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K-pop singer’s death sparks suicide alert

Posted by pakin On December - 20 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The apparent suicide on Monday of 27-year-old Korean singer Kim Jong-hyun, the lead vocalist for the hugely popular K-pop band Shinee, has prompted fears at the Department of Mental Health that young Thai fans might copy the star and try to kill themselves.

The department released a statement Tuesday warning parents to monitor their children’s behaviour to see if there were any changes after they learnt about the superstar’s death, adding that copycat suicides usually happen to people who already have thoughts of self-harm.

Dr Boonruang Triruangworawat, the department’s chief, said suicide is the cause of death of more than 800,000 people a year in Thailand and that number is expected to rise to 1.5 million by the year 2020; meanwhile, the number of people who attempt suicide is 20 times higher.

Warning signs include crying a lot, quietness and talking about suicide, he said.

“Committing suicide is a thing we can prevent and symptoms of depression should be treated. It is very important to talk with family, friends and psychologists when you feel like this,” he said.

According to the department, the number of suicides among Thai people last year was 6.35 per 100,000 people, falling from 6.47:100,000 in 2015. The 35-39 age group has the highest suicide rate.

Many Thai fans have been saddened by the passing of Kim, better known as just Jonghyun, which South Korean police said was a suicide. Some fans said they were still too shaken to talk about what happened.

Ekapol Wong, a representative of the band’s fan group in Thailand, said he was still shocked and saddened by the news.

He added that it was only when he read an official statement released by Jonghyun’s record company about the death that he realised the news was actually true.

“I still had a glimmer of hope he might still be alive.”

The fan group might organise a making-merit session as a tribute to Jonghyun, he said.

The group’s Shinee-Thailand Facebook page has 179,000 Likes and 30,000 followers on Twitter.

Another Thai fan who asked not to be named said fans loved the singer so much because he was really devoted to them.

“He [Jonghyun] didn’t make us feel like he was an ‘idol’. He made us feel like he was our friend, a younger brother, or an approachable big brother. He made us feel we were appreciated,” she said.

“Multiple” people were killed early Monday when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state near the city of Tacoma, sending cars flying off a bridge and onto a busy interstate, officials said.

It derailed during the morning rush hour at about 7:40 am (1540 GMT), about halfway between Tacoma and Olympia, the capital of Washington state.

“There’s multiple fatalities,” said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Troyer put no number on the fatalities, but local media said at least three people were killed. None of the people in vehicles travelling on the highway below the train were killed, according to Troyer.

Local news outlets reported that dozens of people were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

“When we got to the scene, it was obvious there were fatalities and injuries, and some people were able to get off the train,” Troyer said.

“No fatalities on the roadway. As you can see by the large response, we have taken them out and people that were able to walk are under the tents being cared for by multiple groups,” he said.

Photographs posted online from the scene showed multiple cars having derailed from the train. At least two dropped onto the roadway below, a busy highway that connects Olympia to the busy Seattle metro area just to the north.

The accident snarled morning rush hour traffic and officials warned the highway, Interstate 5, would be blocked in that area for a long period of time.

“We had just passed the city of DuPont and it seemed like we were going around a curve,” passenger Chris Karnes told local CBS News affiliate KIRO-TV.

“All of a sudden, we felt this rocking and creaking noise, and it felt like we were heading down a hill,” said Karnes, adding that several cars had gone off the tracks and passengers kicked out the windows to escape.

“The next thing we know, we’re being slammed into the front of our seats, windows are breaking, we stop, and there’s water gushing out of the train. People were screaming.”

Karnes said the tracks were supposed to have been upgraded to accommodate higher speeds.

“I’m not sure what happened,” he said.


PM urged to suspend Prawit under Article 44

Posted by pakin On December - 19 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS


PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha has been urged to exercise his absolute powers to suspend Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan from duty as the deputy premier remains mired in controversy.

“We call on Prayut to use Article 44 to temporarily suspend Prawit from his posts as deputy premier and defence minister without pay until the investigation conclusion,” Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Thai Constitution Protection Association, said in a statement issued yesterday, referring to the absolute powers granted to the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

In the statement, Srisuwan said Prawit was facing an investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) regarding whether he had intended to conceal his assets.

Early this month, Prawit landed in hot water after being photographed wearing a flamboyant Richard Mille wristwatch and diamond ring that he had not declared in his assets list to the NACC when taking office in 2014.

Social media users later piled on the pressure by posting photos of Prawit wearing seven other luxury watches while attending recent events.

