New MRT Orange Line bidding process rife with corruption, claim BTS bosses

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New MRT Orange Line bidding process rife with corruption, claim BTS bosses

New MRT Orange Line bidding process rife with corruption, claim BTS bosses

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2022

The bidding process for Bangkok’s MRT Orange Line is rife with corruption, a top BTSC executive claimed.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, chief of the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC), was speaking at an anti-corruption seminar organised on Friday by the Democrat Party. The meeting, held to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, was held at Chong Nonsi BTS station.

Surapong said BTSC had participated in many government auctions and always won them transparently.

When bidding for the western section of the MRT Orange Line opened in May 2020, 10 companies including BTS bought the auction envelopes, he said.

However, he said, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) changed the terms of reference just before BTS submitted its bid.

Surapong said this was strange and untransparent, so BTS took its complaint to court, which ruled that the previous criteria be reinstated.

Then on November 9, 2020, two companies including BTS bid for the Orange Line, but MRTA scrapped the bids on February 3, 2021.

BTS again took the case to the Administrative Court, but its plea for an injunction was rejected and MRTA was allowed to go ahead with the bidding.

Surapong said he was surprised his company was not allowed to join the bidding under the new criteria even though BTSC has been part of the industry for years.

Meanwhile, Keeree Kanjanapas, chair of BTS Group Holdings, alleged that there has been a lot of graft over the past two to three years.

He said his company has been bidding transparently for infrastructure projects for more than 30 years now, including the BTS Green Line, MRT Pink Line and expressways.

“Since today is Anti-Corruption Day, I would call on those who are involved to think of their country, because they are damaging it for their personal benefit. If the country is not stable, nobody can survive,” Keeree said.

He also said the government should be able to justify its reasons for pushing through a project that is rife with corruption as it is “committing a sin against the country”.

“What I want to see today is justice. I admit that I have won and lost bids, but every bid was won lawfully. BTS has people’s trust and has never damaged the country,” he said.

“It will be a shame if this project worth more than 100 billion baht is approved because it will be the worst corruption case in Thailand and I will not give up easily if things are incorrect.”

Earlier last week, Surapong spoke about a rumour that the Cabinet will push through the MRT Orange Line bidding process. He said he wasn’t sure about this rumour because three related cases are still being considered by the Administrative Court.

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Police probe non-profit in Chiang Mai as crackdown on Chinese triads expands

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Police probe non-profit in Chiang Mai as crackdown on Chinese triads expands

Police probe non-profit in Chiang Mai as crackdown on Chinese triads expands

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2022

Police say they are investigating a foundation in Chiang Mai after receiving information that it may have been used by Chinese criminals to extend visas in Thailand, as part of an ongoing crackdown on triads that has extended to 18 provinces since it was launched in Bangkok a month ago.

Deputy National Police Chief Gen Surachet Hakparn said the non-profit was under investigation after searching a house on Friday in the northern province’s San Pa Tong district belonging to Chinese national Ni Yibo. Surachet said Ni had been acting as a visa-extension agent for other Chinese nationals.

Ni allegedly applied for a visa extension through the Creating Balance Foundation, which is chaired by Thai national Korakrit Jittham, Surachet said.

Police probe non-profit in Chiang Mai as crackdown on Chinese triads expands

Neither the foundation nor Korakrit could be contacted. The foundation is one of at least two in Chiang Mai using the name.

Police also said that Korakrit had falsely registered himself as the father of a girl – whose biological parents are Ni and another Chinese national named Gao Yang – so that the girl could obtain Thai citizenship.

Surachet said the investigation into the foundation should conclude in two weeks. Police will investigate its activities and the sources of its funding, he said.

Police probe non-profit in Chiang Mai as crackdown on Chinese triads expands

Over the past week, police have been investigating businesses and foundations suspected of helping Chinese nationals illegally stay in Thailand as their probe into Chinese triads expanded to 53 locations in 18 provinces, including Bangkok, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima and Udon Thani.

