Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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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.

Seminar: Stimuli to cut downside risks

Posted by pakin On October - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Hope is private sector will be motivated

The government’s recently announced economic stimulus measures are expected to cut downside risks to Thailand’s growth this year and help to drive next year’s growth to 4.8%, says the Bank of Thailand.

But central bank governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul cautioned the effects of the measures would probably emerge only next year, as the disbursement amount for the rest of this year was small.

He was speaking at a seminar in Bangkok hosted by Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence Center (SCB EIC).

The government on Wednesday approved a 364.5-billion-baht stimulus package including expediting 129 billion baht in disbursements from the fiscal 2015 investment budget, taking leftover funds from the Thai Khem Khaeng project to spend on repair work under the Education and Public Health ministries as well as on irrigation projects, and a cash handout of up to 15,000 baht per rice farming household.

The measures are aimed at boosting growth in the fourth quarter for a full-year figure of 2%.

The package has received a favourable response, as the measures reduce risks associated with the government’s budget disbursement since they ensure public spending is just one of the essential factors driving the economy.

Although the government can theoretically disburse its fiscal budget at 91.7%, the rate is usually lower, so any move to increase the disbursement rate will help to reduce downside risks to the economy, Mr Prasarn said.

“This is a sign of the government’s intention of stimulating the economy, and it’s hoped this will build up private-sector confidence,” he said.

“If the private sector follows suit in terms of spending and investment, this will help to support the positive momentum.”

Private spending and investment typically accounts for a higher proportion than public spending.

The central bank recently slashed its economic growth forecast for next year to 4.8% from 5.5% due to potentially lower-than-expected domestic consumption, private investment and exports.

Public spending is expected to be the main driving force in boosting the economic momentum.

The measures do not distort market forces, while the implementation process will be short term, Mr Prasarn said.

Regarding the decision by the military-appointed State Enterprises Policy Commission to allow the central bank to supervise specialised financial institutions, he said plans were still being prepared, and clearer plans would be discussed with the Finance Ministry.

Sutapa Amornvivat, an executive vice-president of SCB and chief economist at the SCB EIC, said the economic stimulus measures were expected to support the economy in the short term, as they were not conducive to debt accumulation and did not distort market forces.

A “multiplier effect” is expected to occur to some degree since the measures are aimed at stimulating economic activity at the grass-roots level, she said.

Ms Sutapa has proposed three strategies to for sustainable growth in the country.

They are pushing the country towards greater innovation in the supply chain, exploring new markets and adjusting to match the country’s changing demographics.

Education and labour development are necessary to reach annual economic growth of 5% in the long run, she
said, adding that otherwise annual
growth would average about 3% from 2014-20.

In addition, Ms Sutapa urged local business operators to adjust their strategies to cope with the country’s ageing society.

At the same time, Generation Y consumers, born from 1981-2000 and representing 28% of Thailand’s population, will be a major new market, she added.

Experts pinpoint tourism setbacks

Posted by pakin On September - 17 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Experts with long experience in the tourism industry have outlined two major problems that have been holding back the sector for many years and need to be reformed for long-term competitiveness.

The first problem is that data and statistics provided by official bodies is inaccurate, and the second is that political power over the tourism sector is too centralised.

“These are the biggest problems for the Thai tourism industry and have been hurting the entire sector for decades. As a result, the industry is now facing the risk of collapse and losing its strength,” one senior expert said.

These two big issues were raised in response to the appointment of a new tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

Members of this high-profile group claim 30-50 years of experience in the industry, some in the Tourism Authority of Thailand, as well as major hotel players and representatives of key travel firms and private-sector associations.

According to Apichart Sankary, former president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), certain authorities have forced organisations to provide unrealistic data, especially on international arrival numbers, or often provide only optimistic information to public.

He claimed that some information given out by officials was inaccurate. One mistake is counting one-day cross-border trippers as tourists. Moreover, arrivals are not categorised clearly, such as whether they are for business, leisure, long stays and so on, but are counted as one category, “tourist”.

For instance, the official number of international arrivals between January and August this year was 15 million, down from 17 million in the same period last year, or a 10-per-cent drop. But ATTA’s statistics showed that arrivals during those eight months plunged by 40 per cent year on year.

“Officials are claiming high numbers of tourist just for budgetary reasons,” he said.

One hotelier, who declined to be named, said the tourism industry had been dominated by a single political party for about 12-15 years. He strongly advised the government to reform the travel sector by cleaning up inaccurate statistics and data and providing real information to the public as well as business operators.

ML SuravutThongthaem, senior vice president for development and owner relations for Southeast Asia at Onyx Hospitality Group, urged the government to enhance human-resource development and also consider issuing some regulations to preserve local management in order to strengthen long-term competitiveness.

Crackdowns urged

Crackdowns on illegal hotels, apartments and residences should also be carried out ahead of the opening of the AseanEconomic Community next year.

Furthermore, improvements in infrastructure and connectivity are needed as soon as possible, while tourist security is another issue to consider. “Those who are going invest overseas should have full support from the government,” he added.

Kobkarn on Monday assured her team and the private sector that her ministry would continue working to increase arrivals and tourism revenue. She also will promote a transparent working system while reducing duplication of tasks in the ministry’s departments.

The new minister plans to promote secondary tourist cities to help small and medium-sized businesses, promote tourism through social media and online channels, and make immigration procedures less time-consuming.