Monday, October 23, 2017
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UPDATE: Paragon bombs ‘homemade’

Posted by pakin On February - 2 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Two improvised time bombs exploded in front of Siam Paragon shopping centre Sunday evening, slightly injuring a man, police said.

Paragon and other retail outlets in the Siam Square/Siam Center area were closed, roads were blocked and shoppers and diners were evacuated from the area.

Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri, a police spokesman, said the bombs were hidden behind a transformer at BMA Express Service, between the Siam BTS station and the luxury mall.

“Two homemade bombs exploded on a walkway between Siam BTS (skytrain) and Siam Paragon mall. They were hidden behind electric controls,” said Pol Lt Gen Prawut.

The two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were set on timers to explode at about 8pm, a peak time for shopping, entertainment and dining out in the Siam Square area. Despite this, Pol Lt Gen Prawut said the bombs “were not intended to kill”.

No motive for the attacks was given. Authorities at first told the media the bombing was the explosion of a power transformer of a Paragon billboard. They dropped that story and admitted the blasts were caused by bombs after several hours of investigation.

Thailand is officially under martial law, but police handled crowd control, and acted as spokesmen for the media. Spokesmen asked the public not to panic, despite the mishandling of the early hours of the investigation.

Army Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesman for both the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and for the army, said the military was involved in the police investigation but provided no details. He said the motive for the bombing was unknown.

Earlier Sunday, an adviser to the NCPO denied reports the military regime was considering a proposal to end martial law. Criticism of martial law peaked again last week after a senior US official, Daniel Russel, said Washington was opposed to the use of martial law.

Pol Lt Gen Prawut claimed the motive of the attack was likely to create panic rather than take lives. He did not provide any details of the IEDs, but denied early reports that the bombs contained nails.

Party’s on in Bangkok for New Year

Posted by pakin On December - 19 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Bangkok is the world’s 10th most popular destination among global travellers looking for a place to celebrate the New Year holiday, says TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai is the top destination of Thais for their New Year celebration.

Destination rankings were based on TripAdvisor searches for the New Year holiday period from Dec 27 to Jan 4.

Jean Ow-yeong, head of media relations at TripAdvisor Asia-Pacific, said Bangkok was the only Asian destination making the top 10 thanks to its attractive costs.

London, New York and Paris were the top three favourite destinations, in that order.

The average room rate for three- and four-star hotels in Bangkok during the New Year period is expected to rise by 18% to 2,499 baht a night.

London will see a 5% rise in the average room rate to 8,441 baht a night, New York 18% to 13,435 baht and Paris 5% to 8,010 baht.

TripAdvisor said Thai travellers favoured local destinations over international ones, with seven Thai locations in their top 10 including Chiang Mai at No.1.

The popularity of Chiang Mai will see the average room rate of three- and four-star hotels in the northern capital surge 61% to 3,001 baht a night.

After Chiang Mai, the next most popular destinations are Hua Hin and Bangkok, where room rates during the New Year period will average 4,999 and 2,449 baht a night, respectively.

TripAdvisor said Hong Kong was the most popular international New Year destination for Thai travellers. But any traveller planning a trip to Hong Kong should be prepared for sticker shock.

The average room rate during the New Year festival will be 17,195 baht a night, a whopping 194% higher than the average rate throughout the rest of 2014.

At home, cooler weather, falling oil prices and the extended New Year holiday period have led to predictions that revenue from domestic tourism will be at least 6.5 billion baht during the five-day weekend, said Anupharp Thirarath, deputy governor for domestic tourism at the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

He predicts 1.7 million domestic trips from Dec 31 to Jan 4. Average hotel occupancy over the long weekend will be 70-80% nationwide, down only slightly from last year’s level.

Falling oil prices are expected to help boost domestic tourism, particularly automobile travel to within a 300-kilometre radius from Bangkok, Mr Anupharp said.

Popular destinations include Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, Hua Hin, Chumphon, Nakhon Sawan and Khao Yai.

Yutthachai Soonthronrattanavate, president of the Association of Domestic Travel, agreed lower oil prices would benefit domestic tourism.

Arrests punctuated Thursday’s widespread opening of the latest chapter in The Hunger Games movie series as police detained three student activists for anti-coup activities outside two Bangkok theatres.

