Barrows Hotel Enterprises Considers SPAC Merger

Barrows Hotel Enterprises

Barrows Hotel Enterprises Considers Merger

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Barrows, the provider of hotel investment and advisory services for hotels in the Middle East and Africa is considering going public by a merger within twelve months. The company is therefore considering using a SPAC Merger structure to list on the Nasdaq.

With a SPAC Merger, Barrows could be worth over $500 million. The company has become known for property development and providing financing of hotel real estate in the Middle East and Africa. The company also provides corporate advice for hotel owners and hotel operators. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Barrows closed long-term partnerships with investors from Russia, Africa and the United States.

The capital that Barrows should raise with the merger will be used for in-depth investments and making acquisitions within the industry, according to Barrows Chairman Erwin Jager. Barrows has grown rapidly in recent years and wants to increase further its market position in the coming years. The Hotel Industry is growing rapidly and with Barrows we can add value in many ways and with new technologies.

Barrows Hotel Enterprises internationally manages over 10,000 hotel rooms in more than 10 countries. The company started in 2008 as a real estate investor in the residential market in Dubai. Since 2012, Barrows has changed its strategy and the company is fully focused on the fast-growing hotel industry in the Middle East. Since 2020 Barrows is active in the African Continent.

For more information:
media@barrowshotel.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/3f681a95-c3b5-41e9-81f6-8f617660f53c

Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) linked with improved health outcomes in largest-ever real-world analysis of lower extremity peripheral vascular interventions

November 8, 2021

  • Independent analysis includes Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data from over 700,000 peripheral arterial and peripheral venous intervention patients
  • Data demonstrate a 32% reduction in major adverse limb events, such as amputations, during lower extremity arterial intervention
  • When iliofemoral venous* stenting was guided by IVUS, there was a 31% reduction in the composite outcome of repeat intervention, hospitalization or death, together with a reduced risk of stent thrombosis, embolization and stenosis
  • First real-world study by the Smith Center for Outcomes Research shows the value of IVUS in broad peripheral vascular patient populations, emphasizing the importance of IVUS in optimizing patient care

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology and IVUS solutions, today announced the results of a new large-scale real-world analysis of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data on the health outcomes of peripheral vascular interventions guided by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). The study was conducted independently by the Smith Center for Outcomes Research, with the results presented at the 2021 Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) meeting by Eric A. Secemsky, MD, Director of Vascular Intervention and Interventional Cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. The study, supported by Philips, underlines the company’s commitment to a strong evidence base for its innovations in the pursuit of better patient outcomes, enhanced patient and staff experiences, and lower cost of care.

Numerous prospective studies have already shown the benefit of IVUS guidance in peripheral vascular interventions, making it a gold-standard imaging modality for this application. The new study results now show that the outcome observations from these prior studies apply directly to a broader peripheral arterial and peripheral venous intervention patient population, demonstrating strong support for the use of IVUS during peripheral interventions.

“The results of this large-scale study demonstrate favorable long-term outcomes in peripheral vascular interventions when IVUS is used,” said Eric Secemsky, MD. “This analysis, combined with the recent appropriate use consensus on IVUS that was presented at VIVA in October, highlights a clear opportunity to improve health outcomes for millions of patients by broader and more routine implementation of the technology in clinical practice. This is a moment for us to further our efforts in saving lives and saving limbs.”

Peripheral artery disease (PAD): a 32% reduction in major adverse limb events, including amputations, during lower extremity arterial interventions
The study looked at Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older who underwent lower extremity arterial interventions between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2019. Among 697,794 interventions, the investigators found a 32% reduction in major adverse limb events, such as amputations, over a median 425 days of follow-up. These findings were consistent across disease states, including critical limb ischemia and non-critical limb ischemia, as well as arterial segments such as the iliac (hip area), femoropopliteal (upper leg area) and tibial (lower leg area).

Peripheral artery disease develops when plaque builds up in the vessel wall and reduces blood flow to the limbs, most commonly the legs. It affects more than 8.5 million people in the USA [1]. PAD symptoms include recurrent fatigue, leg pain, and foot or leg wounds that do not heal or heal very slowly. Critical limb ischemia (CLI) is an advanced stage of PAD and is typically associated with high rates of cardiovascular events, amputations, and mortality. CLI patients have low survival rates, with 5-year mortality exceeding 50% [2].

