 cents by the third year. The second stage of the takeover will be completed by July.
Cheap, eco-friendly Nissan for Thailand
Japan’s Nissan Motor Co on Friday kicked off production of its eco-car, the Nissan March, in Thailand, targeting the domestic and regional markets. The new car is to be the first model on the market under Thailand’s eco-car program, which offers auto manufacturers tax incentives to produce energy-efficient vehicles in the Kingdom. The company is producing the March for the Thai market and for export to other Asia-Pacific countries. In Thailand, the March is to be priced at 375,000 to 537,000 baht, making it one of the cheapest cars on the local market.
— Gazette Editors
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