Two students, including one arrested in May for eating a sandwich while reading the book 1984, were detained at the Apex Group’s Scala theatre for giving media interviews. A third was taken into custody outside Major Cineplex Group’s Siam Paragon theatres after flashing The Hunger Games three-finger gesture symbolising rebellion against totalitarian rule.

The protests came after management at Apex on Wednesday night announced the cancellation of Mockingjay Part 1showings starting today because student activists had bought 200 tickets and planned to distribute them free via Facebook.

The League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy invited the public through its Facebook page to join an activity it called Ram Kratua, Roast Popcorn and See Movie at 11.30am at the Scala. The group offered free tickets to the 12.40pm showing, which later was cancelled.

The Scala today was showing Magic in the Moonlight.

Despite the cancellation, student organisers showed up at the theatre anyway and two were arrested and taken to Pathumwan police station. The group’s Facebook page said that they were detained due to giving interview to the media.

One of those detained at Siam Square was Rattapol Suphasopon, a senior at Thammasat University. The other was “Champ,” who was arrested on June 22 after marking the one-month anniversary of the coup with sandwich-eating and reading in front of Siam Paragon.

Undeterred by Apex’s cancellation of Mockingjay, the group moved their activity to nearby Siam Paragon.

There a third student, transgender female Natchacah Kongudom from Bangkok University, was taken into custody after flashing The Hunger Games’ trademark three-finger salute, which anti-coup protestors have adopted as a sign of defiance.

Ms Natchacha said she joined the activity after learning about the arrest of students in Khon Kaen yesterday, which she viewed as depriving them of their right to expression. The five were arrested for flashing The Hunger Games salute and wearing t-shirts with anti-coup slogans at a speech by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Ms Natchaha then tried to enter the cinema, but was intercepted by police. She raised the fingers of her right hand while covering her mouth with her left and was photographed by the media before being whisked away by officers.

The salute has united anti-coup protestors worldwide. Transgender student activist Saran “Aum Neko” Chuichai – residing in France to avoid lese majeste charges – led a small group of people in giving the three-fingered salute and denouncing the coup in front of a Paris cinema on Wednesday local time.

SET-listed shopping project developer Central Pattana Plc (CPN), a property arm of Central Group, is set to double the number of its domestic malls to around 50 by 2024.

The company seeks to open 20 retail projects from 2018-24 that will require an investment of 15 billion baht a year.

About 10 projects will be in Bangkok and the rest upcountry. Four projects will be developed on big plots of 100 rai or more.

“When the Asean Economic Community [AEC] becomes effective by the end of next year, it will create huge opportunities for us to develop new retail projects. Several provinces will benefit from the AEC,” said CPN president and chief executive Preecha Ekkunagul.

CPN has 25 shopping malls with combined space of 5.5 million square metres across the country.

It will develop six retail projects in Bangkok and upcountry from 2015-17 with total investment of 5.3 billion baht.

CentralWestGate in Nonthaburi is a prototype of a super regional mall with an investment of 14 billion baht for 500,000 sq m.

CentralPlaza Rayong requires an investment of 4 billion baht for 200,000 sq m, while CentralFestival East Ville in eastern Bangkok is an outdoor lifestyle mall worth 6 billion baht for 150,000 sq m.

CentralPlaza Nakhon Si Thammarat is a lifestyle shopping complex with investment of 4 billion baht for 120,000 sq m.

CentralPlaza Nakhon Ratchasima is the first lifestyle shopping mall in the Northeast, with an investment of 9.3 billion baht and 250,000 sq m. Central Phuket will be developed at a cost of 12.7 billion baht for 300,000 sq m.

CPN will spend 2.3 billion baht to renovate CentralPlaza Pinklao and 1.2 billion baht to revamp CentralPlaza Bangna.

The company expects its sales will grow by 15% per year from this year’s expected 25 billion baht to reach 50 billion in 2019.

“We will continue our development domestically because we believe the Thai economy is likely to grow enormously in the future. The government’s massive infrastructure projects will also push Thailand toward the centre of Asean,” Mr Preecha said.

CPN plans to open its first shopping complex in Malaysia in the next few years, while projects in Vietnam and Indonesia are in the pipeline.

All projects in Asean will be joint ventures with local partners.

CPN shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 46.75 baht, down 25 satang, in trade worth 206 million baht.