The investigation began last month after former massage parlour tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit gave police information on Chinese triads in Thailand. Chuwit’s information quickly led to an arrest warrant for alleged narcotics kingpin Chainat “Tuhao” Kornchayanan. Chainat is the husband of a senior Thai police officer and gained Thai citizenship through the marriage. He surrendered to police on November 23, denying all charges against him.

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Temperatures to fall, flash floods a risk in the South: forecast

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Temperatures to fall, flash floods a risk in the South: forecast

Temperatures to fall, flash floods a risk in the South: forecast

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2022

Temperatures will fall next week by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius in the top half of the country and by 2 to 4 degrees Celsius elsewhere, according to a forecast by the Thai Meteorological Department.

The drop in temperatures will occur as a strong high-pressure system from China extends into upper Thailand, the department said. A low-pressure cell over eastern Malaysia will move through the lower Andaman Sea from Sunday to Monday, while the moderate northeast monsoon will continue in the Gulf of Thailand.

More rain is also expected with heavy rains in some areas. Waves in the lower Gulf of Thailand will rise to 2 metres. They will rise further during the thundershowers expected on Thursday.

The department warned that people living along waterways in the South should prepare for the possibility of flooding, while those living on or near foothills in the region should prepare for flash floods. Thunderstorms could pose a threat to vessels in the lower Gulf of Thailand, the department said.


The weather forecast for December 11-15 by region is:

Bangkok and surrounding areas

Cool weather and strong winds, with temperatures ranging from lows of 18-22 degrees to highs of 29-33 degrees.

North

Cool with strong winds, with temperatures ranging from lows of 14-21 degrees to highs of 29-32 degrees. Temperatures could drop to 5-14 degrees at high altitudes.

Northeast

Cool to cold with strong winds, with temperatures ranging from lows of 16-22 degrees to highs of 29-33 degrees. Temperatures could drop to 13-15 degrees at high altitudes.

Central

Cool with strong winds, with temperatures ranging from lows of 16-21 degrees to highs of 29-32 degrees.

East

Cool mornings with strong winds, with temperatures ranging from lows of 16-21 degrees to highs of 29-32 degrees.Waves will be about one metre high and 1-2 metres offshore.

South (east coast)

Cool mornings with scattered thundershowers and isolated heavy rain. Temperatures will range from lows of 20-25 to highs of 26-33 degrees. Waves will be about two metres high, rising to over two metres during thundershowers.

South (west coast)

Isolated to scattered thundershowers, with temperatures ranging from lows of 22-25 degrees to highs of 26-33 degrees. Waves will be one to two metres high, rising to over two metres during thundershowers.

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Thai film industry ‘held back by lack of funding and audience support’

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Thai film industry ‘held back by lack of funding and audience support’

Thai film industry ‘held back by lack of funding and audience support’

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

Nongluck Ajanapanya

Thailand’s film industry needs more funding and practical support to become a player in the global market, where it could increase the country’s soft power, panelists told a seminar at the World Film Festival of Bangkok 2022, TK Park, Central World on Thursday.

The most difficult thing about being a filmmaker in Thailand is the complete lack of support, director Chantana Tiprachartm said at the seminar focused on Thailand’s soft power in the global movie market.

She added that many of her peers had to fund their own films because there were no other options, pointing to a film released by director Thapanee Loosuwan this year.

Chantana TiprachartmChantana Tiprachartm

“For example, look at ‘Blue Again’ by Thapanee Loosuwan. It took eight years to complete,” Chantana said, adding that the film was selected to open the Busan Film Festival this year.

“The difficulty of making just one film in Thailand is enough to kill off the talent. Thailand’s film industry cannot flourish because it is too difficult to make films here,” added Chantana, director of the film “Nha Harn” and a member of the Thai Film Directors Association.

She said it was crucial to help filmmakers, particularly new ones, complete their films.

Pramote Boonnumsuk, a member of the Culture Ministry’s Thai Media Fund (TMF), Pornchai Wongsri-udomporn, a member of the National Federation of Thai Film Associations, and Chantana Tiprachartm, director of Nha Harn Film and a member of the Thai Film Directors Association joined the discussion.