Chronic venous disease (CVD): a 31% reduction in repeat intervention, hospitalization, or death during iliofemoral venous stenting
Separately, the investigators examined Medicare beneficiary data for patients treated between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2019, in multiple clinical settings, including hospital in-patient settings, hospital outpatient centers, and private office-based clinics, involving 20,984 individual patients. Of these, 72% underwent stenting guided by IVUS. When IVUS was used, there was a 31% reduction in the composite outcome of repeat intervention, hospitalization, or death. In addition, IVUS use reduced the risk of stent thrombosis, embolization and stenosis.

Chronic venous disease (CVD) is both a common and underappreciated problem impacting over 30 million Americans [3]. Advanced CVD impacts over 6 million people in the USA and iliofemoral venous obstruction costs as much as USD 3 billion per year for ulcer care in advanced presentations [4].

“We commend Dr. Secemsky and the Smith Center for Outcomes Research for this on-going study to simplify clinical procedures and improve clinical and patient outcomes,” said Chris Landon, Senior Vice President and General Manager Image Guided Therapy Devices at Philips. “We are committed to supporting evidence-based medical guidelines in pursuit of better patient outcomes. We believe that the ability of IVUS to deliver procedure optimization and confidence enhances patient and staff experiences and lowers cost of care.”

First-ever global consensus for the appropriate use of IVUS in PVD interventions
In October 2021, a team of clinical experts led by Eric Secemsky, MD, established the first-ever global, cross-specialty expert consensus for the appropriate use of IVUS in peripheral vascular disease interventions. This initiative was jointly supported by Philips and Boston Scientific. Today, healthcare providers’ use of IVUS in PVD interventions is not standardized and is therefore inconsistent. The new appropriate-use expert consensus may help establish global standards of care to adopt into guidelines and improve quality of care in PVD.

To achieve consensus, the broad, multi-disciplinary group of global experts used a rigorous methodology. They conducted a systematic and comprehensive review of key clinical IVUS scenarios and decision-making processes before voting on the appropriate use consensus. Through this methodology, the group has established a clinical consensus to identify the optimal use of IVUS and potential knowledge gaps in order to set a standard across clinical specialties and drive positive outcomes for patients. Their findings were shared at a special symposium during Vascular Interventional Advances (VIVA) 2021.

Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS)
Philips is the global leader in IVUS solutions, which are part of the company’s comprehensive portfolio of systems, smart devices, software, and services for peripheral vascular disease aimed at helping clinicians decide, guide, treat, and confirm the right therapy for each patient during their procedure. Phased-array IVUS is an important imaging tool used during venous and arterial interventions. It provides the fast plug-and-play usability and high-fidelity image resolution needed for pre-procedural planning, intra-procedural guidance, and post-procedural optimization of therapy for patients. Using a miniaturized ultrasound transducer mounted on the tip of a catheter, it captures real-time images of vascular disease inside vessels, enabling physicians to standardize and improve procedure care for their patients. Additional workflow optimization is enabled by integrated suite offerings such as Philips’ Azurion 7 with IntraSight platform.

*The venous at the hip joint where the veins from the left and right leg come together into the abdominal aorta
[1] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001005
[2] Duff S, Mafilios MS, Bhounsule P, Hasegawa JT. The burden of critical limb ischemia: a review of recent literature. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2019;15:187-208. Published 2019 Jul 1. doi:10.2147/VHRM.S209241 & https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1358863X211028298
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5920451/
[4] https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.006898

For further information, please contact:

Joost Maltha
Philips Global Press Office
Tel: +31 6 10 55 8116
Email: joost.maltha@philips.com

Fabienne van der Feer
Philips Image Guided Therapy
Tel: + 31 622 698 001
E-mail: fabienne.van.der.feer@philips.com

About Royal Philips
Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and well-being, and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2020 sales of EUR 17.3 billion and employs approximately 78,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.

