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Celebrate the glory of Ayutthaya

Posted by pakin On December - 13 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS


Experience the glory of ancient Ayutthaya in this 10-day fair

The Glorious of Ayutthaya Fair 2017 is being organized from 15 to 24 December to celebrate the historical significance of the ancient Thai capital since the Ayutthaya Historical Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

This year, local and international tourists are encouraged to help preserve Thai culture by wearing traditional Thai outfits to join the event, which begins with a grand opening procession on 15 December, from 15.00 hrs.

Highlights of the 10-day event include a light-and-sound presentation at Wat Maha That that tells the story of the great kings and queens as well as the heroes and heroines of the former Siam. Scheduled every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there is one show on 15 December at 18.00 hrs. and two shows every evening on 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24 December at 18.00 and 20.00 hrs. The ticket price is 500 Baht with audio translation and 200 Baht for a regular seat.

To add to the memorable experience, there will be a True cinematic movie series Si Suriyothai and stage performances.

On the fun side, the event will also feature a ‘retro’ Ayutthaya-era market fair, a ‘noodle and prawn street’ selling dishes that contain noodles and prawns, a pedestrian shopping street, a cultural plaza displaying folk performances found in Ayutthaya, a motor show fair, and a Thai Red Cross fair.  Several beauty pageants, talent competitions, singing contests and other challenges will add to the colour of the fair.

For more information, contact: TAT Ayutthaya office, Tel: +66 (0) 3524 6076-7


EU suspends support for Cambodian election

Posted by pakin On December - 13 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

PHNOM PENH: The European Union announced on Tuesday that it is suspending funding for Cambodia’s general election next year over the forced dissolution of the country’s main opposition party.

“In view of the decision by the Cambodian Supreme Court on 16 November to order the dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, the European Commission has decided to suspend its assistance to the National Election Committee,” said a press statement issued by the EU delegation to Cambodia.

“An electoral process from which the main opposition party has been arbitrarily excluded cannot be seen as legitimate,” the statement said.

The decision to dissolve the CNRP, and the subsequent reallocation of its seats in the National Assembly to other parties, denies the choice of those who voted for the party, it added.

In the last general election in 2013, the CNRP won 55 seats in the 123-seat National Assembly, against 68 seats captured by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. The party was expected to do well in next year’s election.

Critics say the court’s verdict is only part of a wide-ranging crackdown on opposition politicians and independent media by Prime Minister Hun Sen for fear of losing the next election.

The EU’s move follows a similar suspension by the United States, which last month announced the termination of its support for the NEC.

NEC spokesman Sam Sorida told Kyodo News that the EU’s move will not affect the holding of the 2018 general election as the government has sufficient funds.

However, he acknowledged that any assistance would help reduce spending by the Cambodian government.


BTS on the hunt for more hotel chains in Europe

Posted by pakin On December - 13 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

SET-listed BTS Group Holdings Plc (BTS) is mulling the acquisition of another hotel chain in Europe, worth up to 10 billion baht, to reinforce its global presence, says chairman Keeree Kanjanapas.

The company aims for average annual net profit growth of 25% over the next five years.

“There’s the possibility we might acquire more hotel chains in Europe to expand our hotel business and build a strong global presence,” he said.

BTS Group is in talks with two hotel chains in Europe, said Mr Keeree. The first chain operates wellness resorts with locations across central Europe. The second chain runs hotels in inner city locations with no more than 200 rooms each, with properties in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Spain.

The deal is expected to be worth up to 10 billion baht, he said, but would not reveal the targeted hotel chains.

BTS Group’s latest move underscores fresh efforts to penetrate deeper into the hotel market abroad.

The diversified holding company, spanning from elevated trains to property development and food businesses, earlier this year successfully dipped its toes in the overseas hotel market by taking over the entire stake in Vienna International Hotel Management AG (Vienna House) through its 35.6%-owned affiliate, U City Plc. That deal, worth 12.3 billion baht, is further part of plans to ramp up recurring revenue.

Vienna House has 16 upscale leisure and business hotels and eight hotels operating in several European countries, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Austria, Belarus, France, Russia and Slovakia.

