#Thailand – TAO chief and four others held over Big C bombing

Suspected murder of owner of pickup used in Pattani blasts

FIVE MEN, including a Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) chief, have been detained for questioning over their alleged involvement in the broad daylight bomb blasts in Pattani province, Fourth Army Region Commander Lt-General Piyawat Narkwanich said yesterday.

This is the first time that a state official has been identified and detained for alleged involvement in the insurgency in the deep South. Piyawat did not name the TAO chief.

The chief of Pattani’s Nong Chik district was arrested after another suspect implicated him in the alleged murder of a pickup owner and the theft of the vehicle that was used in the attack in the province’s Muang district on Tuesday.

 Evidence found at the scene and footage from the Big C department store’s security camera led to the arrest of the suspects, Piyawat said.

The five suspects allegedly stole the pickup of Yala resident Nuson Kajornkam, which was used in the car-bomb attack at the Big C outlet.

Piyawat said there was a likelihood that Nuson had been killed as one of the five detained suspects had confessed to wiping blood from the pickup.

The body of Nuson was later found in a paddy field in Pattani’s Nong Chik district. His wife earlier said that someone had telephoned Nuson on Monday, saying he wanted to buy items from him in Pattani.

She said her husband left at around 10am on Tuesday for Pattani. Nuson’s vehicle, bearing Yala licence plate Bor Jor 3303, was later packed with explosives and parked at the Big C store where it exploded at about 2.30pm, leaving more than 80 injured, including children.

Investigators have concluded that the pickup was stolen from a mosque in Ban Mai, a village in Nongchik district’s Tambon Kohpoh in Pattani.

Witnesses told police they saw four men surrounding the pickup before the owner was killed and his body was taken away in another pickup. Despite a fresh concrete floor having been laid, bloodstains were found at the spot identified by the witnesses.

Piyawat called for understanding from the public, as tighter security would mean difficulties in commuting.

“Authorities will be checking every vehicle, including ice-cream trucks because the insurgents are trying to adjust their operations, so we have to be one better than them,” he said.

The insurgents’ attack on the Big C department store in Pattani had led to great loss of support among Thai Muslim local residents, Piyawat said. The bomb attack had most affected Thai Muslims who were shopping in the store, including children, he added. About 95 per cent of the population in the area is Thai Muslim.

“The blasts have badly affected not only the Thai Muslim community but also every group of society, particularly women and children. They are just people who went to the store to buy things before going home,” Piyawat said.

Meanwhile, national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said police had been warned about the Big C bombing about an hour before the attack.

Source – TheNation

#Thailand – Pattani bombers targeted back-to-school shoppers.

Police forensics specialists and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad on Wednesday morning inspected the scene outside a Big C department store in Pattani’s Mueang district where a powerful car bomb had exploded the previous day, injuring 61 people.

Investigators believe the culprits parked a pickup truck at the store’s entrance containing two cylinders of cooking gas in its rear cab space. 

The explosion occurred at about 2.30pm on Tuesday when the store was crowded with parents and their children buying school materials for the new semester.

Source – TheNation

#Thailand – 9 policemen sacked as Mae Hong Son child-sex investigation widens

. NINE MAE HONG SON police-men have been dismissed from the civil service and put under serious disciplinary investigation after be…

Source: #Thailand – 9 policemen sacked as Mae Hong Son child-sex investigation widens

NINE MAE HONG SON police-men have been dismissed from the civil service and put under serious disciplinary investigation after being implicated in the northern province’s underage prostitution scandal.

#Thailand – Facebook lese majeste charges

SIX PEOPLE were charged and put on remand for alleged royal defamation, sedition, and computer crimes on Wednesday after being in military custody since last weekend, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Among the six was Prawet Prapanukul, a human rights lawyer widely known for defending red-shirt political prisoners such as Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul.

Prawet has denied he posted provocative and insulting messages against the monarchy on Facebook. He has been charged with lese majeste, computer crimes and sedition.

Another suspect who was identified as Danai faced the same charges but officers who brought the case to court did not describe the details of his alleged crimes, only saying he was the same person facing an arrest warrant dated April 28, the TLHR reported. Danai has denied the charges. The four others were accused of defaming the monarchy and committing computer crimes by sharing a Facebook post regarding the mysterious disappearance of the Siamese Revolution plaque. 

Three of them admitted the crimes while the fourth denied the charges. The criminal court rejected bail requests for the six and ordered that they be remanded in custody until May 14.

The THRL stated the six might have been detained in the 11th Military Circle since last Saturday. Relatives and lawyers had not been able to contact them since then, the THRL wrote on its website.

Source – TheNation

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Malaysia, Indonesia to cooperate in Marine Tourism Triangle

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya and Malaysia’s Tourism and Culture Deputy Minister Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Marine Tourism Triangle Cooperation that will establish a cruise route between Langkawi in Malaysia, Phuket in Thailand and Sabang in Aceh province.