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Uyghurs Outside China Say They Have Been Abandoned

WASHINGTON — Tahir Hamut Izgil, a 52-year-old Uyghur asylum-seeker, has been living in the United States with his wife and three children since 2017. The family settled in northern Virginia after fleeing China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Izgil has been waiting four years and has not yet been granted asylum by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

“My two daughters’ China-issued passports expired in 2019, and they have no official status here in the U.S.,” Izgil told VOA. “Without any status, my daughter who is now a freshman at Virginia Tech is not able to apply for a student loan or scholarship.”

According to Izgil, he and his family came to the U.S. when China began “arbitrarily detaining Uyghurs under the pretext of countering extremism or separatism” and confiscating the passports of Uyghurs.

“There are in total, a few hundred Uyghur asylees like me in the U.S. anxiously waiting for their asylum interviews by the USCIS, some even for six or seven years,” Izgil told VOA.

Uyghurs in U.S.

According to Victoria Palmer, USCIS spokesperson, the agency reviews applications for asylum and determines eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

“Uyghur asylum-seekers are lawfully allowed to remain in the United States while their case is pending,” Palmer told VOA. “Additionally, the USCIS Asylum Division may consider an urgent request to schedule an interview outside of the application priority order on an individual basis.”

Citing Beijing’s “systematic attempt to destroy” Uyghurs, including the imprisonment of more than 1 million people, the U.S. denounced Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang as crimes against humanity this year.

Beijing has repeatedly dismissed allegations from Western countries and human rights groups that facilities are internment camps, instead insisting they are “vocational training centers” where Uyghurs learn new skills.

Last month on behalf of Uyghur asylum-seekers in the U.S. and Uyghur refugees around the world, Izgil testified at a hearing of the Congressional Executive Commission on China.

“Uyghurs who have been able to go abroad still have great difficulty in achieving secure living conditions,” Izgil told VOA after the hearing.

Even though he feels abandoned by U.S. authorities who have not yet ruled on his asylum case, he says in comparison with Uyghur refugees in other parts of the world, his family is lucky.

“There are thousands of Uyghur refugees around the world who may be returned to China where they will face life-threatening situation if deported,” Izgil said. “For example, Thailand is holding more than 50 Uyghur refugees in its prison for more than five years.”

Uyghurs in Turkey

Five thousand miles away from northern Virginia, in Istanbul, lives Ihsan Kartal, who is too afraid to use his own name. Kartal is a 35-year-old Uyghur refugee from Xinjiang.

He is one of an estimated 50,000 Uyghur refugees living in Turkey.

Kartal said he arrived in Turkey with his wife and three children in February 2018 from Dubai after police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) interrogated him and warned him of the possibility of being deported to China.

“I had been working and living in Dubai since 2010,” Kartal told VOA. “But everything changed in 2017 and 2018 there. I witnessed some of my Uyghur friends in UAE being detained by UAE authorities and deported back to China.”

UAE is among countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia that have deported Uyghurs to China in recent years, CNN reported.

In Turkey, according to Kartal, he and his fellow Uyghur refugees live in constant fear of being arrested by Turkish authorities and returned to China.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed an extradition treaty with China in 2017.

 

Source: Voice of America

Body found in Chao Phraya River after 2.5-day search with help of underwater robot

The body of a 27-year-old man, plunging along with his car into the Chao Phraya River in the Muang district of Thailand’s Nakhon Sawan province on Friday night, has been found today (Monday), as an underwater robot, equipped with a camera, was deployed in the search for a sports utility vehicle and the driver.

Police have since announced that they have found the body of a man, stuck in the riverbank in Ban Wang Cha of Krok Phra district, about 15 kilometres from the bridge in Muang district, where the victim’s car had plunged into the river from the bypass.

Parents of the victim, who were closely following the search by rescue workers, positively identified the body as being that of their son. The remains have been taken to the district hospital for an autopsy, before being returned to his family for a funeral.

Rescue workers have been trying, without success, to locate his SUV. Nakhon Sawan provincial police said the victim’s friend sent a submersible robot to help rescue workers in the search, because the visibility under water is poor.

The victim’s mother, who lives in Suphan Buri province, told the police that she received a phone call from her son at about 10pm on Friday night, saying that his car had plunged into the river and was sinking. Then the phone went dead.

