Pattani triple bomb blasts throw authorities into growing state of confusion

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation–30293742.html



LIKE PREVIOUS attacks by Malay-Muslim separatist militants, the latest three bomb blasts have forced Thai security planners to scramble for answers amid growing fears that the violence in the far South may be crossing a new threshold.

On Tuesday night, suspected insurgents packed two 80-kilogram bombs inside a stolen ambulance and parked it at the front door of Pattani’s Southern View Hotel. The driver, who drove to the vicinity with the siren on, jumped out of the vehicle and hopped on to a waiting motorbike before driving off.

A minute later, the bombs went off. The explosion ripped through the hotel’s lobby, shattering windows both in the hotel and surrounding shop houses, shredding vehicles and motorbikes parked nearby and sending shockwaves across the country, which has yet to come to terms with the recent spate of bombings in seven provinces in the upper South.

As expected, policymakers in Bangkok insist that the Tuesday night attacks in Pattani were not related to the ones two weeks earlier.

Suhaimee Dulasa, a senior member of the Patani Institute, a local civil society organisation, said he was perplexed at suggestions that the Tuesday night bombings along with other similar attacks in the region, were meant to force the Thai government to make concessions at the negotiating table with MARA Patani.

“People in the region and just about everybody monitoring peace initiatives for the Patani region know very well that MARA Patani does not have any command or control over the combatants on the ground,” Suhaimee said.

From the looks of it, the bombs used on Tuesday night were deadly but not meant to come up with a body count.

The first bomb, a very small one, went off at about 10.30pm just outside a discotheque about 100 metres from the hotel. Nobody is really sure what to make of this explosion, because it does not match previous attacks.

Previously, the first bomb – usually a small one – is intended to draw security officials to the site of the attack, where they are greeted by a much bigger and more deadly bomb set off by someone within the line of vision. A third bomb detonated harmlessly after the main attack on the hotel.

However, the one on Tuesday night was different, as the explosives packed vehicle was parked more than 100 metres from the first bomb. And instead of it being set off by someone nearby, a timer was used to explode it.

The incident has made political leaders even more confused as they work to quell growing fears that the attacks two weeks ago and the one on Tuesday night are related.

If the attacks in upper South were the work of suspected insurgents as suggested by officials, then it would mean that the government’s policy for the restive region has failed, even though the authorities have claimed that they are on the right track for the South. And the fact that the insurgents have the audacity to continue with such attacks despite heightened security across the country suggests that they have absolutely no respect for the country’s security apparatus, local officials said.

Attack video puts spotlight on risks health workers face

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



THE video clip of an elderly patient kicking an on-duty hospital doctor in the neck has caused widespread shock among the public after going viral on the Internet.

Such violence, of course, deserves outright condemnation – and criticism of the patient’s actions by professional medical bodies has been intense.

The Medical Council of Thailand issued a statement describing the incident as an act of grave intimidation and an insult to the medical profession. “In no circumstances may one use violence against doctors or medical workers,” it said.

The Dental Council expressed sadness such an incident occurred, while voicing concern about the safety and welfare of health workers.

Dr Ittaporn Kanacharoen, deputy secretary general of the Medical Council, also pressed for the Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council to issue a statement on the case, noting that nurses have been the likeliest victims of such violence.

Suddenly the professionals who deserve our respect seem vulnerable when patients turn unruly. Just why would a patient seeking medical help turn violent against the gown-wearing man who was there to help him?

The 68-year-old patient, a former mayor, has never apologised to the 30-year-old doctor since the assault occurred on August 6 at Mae Jai Hospital in Phayao. Instead, the unrepentant patient went to seek treatment at another hospital.

However, the doctor has now decided to lodge a complaint with police over the incident using recordings from the hospital’s security camera as evidence.

After a clip from that same hospital footage somehow did the rounds on social media, the patient insisted, after a barrage of criticism, that the segment failed to capture how the young doctor looked down on and verbally abused him.

He claimed the clip had slandered his reputation and lodged a defamation complaint with police. “I have never been an aggressive man,” the former mayor said.

But the doctor in question has an impressive professional record, including one award for his hard work. Although he could have sought a better-paid job in big city, he chose to work at the provincial hospital.

When the case goes to the court, the doctor will have a good chance to win, given the video-clip evidence.

But this case should not end there. It deserves further study so problems that led to the assault can be identified and solutions introduced.

Authorities will have to review safety measures to determine if medical workers can be better protected.

Foreign studies show that frontline medical workers in hospitals, particularly in accident and emergency units, often experience verbal and physical violence.