The agreement was made in Bangkok on Wednesday, during the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2017 Global Summit.

“We want to build a yacht and a sailing route that will allow travelers to visit three countries on one cruise,” said Arief.

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“After the Sail Sabang 2017 [event] in December, there will be a marine tourism project that is going to connect the three ports,” he added.

The agreement aims to help promote the Triangular Sailing Passage between Langkawi, Phuket and Sabang.

During a recent meeting with Arief in Bangkok, Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said that Phuket has agreed to join the cooperation and would soon sign the MoU.

Source – TheJakartaPost

Laos – Xaysana’s Associate, Drug Kingpin Sisouk Daoheuang Captured

Since the capture of notorious kingpin Xaysana “Vanlob” Keophimpha earlier this year, authorities have been on a manhunt for all of Xaysana’s known associates, including drug kingpin, Sisouk Daoheuang.

A senior official confirmed that the arrest of Sisouk was made by Lao authorities in Luang Prabang on Friday, and the suspect was transported to Vientiane Capital for questioning. However, the official maintains that details of the case still remain unclear and  the investigation is still ongoing.

Though captured in Luang Prabang province, Sisouk is said to have owned and operated a used luxury car shop and a horse-riding business in Vientiane, both of which have since been closed.

Thai police major general Pornchai Charoenwongse, deputy chief of the Narcotic Suppression Bureau, has stated that Thai officials are preparing to travel to Vientiane to investigate the alleged felon and that the NSB officers are set to join the Narcotics Control Board in the interrogation expected to take place next week.

Sisouk, who fled authorities after the arrest of Xaysana, is suspected to be part of a major methamphetamines distribution network in Southeast Asia, operated by the 42-year-old Lao national.

As previously reported by The Laotian Times, Xaysana was arrested on Jan. 19 at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport following a five-year investigation by Lao and Thai authorities.

Authorities assert that the drug baron was distributing caffeine-laced meth tablets known as “yaba” throughout the region.

On Jan 10, police captured a major drug trafficker said to be even bigger than Xaysana, 50-year-old Khonpasong Soukkaseum, also known as Xiengther, along with three of his associates.

Source – Laotian Times

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Rolls-Royce brings its malefic Black Badge to the Bangkok International Motor Show

Rolls-Royce brings its malefic Black Badge to the Bangkok International Motor Show.

Billed as the alter-ego of the world’s leading super luxury brand, the Rolls-Royce Black Badge makes its Southeast Asian debut this week, with the Wraith model showing its star quality to visitors at the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show.

According to Rolls Royce, Black Badge speaks to a younger, more assertive customer, the people they call the “rule breakers” and the “disrupters”, those that work hard in the day and commit the same intensity to play once darkness falls.

“Southeast Asia is now a global hub for highly successful young entrepreneurs, who have broken away from tradition to make their own mark in the world. Rolls-Royce Black Badge is presenting a darker and bolder proposition to suit this new attitude,” says Paul Harris, regional director for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in the Asia Pacific region.

“These clients are assertive, demanding and unafraid to take charge. Black Badge is the perfect bespoke answer to this distinctive, decisive and dynamic breed of owner-drivers without compromising the sublime Rolls-Royce driving experience.”

Starting from Bt35 million depending on the bespoke specification, the metamorphosis of the Rolls-Royce Wraith into its Black Badge alter-ego starts with the intensity of the black. Multiple layers of paint and lacquer are repeatedly hand-polished in the most exacting process ever developed for a solid colour. The result is a black that’s darker than night, sinister but sensuous and above all smart.

The Wraith Black Badge also includes a sophisticated centrepiece – aerospace-grade aluminium-threaded carbon fibre composite surfacing. Threads of aluminium just 0.014mm thick are woven together and bonded with carbon fibre through a painstaking process, resulting in one of the world’s most innovative and super-luxury materials.

Black Badge holds the ground with exclusive composite carbon fibre and lightweight alloy wheels, developed over four years, featuring 22 layers of carbon fibre laid in three axes and folded back on themselves to create 44 layers of strength. Further strength is added via a 3D forged, aircraft-grade aluminium hub, which is bonded to the rim using titanium fasteners.

And while the intense black will appeal to many, customers can specify whatever colour they want for the exterior and interior of their Rolls-Royce Black Badge.

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Bangkok International Motor Show kicks off today

Automakers hopeful of boost as motor show kicks off today

THE 38TH RUNNING of the annual Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) kicks off today at Impact Muang Thong Thani with automakers crossing their fingers for the market to continue growing after finishing last year with a slight shrinkage.

Altogether 768,788 vehicles were sold in the domestic market last year for a drop of 3.9 per cent, but auto companies are optimistic that the market has bottomed out and sales would reach 800,000-810,000 units this year.