In his four assets declarations during his on-and-off membership in governments since 2008, Prawit has never declared a single asset worth more than Bt200,000 to the NACC. His latest declaration in 2014 valued his total assets at Bt87 million.

The investigation has also raised questions about the general’s “unusual wealth” regarding his total assets and the expensive watches. Pictures have shown him wearing what look like two Richard Mille watches that are estimated to cost between Bt4 million and Bt10 million.

Srisuwan added that the deputy premier was also facing an online campaign pressuring him to step down over offhand comments he made about the death of cadet Phakhapong “Meay” Tanyakan, who died under suspicious circumstances at a military academy in October. Prawit’s remarks that he had also been previously disciplined harshly but had not died, seeming to blame Phakhapong’s poor health for his death, grabbed national headlines.

Srisuwan cited two previous suspension orders issued by Prayut, asking the premier to treat controversial incidents in a fair manner.

The NCPO chief invoked Article 44 to suspend then-Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who was under investigation over alleged irregularities during his tenure. Prayut also suspended Premsak Piayura, former mayor of Ban Phai Municipality in Khon Kaen, over accusations of misconduct in a case in which a reporter who exposed Premsak’s alleged engagement to a schoolgirl was stripped of his clothes as a form of public embarrassment.

“I hope Prayut will not use a double standard or favour his close associates. [Prawit’s suspension] is necessary to get rid of a bad apple to save the whole bushel, or the whole organisation. It would help to maintain the junta’s good image concerning fighting corruption,” Srisuwan said.

Meanwhile, Prawit smiled yesterday before telling the media briefly that he felt tired amid the mounting pressure on him to resign.

For the past two weeks, the embattled deputy premier has remained silent on how he will explain to the NACC his possession of the items, only saying early on in the affair that he would submit a letter of explanation to the agency.

However, local media have cited an aide to the deputy premier as saying that the watch had belonged to one of Prawit’s close friends who died earlier this year. The aide said the pair had known each other for more than 60 years since their elementary school days.

The unidentified deceased friend, who was described as a businessman and watch lover, lent watches to Prawit, some of which were not returned, the aide reportedly said.


PromptPay to spur cut in trading fee

Posted by pakin On December - 19 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The popularity of the PromptPay service will lead e-payment gateways to reduce their fees and launch new services, says a local e-payment gateway pioneer.

“Banks are making an aggressive approach on payment gateways as more merchants use PromptPay because of free transfer fees and accept quick response (QR) code payment, developments that challenge e-payment gateway operators,” said Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, chief executive of Pay Solutions Co, a local payment gateway provider.

According to Bank of Thailand statistics, the highest volume of payment comes from e-payments, compared with other methods of payment such as cheques, ATMs, counter service, internet and mobile.

As of Nov 30, 2017, e-payment volume reached 330 million transactions, up from 302 million transactions in January 2017.

Moreover, intense competition is coming from new players such as BluePay and AirPay.

E-payment provider Paysbuy was a dominant player until its acquisition by Omise in July 2017. To cash in on the thousands of merchants connected to Paysbuy’s payment gateway, Omise has waived the transaction fees for the first 20,000 baht the merchants spend during the first six months.

Pay Solutions is also eyeing a share of Paysbuy traders.

“We hope to attract 10-20% of Paysbuy’s merchants to connect with Pay Solutions,” Mr Pawoot said.

Pay Solutions has developed its gateway to support Alipay by connecting with the authorised partner of Alipay in Thailand, which allows local merchants using its gateway to accept Alipay payment. This is particularly useful for Chinese tourists who need to book accommodation or make purchases in Thailand.

The intense competition has also driven down the payment gateway fee to 3.5-3.6% from more than 4.7%.

Mr Pawoot said the company will also enable its system to accept QR code payment to further help its merchants.

The growth of e-payment mainly came from online-based services including food ordering, booking or reservation and online shopping.

“Our uniqueness is that we accept every payment method, including instalments, and integrate with social media pages for social commerce,” he said.

Piyachart Ratanaprasartporn, chief executive of 2C2P Pte, a Southeast Asia payment service provider, said PromptPay and QR code payment will be important tools to drive e-payment in Thailand. They provide a fast and easy user experience for buyers and low charges for merchants, benefits that are bound to attract more people to adopt the schemes.

Moreover, smartphone players like Samsung and Apple also promote mobile payment.

E-payment is now pretty much borderless, he said, and a successful payment provider is one that provides many payment choices to merchants to expand their coverage, not just locally but across Southeast Asia.

“Online merchants will be consolidated and acquired by big corporations and expand regionally or globally, so payment needs to be cross-border too,” said Mr Piyachart.