Pramote BoonnumsukPramote Boonnumsuk

Pramote Boonnumsuk, a member of the Culture Ministry’s Thai Media Fund (TMF), admitted that the fund has limited money for films. However, he said TMF was good at finding partners in Thailand and abroad to help Thai directors to showcase their films.

He advised young Thai directors to start by making films for streaming or other online platforms. TMF will launch more support services for filmmakers in the coming years, he added.


Pornchai Wongsri-udompornPornchai Wongsri-udomporn

Pornchai of the National Federation of Thai Film Associations said Thai people are both the film industry’s strongest and weakest links.

Thailand has enough talented people to create a thriving film industry, but Thai films lack sufficient support from Thai audiences, Pornchai said.

He said he agreed with Chantana that filmmakers need more funding and that the funding has to arrive fast.

“The film industry also needs great marketing and distribution plans. Films are art, but they are also a kind of investment that can generate great returns.”

A good business model for developing the industry will allow people in the industry to feel at ease and continue making great films, he said, adding that audience support must increase.

The seminar was held as government officials consider ways to increase Thailand’s soft power globally to attract more tourists and investment into the country.

Nongluck Ajanapanya

EEC eyes THB2.2 trillion in investments after sweeping up 1.9 trillion in first 5 years

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EEC eyes THB2.2 trillion in investments after sweeping up 1.9 trillion in first 5 years

EEC eyes THB2.2 trillion in investments after sweeping up 1.9 trillion in first 5 years

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) has drawn 1.92 trillion baht in foreign investments in its first five years of implementation.

In addition to this, Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said EEC aims to attract another 2.2 trillion baht in the next five years.
He added that investments between 2018 and 2022 had already exceeded the original target of 1.7 trillion baht.
Among the key investors are Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amazon Falls, which built the world’s first Columbia Pictures Aquaverse in Chonburi.
This recreational park is expected to attract as many as 20 million visitors per year and generate revenue of 10 billion baht for the local economy, Supattanapong said.

He added that the EEC targets 2.2 trillion baht in foreign investments in the second five-year stage from 2023 to 2027, with an average annual investment of between 400 billion and 500 billion baht.
In line with this target, the eastern seaboard provinces – Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong – can be expected to expand by up to 9% per year, thus boosting the national economy by 5% annually from 2024.
Supattanapong, who also doubles as deputy prime minister, chairs a subcommittee tasked with managing EEC’s development.
He said on Friday that the EEC has also attracted huge investments from Chinese electric vehicle makers, including 22 billion baht from Great Wall Motor and 17.9 billion baht from BYD. The US-based EVlomo has also invested 33 billion baht in the largest battery factory in Southeast Asia.
Horizon Plus, a joint venture between Thailand’s petroleum giant PTT and Taiwan multinational Foxconn, have spent more than 36 billion baht on an EV manufacturing plant.
Meanwhile, as much as 300 billion baht is expected to come from Saudi Arabia after bilateral relations were restored earlier this year. Supattanapong said he expects more investments from Germany, the United States and Japan.
The investments are expected to create several thousands of new jobs in the EEC provinces.

T-pop in the future? Thailand takes lessons from South Korea’s soft power success

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T-pop in the future? Thailand takes lessons from South Korea's soft power success

T-pop in the future? Thailand takes lessons from South Korea’s soft power success

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

South Korea’s global “charm offensive” and growing cultural might may offer Thailand some lessons in boosting its “soft power”.

Culture Minister Ittiphol Khunpluem said Thailand needs to learn from the success South Korea has gained from its K-pop, the Korean “look”, TV series and food to name a few.
He was speaking at the “2022 Korea-Thailand Cooperation for Strengthening Soft Power” seminar hosted by the South Korean Embassy and Korean Culture Centre in Bangkok on Thursday.
South Korean Ambassador to Thailand Moon Seung-hyun said: “Soft power is a promising field of cooperation between Korea and Thailand that will further strengthen the relationship of both countries.”
Itthiphol, who was attending the seminar virtually, said: “This seminar offers a good opportunity for Thailand to learn about the development of Korean soft power, which gained great success globally.”