In Thailand, a 2010 study titled “Workplace Violence and its Management by Nursing Personnel in Emergency Department” revealed that most nurses faced threats or violence but most were just threats and drunkenness was a major factor.

As with other workplaces and industries, employers of health professionals should provide them with a safe work environment. Authorities should also look into whether medical workers could become so overwhelmed with workloads that they turn irritable.

Medical schools and employers should also provide communications and human-relations training to health workers. Such skills, after all, can only reduce the risk of misunderstanding, ill-feeling, confrontation and assaults.

All parties concerned should come together to address the risk of violence that health workers may silently face. Had the neck-kicking incident not gone viral, society might not have been aware of the type of risks that health workers have to endure.

‘Winning strategy’ did not work out in the end for CTH

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


ALTHOUGH CTH blames the fragile economy for forcing it out of business, the truth is that the story of the country’s second-biggest pay-TV operator’s rise and fall offers another bitter lesson about a winner’s curse.

Back in late 2012, Cable Thai Holdings, led by veteran Thai investor Wichai Thongtaeng, hit the headlines as a “dark horse” in the race to bag the broadcasting rights to the English Premier League for three seasons from 2013-14 in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, leaving market leader TrueVisions confused over customer retention and revamping its marketing strategy.

CTH reportedly had to invest heavily, to the tune of Bt10 billion, to secure the top-tier soccer matches for three years.

It set a lofty goal of acquiring more than 7 million subscribers by offering affordable packages to lure mainly mass consumers.

However, its subscriber base now is 3 million, far behind its original target.

In terms of financial performance over the last two years, the 10 companies operating under CTH’s umbrella piled up debt of more than Bt24 billion and generated a loss of more than Bt6.6 billion, according to the Business Development Department of the Commerce Ministry.

Those companies are CTH Thonburi, CTH Internet, CTH Cable TV, CTH LCO, CTH Content, CTH Member, CTH Hardware, CTH G-Marketing, CTH International and CTH Plc.

Besides the massive investment, CTH encountered a rash of internal problems between its management and other shareholders such as local cable-TV operators.

From the beginning, management wanted to install a single billing system in return for those cable-TV operators’ support for a new advanced fibre-optic cable infrastructure, but they opposed this attempt.

This issue prevented CTH, led by its first chief executive officer Krissana Ngampatipong, from expanding its subscriber base via the local cable-TV operators as planned in the first year.

It then decided to expand its distribution via satellite along with the cable platform.

To make its service more attractive to a wider audience besides these soccer games, the company also invested more in securing entertainment programmes from international media powerhouses such as Fox International Channels and Hong Kong-based Celestial Tiger.

It seemed to be a huge challenge to monetise this entertainment and sports content, given the operating costs and investment in new equipment. This resulted in more than Bt24.12 billion in combined debt last year.

Meanwhile, the cable and satellite TV industry was hit hard by the change in the national broadcasting policy in 2014.

New media landscape

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Com-mission was steering the national backbone from satellite-based to terrestrial-based free TV broadcasting through the auction of 24 commercial digital TV licences.

Under this licence-based regime, cable and satellite TV operators were classified as pay-TV operators with commercials limited to six minutes per hour, while national terrestrial free-TV channels were allowed to air up to 12 minutes of commercials per hour.

After this change, local audiences started migrating to free TV channels, which also became the new rivals for pay-TV operators like TrueVisions and CTH.

Although CTH changed its leadership to Chirdsak Kukia-tinun as executive chairman in its second year and shifted its focus to sharing its acquired content with other satellite-TV platforms such as GMM Z, Sunbox and PSI Holdings, Internet protocol TV service providers and some free TV channels, this strategy did not improve the company’s revenue.

To manage the costs of satellite transponders, the company decided to discontinue its pay-TV service in PSI Holdings, Sunbox and GMM Z before the latest disclosure to pull the plug on its operations effective on Monday.

Rethinking welfare: How much can we really afford?

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THAILAND is at a juncture regarding how to design state welfare for the population. Should it go for a universal approach or place an emphasis on the poor?

When Thailand was still a relatively low-income country, the government provided welfare assistance only for the needy.

However, as Thailand’s economy has improved, it has striven to ensure that all citizens are entitled to state-provided welfare such as medical care and education.

In the late 1990s Thailand promised free education for all, in the 2000s it launched a universal healthcare scheme, and in the 2010s it began handing out monthly subsidies for all elderly people.

While no one wants to refuse welfare, there are growing concerns as to whether Thailand’s coffers can really afford such a provision of welfare.