Mr Keeree said that at its next shareholder meeting, set to be held on Jan 4, BTS Group will ask for permission to restructure by transferring all its property businesses to be held under U City.

These businesses include a 50% joint venture, Absolute Hotel Services, which operates hotels under the U Hotels & Resorts, Eastin Hotels, Eastin Residences and Eastin Easy brands; and more than 20 condominium projects developed via joint ventures between BTS Group and another SET-listed property developer, Sansiri Plc.

He said that the number of undeveloped land plots currently owned by BTS Group’s subsidiary, Unicorn Enterprise Co Ltd, will also be transferred to U City.

“If the restructuring plan is approved, U City will no longer be a small real estate company, with its business spanning the globe. We expect it will soon be able to start paying dividends to shareholders,” said Mr Keeree.

Property is one of the four main businesses of BTS Group, with others including infrastructure through Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Co Ltd and its media business through VGI Global Media Plc.

He said BTS Group is also hoping to invest in the 16.4-kilometre western Orange Line, running from Thailand Cultural Centre to Taling Chan, worth 109 billion baht, on top of several double-track railway projects.

BTS shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 8.25 baht, down five satang, in trade worth 138 million baht.

PM rips media over Prawit bling furore

Posted by pakin On December - 13 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended his deputy, Prawit Wongsuwon, claiming the media stirred up a fuss over the deputy premier’s luxury accessories to cause a rift between them.

Gen Prawit, who also serves as the minister of defence, has been in the spotlight after a picture of him wearing a diamond ring and a luxury watch spread across news media and the internet last week. This caught the attention of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) after suspicions emerged that he had failed to report them in his declaration of assets and liabilities as required by the anti-graft agency.

Gen Prawit, however, yesterday failed to submit a letter clarifying the acquisition of the watch and ring to the NACC as it had been reported he was requested to do.

Last week, Gen Prawit was asked to provide a written explanation to the NACC, but his letter has so far remained with the Office of the Minister of Defence due to the three-day holiday weekend.

The letter was expected to be submitted to the NACC yesterday.

At Government House, Gen Prayut said yesterday Gen Prawit did not need his moral support and could handle the issue himself.

“I don’t have to deliver my moral support to him because he is a soldier and a grown man so he can take care of himself. We are not children,” he said.

The premier asked the media to refrain from attacking Gen Prawit, saying the matter must be dealt in compliance with the judicial process.

“Many people target him, and want him to be divided from me. You [the media] all know this very well,” he said.

“If nobody is beside me, I will tell you, I will be fiercer. I will fully exercise my power,” he said.

Speaking about feedback from political parties which reaffirmed their trust in his transparency but not his ministers, Prime Minister Prayut extended his thanks, saying he has always instructed his subordinates and relevant authorities to work with transparency.

The prime minister said all decisions about previous projects have been made by the cabinet, not the deputy minister or any individuals.

Each project must be contemplated by the Office of the Council of State and the cabinet before approval.

He also stressed that people can report any individuals or agencies found to be abusing their position in return for financial benefits.

As for corruption at the provincial level, Gen Prayut said probes will be launched against officials as long as the accusers have solid evidence.

Meanwhile, Gen Prawit said yesterday he has not submitted his explanation about his costly watch and diamond ring, said to be worth US$500,000, to the NACC yet.

He also said he had no knowledge of an unconfirmed report which suggested he may claim he inherited the diamond ring from his mother and the luxury watch belonged to a businessman friend who had lent it to him to wear.

Veera Somkwamkid, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Network, also wrote on Facebook yesterday that he had evidence that Gen Prawit had many luxury watches and rings which were not included in the asset declaration submitted to the NACC.

The NACC then should do its job honestly and investigate how Gen Prawit came into possession of such expensive items, whether they were obtained after the coup in 2014 or could be traced back to his role in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government in 2009, he stated.

Mr Abhisit, Democrat Party leader, said he would wait for the result of the investigation. He asked the NACC to do a thorough job, warning its members would be held accountable should it fail to do so.