T-pop in the future? Thailand takes lessons from South Korea's soft power success

South Korea has made great headway in building its soft power, from winning the 2020 Oscars with its film “Parasite” to K-pop groups like BTS and Blackpink shaking up international music billboards.
Back in April, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha suggested to the South Korean envoy that both countries should collaborate on strengthening their soft power.
Also speaking at the seminar on Thursday were Korean Cultural Centre director Cho Jae-il and Culture Ministry adviser Wansiri Morakul, both of whom spoke about their respective country’s soft power policies.
Meanwhile, Prof Kamon Busabon from Chulalongkorn University’s Korean Language Department provided an analysis of what exactly made South Korea’s soft power so successful.
Other speakers at the event included Shin Yeon-ah, leader of the K-pop group “Big Mama” and dean of Howon University’s K-Pop Department; Prof Kevin Yun from Howon University; Dr Nalin Petchin from Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Music; Na Hong-jin and Banjong Pisanthanakun who directed the Thai-Korean film “Rang Zong” (The Medium); K-pop band Blackpink’s traditional “hanbok” designer Danha Kim; and Chadaporn Chanpan from Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep’s Faculty of Textile Industry.
 

T-pop in the future? Thailand takes lessons from South Korea's soft power success
T-pop in the future? Thailand takes lessons from South Korea's soft power success

Sports Authority told to repay THB600m or scrap True World Cup deal

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Sports Authority told to repay THB600m or scrap True World Cup deal

Sports Authority told to repay THB600m or scrap True World Cup deal

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Friday handed the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) an ultimatum: repay the money provided for World Cup broadcast rights or cancel its broadcast agreement with True Corporation.

The ultimatum came after the NBTC voted unanimously on Thursday to demand repayment of 600 million baht it handed the SAT to buy the broadcast rights from Fifa.

Read more

On Friday, NBTC board chairman Sorana Boonbaichaipreug said the SAT had 15 days to return the money, with interest of 5% in case of late payment.

Sorana said the SAT had violated the “must-have” rule that all people should have free access to World Cup broadcasts, as other internet TV operators could not screen matches.

Sorana said the NBTC had handed over the 600 million baht after the SAT pleaded that it did not have budget, but the SAT had then breached the “must have” rule by handing True Corp exclusive rights to internet broadcasts.

He said he didn’t know how the SAT would find the money for repayment if it genuinely had no budget left.

The NBTC would be forced to sue the SAT in the Administrative Court if it did not repay within 15 days or revoke its deal with True Corp, he added.

He explained that the NBTC, as regulator, could not directly interfere in the deal between SAT and True, which had violated the “must have” rule.

The NBTC would also consult the Office of the Attorney General, Sorana said.

He also confirmed that the “must have” rule would be reviewed after the World Cup to prevent this kind of problem.

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Thailand’s gun-control law: Can shooting in self-defence be justified?

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Thailand's gun-control law: Can shooting in self-defence be justified?

Thailand’s gun-control law: Can shooting in self-defence be justified?

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

On Thursday afternoon, four masked men on two motorbikes rode up and shot at the window of a gold shop in Tak in a burglary attempt.

The robbery was foiled by the gold shop owner, who shot point-blank at the robbers and severely injured one of them. The injured man and another suspect were arrested, though the other two managed to get away.
 

Read more

Footage of the gold shop owner Pisit (last name withheld) shooting at close range has sparked a lot of criticism.

The 49-year-old is reportedly a shooting enthusiast and has won several trophies.

In a Facebook on Friday, well-known lawyer Kerdpol Kaewkerd said he believes Pisit will get away with little punishment because he can justify the shooting as self-defence.

Thailand's gun-control law: Can shooting in self-defence be justified?

Is shooting justified?

However, this shooting has sparked a conversation on whether shooting for “self-defence” is acceptable.

Another example of a self-defence shooting was in 2018 when engineer Suthep Poshsomboon shot dead a 17-year-old schoolboy in Chonburi over road rage.