Given that the country has a limited budget, wouldn’t it be better to spend money only on those who need it? According to the Fiscal Policy Office, about 20 million Thais qualify as poor. If 20 per cent of those are elderly and the monthly subsidy for the elderly is fixed at Bt600, the country would need to pay just Bt28.8 billion a year. But because the government now pays monthly subsidies to all the elderly, the budget for the subsidy is no less than Bt60 billion annually.

Many economists have pointed out that if the government continues such a universal approach, with the elderly of rich families also enjoying subsidies, such a welfare provision would not be sustainable.

On those grounds, senior government figures have recently suggested the elderly subsidy would be only directed towards the needy. For example, any elderly person who earns more than Bt9,000 a month or has more than Bt3 million in assets should not be entitled to the subsidy.

The government would then have more money to help people in need. Instead of just handing out subsidies, the government might open more elderly homes – which means the most to many people in frail health and in the final phases of their lives. Across Thailand, many elderly people pass away while still on the waiting list for state-run elderly homes.

Many economists have suggested that such problems would be reduced if the government learns to manage its budget more efficiently and to stop the more populist universal approach.

In many economists’ eyes, helping only those in need should also apply to the state provision of education and healthcare as well.

Their advice has not fallen on deaf ears as the government started registering low-income people in mid-July.

By the middle of this week, more than 4.12 million people will have come forward for state welfare with registration ending today.

The government has said that the registration will allow relevant agencies to design welfare based on the actual needs low-income people. Not all people should be entitled to free bus or train rides, which instead would be allocated to people who have low-income cards, according to the government.

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong has said registered individuals would get more welfare than people who have not registered.

“For example, we may give them a 50-per-cent discount on cooking gas and tap water services,” he said.

While such promises sound good, critics have raised concerns that the poor will be stigmatised and people’s rights will be affected.

These critics have said the state budget should be used efficiently, but the government had a duty to provide basic welfare for its citizens, particularly in regards to healthcare and wellbeing. Both sides have good reasons. For Thailand now, the most important thing is to find the right balance in preparing a state budget.

Let’s provide for the very basic welfare for all. Anything further than that should be provided only on the basis of neediness.

Retailers see bright online future

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


DESPITE online shopping contributing a low proportion of their sales so far, major retailers have prepared strategies to cash in on the rising trend of shoppers shifting towards the online option.

The boom of smartphone technology, social networks and online applications will play a crucial role in the growth of online activities in Thailand and other markets around the world.

Central Group’s recent acquisition of online fashion retailer Zalora in Thailand and Vietnam shows a strong commitment by Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate in the future of e-commerce.

Kridchanok Patamasatayasonthi, managing director of Index Living Mall, said the e-commerce market in Thailand was now quite competitive and would become more so in the future.

There are currently more than 38 million social-media users in Thailand, accounting for 56 per cent of the population. Such numbers are a significant driving factor for the growth of e-commerce market in Thailand.

A survey by founded that online shoppers in Thailand preferred shopping for several products online, which are fashion apparel (24 per cent), fragrances (11 per cent), furniture (10 per cent), information-technology products (8 per cent), and food and beverages (6 per cent).

“Index Living Mall has seen the business opportunity of e-commerce,” Kridchanok said.

“We have created a new online retail store for our individual clients via With the site, customers will be able to select our home-furnishing products in any category. We provide delivery and installation services from our professional teams. She said e-commerce was expected to grow strongly this year, by about 150 per cent compared with last year. In 2015, online sales surged by 100 per cent from 2014, of which 80 per cent were sales of furniture and the rest home decorative items and electrical goods.

Onsurang Keratichewanun, director of online shopping at Big C Supercenter, said the company planned to become one of the biggest online grocery-shopping outlets within five years, with year-on-year growth of more than 100 per cent.

“Thailand has huge potential for e-commerce business, since [for the past] couple of years we have been able to see there is high demand and supply via online purchases. The market will move forward to omni-channel; with the combination of online and offline, customers can order online and they can select whether to pick up the purchase at the store or [have it delivered to] their house,” Onsurang said.

At a recent press conference, John Christie, chief executive officer of Tesco Lotus, told the media that an expansion of online distribution was among the company’s three key business strategies. The others were new branches and keeping prices low.

To cash in on the change in customers’ digital lifestyles and behaviour, Tesco Lotus continues developing its online shopping platform with its partners, he said.

“We are now offering more than 8,000 non-food products via They include electronic devices, beauty and healthcare products,” he said.

Opinion split whether NCPO got all it wanted

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Drafters agree to a selected senate but some say it may not fully control parliament over 5 year transition.