She said she immediately asked her other children to try to find out where her son was at the time of the accident. It was discovered, through GPS tracing, that the last phone signal came from a bridge in Muang district of Nakhon Sawan.

The man reportedly went to Chainat province to meet his girlfriend, so both could travel in his car to Nakhon Sawan to attend her friend’s birthday party on Friday. He was late and his girlfriend drove her car to Nakhon Sawan ahead of him.

Pol Maj-Gen Rapeepong Sukpaibul, commander of Nakhon Sawan provincial police, said he suspects that the driver of the ill-fated car might have been tired and could not see the road ahead clearly due to a curve and no barrier.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Singapore, Malaysia to allow quarantine-free travel between both countries

SINGAPORE, Singapore and Malaysia will allow quarantine-free travel between both countries for individuals vaccinated against COVID-19, they said in a joint statement on Monday.

The two neighbors will launch a so-called vaccinated travel lane between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Nov. 29, it said.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Actions to be taken against ‘Clubhouse’ users who discriminate against people from Isaan

Thai Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES), Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, has vowed to take legal action against anyone who openly discriminates or has discriminated against people born in the country’s north-eastern region, known as Isaan, in online discussions on the “Clubhouse” platform.

Meanwhile, a group of north-eastern MPs, from the opposition Pheu Thai Party, called on the government today (Monday) to take immediate action to stop this provocative act which, they said, may incite division among Thai people. They also want the creation of a better understanding among Thais toward the Isaan people, their cultures and traditions.

Chaiwut admitted today that the criticism in the “Clubhouse” chat room has caused widespread unease among members of the public, adding that he has instructed officials to ascertain if any of the criticism is inflammatory, false or discriminatory, which may cause damage to the public, in accordance with the computer crime law. Those found guilty will be liable to a maximum of five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of 100,000 baht.

He said that anyone who feels they have been insulted or discriminated against in online discussions can file a complaint with the police.

The flagrant online discrimination has provoked an uproar among netizens, making the “Clubhouse toxic” hashtag hugely popular on Twitter. One participant referred to famous pop idol Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban, of the ‘Blackpink’ girl band, by saying if Isaan is so good, she should have returned to her hometown in Buri Ram province, not live in South Korea.

Pheu Thai MP Suthin Klangsaeng told the media at parliament today that he feels the participants in the discussions completely lack maturity and understanding about the Isaan people.

He urged the Ministry of Education to educate Thai children about diversity and multiculturalism, where people from different places and backgrounds must co-exist in peace and harmony.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

‘Liberal democracy’ can aid ASEAN on superpower rivalry: former Thai FM

BANGKOK – A united ideology can elevate ASEAN to better manage superpower rivalry, regional crises and meet the aspirations of its citizens, said two Thai regional experts.

Both Kasit Piromya, former Foreign Minister, and Supalak Ganjanakhundee, independent researcher, advocate “liberal democracy” as a new shared belief for ASEAN and which, they say, is the only option to bring peace and stability back to crisis-hit Myanmar.

Both were speaking at the third Thai foreign policy webinar series on “ASEAN’s Future and Crisis in Myanmar” last Thursday, jointly hosted by the Surin Pitsuwan Foundation, Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy, Thai PBS and Asia News Network. The session was moderated by Faudi Pisuwan from SPF.

The other two panelists were Kavi Chongkittavorn, former editor of Myanmar Times, and Sirada Khemanitthathai, from the Faculty of Political Science at Chiang Mai University.

Kasit pushed the conventional wisdom, that ASEAN was founded 54 years ago based on “regional security interests”, to one of joint ideology or common belief to oppose communism and the domino theory.

“Now, it’s under stress. It is being squeezed on two fronts. One is the ideology and political systems at the extreme ends of the two superpowers. The other is the pressure on ASEAN leaders, from the bottom up, of its citizens, who aspire to live in a society which is free and has rights.”

He said liberal democracy is the only option going forward for the 10-member ASEAN, if it wants to remain relevant in the global affairs.

The view from Kasit, a former Thai Foreign Ministry official turned politician, was echoed by Supalak, who proposed that Thailand should launch what he termed “complex engagement” to help ASEAN resolve the crisis in Myanmar.