Suthep’s car had been surrounded by a group of angry youths over a right-of-way argument, and when he was hit by one of them, he retaliated by pulling out his gun and shooting.

The court of the first instance and the Appeals Court handed down a 10-year jail term, ruling that Suthep had got into an avoidable conflict by choice.

However, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling and reduced the sentence to three years and four months with parole because the shooting was seen as self-defence.

Read more

Right to gun possession

According to Article 8 of Thailand’s 1947 Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation of Firearms Act, nobody can own ammunition that does not match the licence granted to the weapon owner.

Violators can face up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of 20,000 baht.

The Act also says: “No person shall carry a firearm into a town, village or public way without a licence to carry firearms except in a case where carrying of firearms is required in case of necessity or emergency as appropriate under the circumstances.”

Violation of this chapter can result in up to five years in prison and/or up to 10,000 baht in fines.

“No person shall openly carry a firearm or carry a firearm in any gathering place provided for worshipping, merrymaking, entertainment or any other purposes.”

Violators of this point who do not have the licence to carry arms in public can face a jail term of six months to five years and/or a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 baht.

Those who have the licence to carry a firearm but bring it into a place of worship, entertainment etc, stand to face up to a year in prison and/or a fine of 2,000 baht.

Weapon used on Thursday

According to information gathered by The Nation, Pisit was using a Benelli M4 tactical shotgun to protect himself and his store.

Thailand's gun-control law: Can shooting in self-defence be justified?

This semi-automatic shotgun featured large in the Hollywood blockbuster “John Wick: Chapter 2”.

The Benelli M4, released by Italian firearms manufacturer Benelli Armi SpA in 1998, is widely used by the armies of Italy, the US and the United Kingdom.

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Mercedes-Benz joins Thailand’s EV subsidy program

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Mercedes-Benz joins Thailand’s EV subsidy program

Mercedes-Benz joins Thailand’s EV subsidy program

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

Mercedes-Benz will become the 11th vehicle manufacturer to join a government-led program to encourage production of electric vehicles (EVs) in Thailand, Excise Department director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas said on Friday.

The German carmaker’s Thai assembling unit – Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing (Thailand) Co Ltd – will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Excise Department on government incentives for EV producers, Ekniti said.
The incentive program aims to lower the price of EVs so they can better compete against cars and motorcycles with internal combustion engines. Carmakers are entitled to subsidies and cuts on import duties of up to 150,000 baht per EV priced below 2 million baht and 700,000-800,000 baht for each one priced above 2 million.

Vehicle makers are required to sign cooperation agreements with the Excise Department to join the program. The agreements require carmakers to produce as many EVs in Thailand as they import.
Companies that have already signed such agreements include the Thai assemblers of Chinese-made EVs, including MG and GWM, as well as Japanese carmaker Toyota, and Thai EV maker Mine Mobility. Three assemblers of electric motorcycles, including Thai Honda and Deco Green, have also signed agreements.

Recovery in Thailand’s travel, business sectors up energy consumption by 3%

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Recovery in Thailand’s travel, business sectors up energy consumption by 3%

Recovery in Thailand’s travel, business sectors up energy consumption by 3%

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 09, 2022

Economic recovery has pushed Thailand’s energy consumption up by 3% in the first nine months of the year, the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO) said on Friday.

EPPO director Wattanapong Kurowat said the consumption of all types of energy has risen during the period, especially fuel.

“The consumption of jet fuel has risen by 80.1% thanks to the recovery of the tourism and service sectors,” he said.

He added that the consumption of electricity has risen by 4.4%, especially in the business sector now that workers are returning to office.

He said he expects Thailand’s energy consumption to rise by 3.2%, now that all sectors are recovering.

“The consumption of fuel, coal and hydroelectricity this year is expected to rise by 14.9%, 7.1% and 14.7%, respectively,” he said.

He also expects the country’s energy consumption to surge by 2.7% next year with more people travelling and an expansion in investment.

“Consumption of fuel, coal and hydroelectricity can be expected to rise by 4.2%, 1.1% and 4.4%, respectively,” he added.

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