POLITICAL observers are still in doubt about relations between the junta and charter writers led by Meechai Ruchupan – whether they are at loggerheads over a special mechanism to maintain peace and order during a five-year transitional period.

On the surface, it looks as if the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) tried to compromise with the four other so-called “rivers of power” by agreeing to some but not all of proposed suggestions on the draft’s provisional clause.

But after looking at the details, in fact, it appears the junta in the end got almost everything that it wanted.

As independent scholar Sirote Klampaiboon concluded, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and its supporters gain major advantages in this draft constitution.

Looking at the bigger picture, and not just at the three recent proposals, it appeared the current regime stood a high chance of retaining power and securing peace and order during the so-called transitional period, Sirote said.

He viewed the controversial proposal as a distraction that would make the charter draft more appealing.

“When compared to what the NCPO asked for, surely the constitution draft looks heavenly. Now people will feel very positive about the charter when actually all the little pieces put together are still very advantageous for the NCPO,” he said.

Satitorn Tananitichote, a scholar from King Prajadhipok’s Institute, said he believed the NCPO’s preferences for the draft had been fulfilled, because 200 senators would be selected.

He said the 200 would be sufficient to give the Senate a powerful voice in parliamentary matters. There are key decisions that both Houses would have to make jointly, such as the endorsement of the successor to the throne and the determination of whether a situation constitutes a crisis before the so-called Article 7, which confers special powers in the event of crisis, can be applied, Satitorn explained.

The 250-member Senate, dominated by the 200 selected senators, would have a crucial role in the Parliament, he said.

Asked about the CDC’s rejection of the proposal that the Senate should be able to submit censure motions, Satitorn said the drafters were well aware that an unelected Senate should not have that authority. If they had adopted that, questions would have followed, he said.

In regard to the proposal to dispense with the parties’ list of three candidates for the premiership, the CDC rejected the junta’s idea but left the door open for a person who is not connected to the political parties to become prime minister, observers said.

The CDC just made that eventuality more difficult by maintaining the three-candidate lists as was originally drafted, but adding that a list could be suspended if both parliamentary chambers could muster a two-thirds vote.

However, some observers believe the additional clauses in the provisional section that the CDC added at the NCPO’s request might prove to be too weak for the junta to control the political situation after the election.

This camp believes the most important question is how the junta will be able to prolong its power for at least five years after the election by using the Senate as a powerful weapon.

The proposal to empower the Senate during the transitional period would have given it a major role to overthrow or protect the next government in the case of a no-confidence motion, an observer said.

If the next government were an ally of the junta, it would have had at least 200 appointed senators supporting it during a censure debate.

But, if the next government were led by Pheu Thai Party, for example, the 200 senators would have been in opposition and could have merged with MPs from opposition parties to form a grand opposition coalition to oust a Pheu Thai-led government.

Sukhum Nualsakul, a former rector of Ramkhamhaeng University, agreed with this analysis, saying that the essential authority was whether the Senate could table a no-confidence vote. The powers-that-be needed that power to have full control in the transition period, he said.

A Senate that could raise a motion of no confidence would be very powerful and have a role in dictating the fate of the prime minister and the Cabinet.

However, the CDC had not granted that authority, so really the NCPO did not get what it needed, he said.

If Sukhum is right, the charter draft might be rejected by any means available so that the junta can replace it with its own draft to retain power and control in the next government, at least for the five-year transition.

Two options emerge if draft is rejected

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Govt could amend interim charter or attempt a third draft, if necessary.

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha appears to be keeping his cards close to his chest on what he plans to do should the draft charter be rejected in the public referendum. He obviously has a back-up plan, but he certainly is not revealing it to anybody right now.

“If the draft fails to make it through the referendum, then it will be my business. I tied the knot, now I must learn to untie it. I will ensure a general election is held,” the premier said.

Prayut has been insisting publicly that he will not stay in power even if the draft is rejected. In fact, he keeps reiterating that his government will stick with its earlier timeframe to hold an election by next year.

Separately, Constitution Drafting Commission chairman Meechai Ruchupan landed in hot water when he bluntly stated that the interim charter would be adopted permanently should the draft written by his team not be accepted by the public. He later claimed that he actually meant the interim charter would only be used until a new charter is adopted.

CDC spokesman Amorn Wanitwiwat, however, has his own theory. He says if this draft charter is rejected, Thailand will end up with a constitution fashioned by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). He probably means that if this draft charter is rejected, then the NCPO will have to find the reasons why this happened, before amending the interim charter accordingly and then promulgating it permanently.

