Thailand Bulletin For Wednesday, July 18
Roundup of Thailand news with AJW
BANGKOK BRIEF: Protesters opposed to the government's decision to withdraw soldiers from disputed land near the Preah Vihear temple are planning a demonstration near the Thai-Cambodian border Wednesday morning. More schools will be ordered to close temporarily as the Health Ministry battles to curb the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) outbreak.
WORLD SUMMARY: Libya's liberal coalition beat Islamist parties in the first poll. US regulators approved the second new anti-obesity drug in 13 years, Qsymia, for use with exercise and a good diet. Yahoo! said Tuesday its profit in the past quarter fell modestly in results reflecting upheaval at the struggling Internet pioneer, which named a new top executive this week. Spanish authorities evacuated a town of 1,800 residents on the Canary Islands on Tuesday, after three days of firefighting.
COURT: The cabinet agreed to the Council of State's request to wait for the full text of the Constitution Court's ruling on the charter amendment bill for study.
VIRUS: Eighteen schools in Bangkok have been closed temporarily due to the outbreak of viral hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), with more than 12,500 HFMD cases reported nationwide since the beginning of this year, the provinces with the highest infection rates between January 1 to July 9 are Phayao, Phuket, Chiang Rai, Surat Thani, and Rayong.
EURO DEBT: In the worst case scenario, the impact of the euro zone debt crisis would trim Thailand's economic growth by between 0.5 and 1.0 percent, Fiscal Policy Office Director General Somchai Sujjapongse said on Tuesday.
CONSTITUTION: Bravo to Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung for his sensible recommendation that the Pheu Thai Party should amend the constitution section by section, as suggested by the Constitution Court, rather than setting up a constitution drafting assembly to write a new charter.
TODAY: Weather 33C; HOT and Wet; Euro:US 1.2297; Euro:Baht 38.91; SET Index: 1224
THAI NIGHT FLYING: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra discussed congestion problems at Suvarnabhumi with officials.
She said officials would try to decrease the number of day flights and increase night flights. At the moment, there are more flights in the daytime, when the airport is more vulnerable to congestion.
She ordered officials to speed up the 62-billion-baht second phase of the expansion of the airport's passenger terminal and the construction of a 13-billion-baht third runway to increase its capacity.
She also ordered greater use of Bangkok's second airport, Don Mueang, to help ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi.
THAI MERIDIEN: Le Meridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort introduces 13 new Premium Villas situated on four acres of stunning beachfront land, west of the main hotel. Embracing the boutique villa concept and designed in a contemporary style born from the traditional Thai culture, the Premium Villas are set in their own private area adjacent to the main hotel.
MARKETS: China the largest foreign US creditor, boosted its holdings of government securities in May to the most in six months as the American economy stalled and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis deepened.
Chinese holdings rose 0.4 percent to $1.1696 trillion, Treasury Department data released yesterday show. Those of Japan, the US’s second-largest lender, rose 1.4 percent to an all-time high of $1.1052 trillion. Net foreign purchases of Treasuries increased $54.2 billion, or 1 percent, to a record $5.264 trillion in May, the data show.
“Slowing US growth and increasing uncertainty about Greece is what caused more private and official demand,” said Shyam Rajan, an interest-rate strategist in New York at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of the 21 primary dealers that trade with the Federal Reserve. “US data has actually gotten weaker since.”
Investors continued to seek a haven in US Treasuries in May as concern mounted regarding the potential need for Spain to seek a bailout and amid uncertainty whether a party seeking to cancel the terms of earlier bailouts would win elections in Greece. The balloting was seen as a referendum on whether the country would stand by its international-bailout commitments.
Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes dropped to a record low of 1.44 percent on June 1 after US employers added the fewest workers in a year in May and as the Fed pledged to keep borrowing costs close to zero to sustain economic growth.
MOVENPICK: "Hotel owners want something different from the market,'' said Markus Muller, the Vice President for Movenpick sales and marketing in Asia, ''In Phuket now are so many Thai and American hotel brands but none from Switzerland, which is considered to have the best hospitality academies."
THAI BEER WARS: Heineken, the world's third-largest brewer, warned it would act to protect its interests in Asia, after the founder of Thailand's leading beer and spirits group bid for a stake worth $1.6 billion in its partner in the region. The Asia Pacific region is a fast-growing one for Heineken, where it brews Tiger Beer with Singaporean partner Fraser and Neave.
Thai Beverage pcl, controlled by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, confirmed on Wednesday that it was in talks to buy an 18.2 percent stake in Heineken's Asian partner from Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) and its insurance unit.
If Charoen is successful, his entity will emerge as Fraser and Neave's (F&N) biggest shareholder, followed by Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings Co. On Wednesday, Kirin declined to comment on ThaiBev's action.
Charoen's surprise move jolted Heineken, forcing it to express concern over what it called a sudden development. F&N and Heineken jointly control Asia Pacific Breweries whose flagship brand is Tiger Beer.
"It's a pretty aggressive move from the Thai company," a Singapore-based investment banker.
Charoen has also offered to buy a 7.9 percent holding in Asia Pacific Breweries, a $598 million stake that is also owned by OCBC and its insurance unit, Great Eastern Holdings. The two stakes were valued at $2.3 billion at Tuesday's closing price.
Charoen is Thailand's third-richest man, with a net worth of $4.8 billion, according to Forbes. He took ThaiBev, Thailand's largest brewer and distiller, public in Singapore in 2006. He has bet heavily on real estate and his privately held TCC Land owns Bangkok tech mall Pantip Plaza. Charoen also owns hotel chains in Manhattan and Australia, and residential and commercial buildings in Singapore and Thailand.
HOLIDAY INN: Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts makes a foray into the Asian beach scene with the opening of Crowne Plaza Phuket Panwa Beach Resort to tap its established corporate traveler market along with upscale leisure tourists: “There are roughly 3,000 vacant hospitality jobs in Phuket and the Asean Economic Community will likely allocate these to skilled labor, as fluency in languages is needed to make foreigners feel at home.”
OLYMPICS: London's Heathrow airport is grappling with a record passenger surge as competitors begin arriving for the Olympics amid mounting concern about travel and security arrangements for an event that starts next week.
HUMAN HARVEST: A multinational medical company in the US accused of manufacturing therapeutic goods from improperly harvested human corpses is distributing dental implants to Australian patients. Ukrainian investigators say the grisly trade has left behind what they describe as “human sock puppets” - corpses stripped of their reusable parts.