Such a complex engagement with Myanmar would involve non-coercion, open exchange in dialogue with all stakeholders and, most importantly, shared liberal values of “free politics, free market and the guaranteed rights of the people”.

“These values must be embedded in our foreign policy to address these issues,” said Supalak, who is a former editor of The Nation.

Sirada welcomed ASEAN’s omission of Myanmar’s junta leader from the recent summit as setting a new standard for the bloc.

Kavi said ASEAN should be commended for surviving for 50 plus years, from the Cold War era, through economic crises, SARS and now for pursuing post-COVID-recovery and efforts to end the crisis in Myanmar.

“ASEAN has adjusted steadily, but is often criticised for its slowness, but we all have to understand that ASEAN members comprise both heroes and villains. It’s an amusing mélange of every brand of political rule.”

Kavi added that ASEAN members have been intervening among the members all the time, but that may not in a way that many understand.

“For Thailand, it has many limitations but it’s our strong point. If we’re too open we will end up with many enemies.”

Kasit said the reinvention of ASEAN, as well as Thailand’s role, have not been sufficiently scrutinised or debated. He divided the life of the regional bloc into three periods, with each linked to ideology or common belief.

The first was the founding in 1967, with a common vision to oppose communism and not to accept the domino theory. This proved an enormous success, with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and ASEAN gained global recognition.

The second was the emerging modern global connectivity and then globalisation. ASEAN joined the globalisation process under global rules, especially under the WTO, and shared a common aspiration to become the regional production hub, central to the supply chain.

In parallel, ASEAN sought to achieve peaceful co-existence by ending regional conflicts. As a result, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia entered the bloc, bringing the membership to 10, he said.

The members came together to develop the master plan on connectivity, comprising the likes of cross border facilitation, a common market of a sort, and acceptance of professional certifications, from medicine to accountancy. The results were free flows of money and workers, merchandise and services.

ASEAN, at the same time, strengthened its international relations through the dialogue partner mechanism.

Kasit described 1967 to 2012, for the Asia Pacific or Indo Pacific region, as smooth and peaceful. The US was a superpower, guaranteeing stability and supporting China in its social and economic development. China owed its rise to the US, which provided the conducive atmosphere.

Then, however, the Thai diplomat said geopolitics took a twist, with the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping adopting a different thinking to his predecessors and a determination to reverse China’s so called “Century of Humiliation.”

With this, the new Chinese leader proceeded with policies and actions to restore pride and to elevate China to superpower status. There were unilateral acts in the South China Sea, as well as in the Upper Mekong. Subsequently, Kasit said, reactions came from the US and its allies, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and India.

“ASEAN was plunged into difficulties with changed geopolitics. How was it to position itself as the Cold War era of 50 years ago resurfaced? On the one hand it is about ideology and about who is stronger or bigger in the Indo Pacific region between China and the US,” Kasit said.

He added that the conflict can also be seen as being between the two systems. The one-party political system and authoritarianism of China versus the multiparty liberal democracy of the US.

“In the past few years, the US has also united with some allies, India, Japan and Australia, to form the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, on regional security, to oppose expansion of China and its unilateral moves and not to accept the thinking of a one-party system. Just recently came the AUKUS (a trilateral security pact with Australia and the UK).”

Kasit said the underlining common features of the US and its allies are to advocate rule by democracy and to reject unilateral action and expansion in South China Sea.

He added that the stress on ASEAN is amplified by pressure from its citizens on freedoms and rights. “It’s all linked to the essence of ASEAN on human rights, democracy, being people centric.”

ASEAN or its leaders now have a binding obligation to decide upon the bloc’s role, and to find positioning on US or China conflicts. ASEAN is also bound by its obligations to the UN on human rights, children, political set up, said Kasit, adding that none of these issues prevailed in 1967 or 1991.

Now, it has an obligation toward democracy and a people centered policy through its conduct, as well as those with the UN. There is an obligation to the people, who are tired of authoritarian rule, whether through personalities, such as former Filipino president Marcos, or military, like former Indonesian president Suharto or many of the former Thai prime ministers, said Kasit.