The BIMS is considered a sales extravaganza, with companies launching fleets of new and improved models while dangling irresistible promotions.

More than 30 auto and 12 motorcycle brands are showcasing their products at the event, which goes to April 9.

“The BIMS is an auto exhibition event that brings together the highest level of automotive technology and one that helps drive the economy,” said Prachin Eamlumnow, chairman of the organizing committee. 

“Throughout the event, starting from construction to the last day, no less than Bt40 billion is expected to be spent.”

The show serves as a platform for displaying the latest automotive trends. It also helps stimulate the car market, allowing consumers to compare makes and models by visiting just a single venue.

Several companies are also showing off futuristic concept vehicles.

Toyota is displaying its FCV Plus, while Mitsubishi is putting the spotlight on the MiEV Evolution III. Nissan is unveiling its SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) vehicle, featuring the world’s first bio-ethanol electric power system.

Prachin expects increased competition in the passenger-car market this year.

“Since the start of the year, there has been a good number of new passenger car launches for small and medium-sized models, which were postponed from last year because of the passing away of King Bhumibhol. The premium market is also seeing a lot of action due to the increasing number of players,” he said.

The premium segment is welcoming a new player, as Meister Technik Co has been appointed as the new official Audi importer and is offering a large combination of models to compete against leaders Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Many consumers are ready to replace vehicles purchased through the last elected government’s first-car-buyer scheme, with the five-year ownership requirement ending last October for the first batch of buyers.

“We believe that this group of buyers will start looking for a new vehicle, but we can’t pinpoint what type of vehicle they will be interested in. They could upgrade to a larger model or still go for a small car,” Prachin said. 

Eased financing measures during the past two years have helped more people purchase vehicles, he added.

 Source – TheNation

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Supercar caravan marks Ferrari’s 70th anniversary

FERRARI importer Cavallino Motors is staging a caravan of 70 Ferraris from Bangkok to Ayutthaya Historical Park on March 25 today to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Italian sports-car brand.

Making its appearance in Thailand is the LaFerrari Aperta, a hybrid supercar. Only 209 cars will be built and one is available for Thailand.

Cavallino Motors enjoyed 60-per-cent sales growth during the past two years, which it attributes to improved after-sales facilities, and plans to open more centres in the future, said Voravud Bhirombhakdi, the company’s vice president.

“Establishing more integrated service centres is the goal,” he said.

 It is also offering restoration services for cars older than 20 years, offering certificates from the Ferrari factory in Italy, which helps boost resale value.

In terms of unit sales, managing director Nondhamalee Bhirombhakdi said, the company’s growth each year is driven by the popularity of models among the Ferrari fan club in Thailand. This depends on the price – a higher-priced model tends to lead to a more niche client base |but revenue per unit will be higher. 

The company offers a wide range of models, including vehicles for everyday life such as eight-cylinder models – California T, 488 GTB and Spider – as well as 12-cylinder models such as GTC4 Lusso and the newest 812 Superfast, she said. 

The company can also arrange financing deals to meet customers’ budgets, in line with the goal to increase trade-ins of second-hand Ferraris for new models. 

As many as 60 per cent of sales come from new customers introduced by existing customers, Nondhamalee said.

Source – TheNation

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Thais go Travel alone

According to research conducted by Booking.com, three in five Thais (62 percent) are planning to travel solo for the first time this year.

According to research conducted by Booking.com, three in five Thais (62 percent) are planning to travel solo for the first time this year.

Whilst travelling for the first time can be a scary prospect, three in four (79 per cent) feel it is worth it to be able to see a new place, and more than half (55 per cent) believe any nerves felt when they travelled somewhere for the first time have usually been unwarranted.

The research reveals that 11 per cent had their first travel experience somewhere outside Thailand and that most are planning to head to far-flung destinations. Among the top international destinations for Thai travelers are Siem Reap in Cambodia, Seoul and Jeju of South Korea, Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, Beijing in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

From cobalt blue seas, adventurous roof-down road trips and delicious cuisine – social media feeds are full of the filtered fantasy of the travel dreams. So it’s no wonder that the research reveals how social media is playing a hugely important role in deciding where to go for a first-time travel experience, especially with 18 to 34 year olds. In fact, about half (49 per cent) of millennials said that they use social media posts to help them remember their first-time travel experiences.

The research reveals how first-time travel ignites the travel bug for Thais with three in five (60 percent) confirming their first-time travel experiences inspired them to try a new or different type of travel experience or accommodation the next time. In fact, almost half are planning to be more adventurous in their next travel plans with three in five (67 per cent) resolving to travel further away from home.

The types of first-time experiences people want to try this year is also broadening beyond the traditional beach holidays or city explorations, with road trips proving to a popular choice (44 per cent), followed by eco tours (39 per cent), spiritual adventures (23 per cent) and volunteering-based trips (21 per cent) selected by wanderlust travelers in their travel plans.

Source – TheNation

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