Prayut‘s remark that he has a plan at hand to ensure a general election is held if this draft is rejected could mean that he has another charter draft ready. However, it could also mean that the interim charter would be amended to pave the way for this draft to be adopted.

There is also another possible alternative; the interim charter will be amended to pave the way for a general election before the Meechai draft is brushed up and promulgated as an official constitution.

Under these two scenarios, there should be no need for a referendum.

The interim charter stipulates that the draft charter must get votes from more than half of the eligible voters.

Prayut said he has instructed the legal department to see if the government should amend the interim charter so it stipulates the draft must get more than half of the votes actually cast. If this point is amended, the constitution will have a better chance of being accepted, as fewer votes would be required for it to be passed.

Besides, it is not yet necessary for Prayut and the NCPO to reveal their plans should the draft be rejected, because the referendum is scheduled for the end of July. In fact, political observers say revealing their plans now would put the NCPO and Prayut‘s government at a political disadvantage.

Divestment of Big C stake to shake up retail industry

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Big C Supercenter's major hypermarket on Ratchadamri Road in Bangkok

Big C Supercenter’s major hypermarket on Ratchadamri Road in Bangkok

ANOTHER major change in Thailand’s retail industry is shaping up, as French retailer Casino Group confirmed the news that it would sell its stake in Big C Supercenter.

Big C was at the centre of the previous shake-up when it bought the Thai arm of Carrefour, another French retailer, in 2011. Carrefour Thailand’s network of 42 stores helped make Big C the No 2 player in the hypermarket segment, second only to Tesco Lotus.

This time, Big C is also at the centre, as the target of big names like the Chirathivat family, Charoen Pokphand Group and Berli Jucker – a business unit owned majority by the Sirivadhanabhakdi family.

The Chirathivat family seems to be the most likely suitor. Big C was established as a joint venture of that family and Casino Group. But the family sold its stake in Big C to Casino Group after the 1997 financial crisis.

The family’s operations in the retail industry would be complete with the inclusion of the hypermarket format.

Another suitor is CP Group. Sitting on piles of cash and rich in experience in retail business, it is the founder of Ek-Chai Distribution System, which operates Tesco Lotus. Also owning Siam Makro, its control in the market would be strengthened.

However, CP Group’s bid to buy back shares in Ek-Chai Distribution from embattled UK retailer Tesco has reportedly been rejected. Tesco last year sold the assets in South Korea for 4 billion pounds (Bt208 billion). In September, it assured shareholders that it would not sell other overseas assets, including in Thailand. In October, it instead sold 14 land plots for 250 million pounds.

Berli Jucker has recently expanded into the retail industry. After acquiring the retail chain Family Mart (renamed B’s Mart) in Vietnam in mid-2014, it acquired Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam from its German owners. It is not beyond imagination that it would want to make its presence felt in the Thai retailing industry.

Among the three, whoever turns out to be the winner of this race may need to pay would surely need not to concern with financial matters.

Yesterday, Big C’s share price ended at Bt226, gaining Bt28.50 or 14.43 per cent from the previous closing. If the transaction is executed at that price, the buyer will need to pay at least Bt109 billion for the 483.45 million shares or a 58.6-per-cent stake currently owned by Casino.

The price is about 23 times its prospective earnings. More than 1 million shares were traded yesterday, the highest in recent months when the number of shares changing hands on a daily basis ranged widely from below 20,000 to more than 900,000.

On December 15, Casino Group announced a plan to strengthen its balance sheet and enhance its financial flexibility with by deleveraging more than 2 billion euros (Bt79 billion) through real-estate transactions and disposal of non-core assets.

It was confident that the proceeds from the deleveraging plan would reduce its consolidated debt. More than half of the total proceeds of the plan are expected to be generated by the disposal of assets fully owned by Casino. It also announced that in the last 10 years, Casino had always achieved its deleveraging plans.

In a statement dated January 14 concerning the sale of Big C in Thailand, Casino Group said: “In the context of the ongoing process for the sale of its operations in Vietnam, Casino Group has received expressions of interest for its publicly listed subsidiary Big C in Thailand. The group is taking steps towards the sale of this asset, which will be implemented in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.”

Big C is now waiting for the new shareholder, while proceeding with business plans. Among them, it plans to open six hypermarkets this year.

“As Casino is receiving a number of expressions of interest to acquire its shares of Big C Thailand, it clearly demonstrates the great company that Big C is and the strong relationships between customers and Big C itself,” said Warunee Kitjaroenpoonsin, director of corporate affairs at Big C.