All these played out in ASEAN’s disunited response to the Myanmar crisis. “Now it is about democracy and rights of the people. The split developed, following the Feb 1st, 2021 coup in Myanmar, between the conservatives, led by ASEAN members such as Brunei and the majority authoritarianism of the Philippines, and Thailand, to a lesser extent, or one-party rule, such as Singapore, although it has excellent governance.”

In parallel, there has also been the rise of political Islamism, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Kasit said he and several of his ASEAN and international political colleagues, including Cambodia’s political opposition in exile Sam Rainsy, have come together to propose a revolution in the structure of ASEAN.

In the past 50 years, ASEAN has had few membership conditions compared to the EU, which stipulates that all members must be under a democratic system, observe the rights of the people and practice good governance. ASEAN does not have more than a charter and its UN commitments. “Now, with the choice between China and the open societies of the US, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, these become imperative as a choice,” he advocated.

“So we have to think about how to rebuild ASEAN as a democratic society i.e. all members given 10 years to become a democracy, a charter revamp, so it serves democratic values and practices, such as an ASEAN judicial court, ASEAN Parliament, like the EU Parliament, and an ASEAN civil platform, to check on rules and regulations,” proposed Kasit.

Without deepening structure and unity, the Thai diplomat said ASEAN will not be able to solve the Myanmar type of crisis, as it will not be able to agree on major issues, only smaller ones. It will not be able to penalise or sanction members who commit a major violation.

“This comes down to the need to have a joint ideology toward democracy,” he concluded.

ASEAN should also redefine the three major agreements it has signed, to help in managing the superpower rivalry. They include the treaty of amity and cooperation, nuclear free zone and zone of peace and freedom.

These would assist in ASEAN’s centrality, on the likes of Quad and AUKUS, “which currently are flying over our heads and we don’t know how to position ourselves.”

“And when we are seen not to be engaging, we are accused of not being democratic enough and of being a vassal to China. We can anchor ourselves with these three agreements, be neutral and play a role in reducing the military dimension,” Kasit suggested.

The present ASEAN split, in view of the military might of the US and China, is weighed with Vietnam and Singapore on the US side and Cambodia and China, with Cambodia allowing China to build the Ream naval base, which is against the Paris agreement. China should not have done this as it causes disunity and instability in South East Asia, he said.

ASEAN is known to have conducted quiet diplomacy on crises over the years in and among the member countries. This includes Aceh, East Timor, Phra Viharn, Malaysia’s Chin Peng incident and the seven-point Myanmar roadmap a decade ago.

“As regional issues have implications and spillover effects on ASEAN unity and its image,” he added.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Bangkok prepares for Loy Krathong festival

Bangkok is preparing for the Loy Krathong festival, celebrated across the city on November 19th, with strict COVID-19 measures in place.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang announced that this year’s Loy Krathong festival will be held at two prime locations, namely Ong Ang Canal in Samphanthawong and Phra Nakhon districts, and under the Rama 8 Bridge in Bang Phlat district.

30 public parks across the capital will also be open for the festival, but under strict measures to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.
The Governor urged the public to use krathongs (Thai floating baskets) made from natural materials, to reduce the amount of waste and to care for the environment.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will also deploy fire-fighting boats, lifeboats and rescue personnel along the Chao Phraya River, from the Rama 7 Bridge to the Rama 9 Bridge, covering 20.4 kilometres, to ensure safety.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office will also deploy fire trucks, fire extinguishers, area lighting vehicles, rescue personnel and equipment to all locations.

The City Law Office will have 150 personnel on duty around Ong Ang Canal for three days, another 150 personnel around the Rama 8 Bridge and 1,500 personnel in public parks, at boat piers and on all bridges across the Chao Phraya River.

Bottle rockets, fireworks, sky lanterns, or similar items are banned during the Loy Krathong festival. Violators will be subject to three years in prison and/or a fine up to 60,000 baht if convicted. Sale and use of all types of firecrackers are also banned, with violators subject to three months in prison and/or a fine up to 6,000 baht on conviction.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Thai government urged to formalise cross border assistance to Myanmar

BANGKOK  The Prayut government is being called upon to formalise cross border humanitarian assistance to crisis-hit Myanmar through the Thai Red Cross.

The call was made at the third Thai foreign policy webinar series on “ASEAN’s Future and Crisis in Myanmar” last Thursday, jointly hosted by the Surin Pitsuwan Foundation, Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy, Thai PBS and Asia News Network. The session was moderated by Fuadi Pitsuwan from SPF.

The increase in assistance to Myanmar by Thailand is imperative, given the economic collapse and internal fighting, said Kavi Chongkittavorn, former editor of the Myanmar Times.

“Myanmar’s problems are fundamentally Thailand’s as well. Thailand and Myanmar are like “Eng and Chang”. The acts may be different, but they are the same,” he added.

Some 100,000 Myanmar people are reported to be at the Myanmar-Thai borders and the numbers could grow, as the dry season usually heralds a Myanmar military offensive against armed ethnic minority groups, some of which are providing training to the so-called People’s Defence Force to fight the junta.

Myanmar has also seen some 1 million internally displaced persons since the Feb 1st, 2021 coup, 30% of whom are going hungry. “The Prayut government cannot stand still. Borders must be reopened and Thailand can assist with support from the international community,” said Kasit Piromya, former Foreign Minister.

He said China has been active across its borders with Myanmar, via the Kachin State, through the Chinese Red Cross.

The Thai Red Cross has been in contact with the Myanmar Red Cross, but the Thai government has yet to lend its official support.

“Everyone is waiting. The ICRC, UNICEF. There is also the US$50 million funding from the US, as well as funds from Japan,” he added.

The Thai initiative, as a frontline state, is seen as vital as ASEAN is stuck with the five-point consensus, which the Myanmar military junta has failed to honour.

Sirada Khemanitthathai, a Chiang Mai University political scientist, said the Thai government should also hasten resumption of the Memorandum of Understanding on migrant workers, which was suspended after the border closure because of COVID-19, “and they should make registration easier, and at a reasonable cost too.”

The Thai government has been criticised over its apparent aloof engagement with Myanmar, designed to build trust with Naypyitaw. Supalak Ganjanakhundee, an independent researcher, said. The Prayut government has a problem identifying Thai interests relating to Myanmar, because of illiberal thinking based on a narrow definition of “security”.

He said Thailand has benefited from stability and security in Myanmar over the past 10 years, allowing for enhancement of cooperation, such as the Dawei mega projects.

Now, however, the disruption following the coup has affected some 150-200 Thai firms in Myanmar, some of which are involved with the two main military holding companies at risk of international sanction.

Supalak said the Thai military’s high hopes that the Tatmadaw (armed forces) would become “considerate” have not materialised, as evidenced by the intentional shelling of Thai soil during an attack on an armed ethnic group last May.

“It is best to have the power to negotiate. This should be the core policy of the Foreign Ministry,” he added.

Thailand’s foreign policy is described as being dominated by several players through a policy corridor. The dominating policy body is the National Security Agency, the military and its subsets of army regional commands and others, leaving the Foreign Ministry with little say.

Acting bilaterally, Supalak suggested that the Thai businesses, who may have come to know the Tatmadaw better than the Thai military, should, alongside civil society, join the military and government in engaging Myanmar’s military, National Unity Government and ethnic minorities.

The Foreign Ministry and the military should have a joint strategy in this engagement process.

Supalak called for a new diplomatic phase, which he coined as “complex engagement” with Myanmar. These would contain elements as such as non-coercion, open exchange in dialogue with all stakeholders and, most importantly, an exercise of liberal values.

The shared liberal values of “free politics, free market and guaranteed the rights of the people” must be embedded in the Thai foreign policy in addressing crisis in Myanmar, said Supalak

Kavi said that what Thailand can do better is to negotiate with or talk to all sides. Myanmar people have relations with Thai society at all levels. The goodwill earned from the treatment of Myanmar people should be recognised.

He also suggested that Thailand work closely with the new UN envoy to Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore, so that regional and global agenda on Myanmar can be synergised.

Sirida said the Myanmar people, immediately following the coup, had high expectations which have since evaporated. “They did everything because they also want the world to know. The NUG was formed to make the junta’s legitimacy difficult (to establish) and the PDF is a move from peaceful means to other alternatives.”

She said the NUG’s proposed Federal Democracy is something ASEAN and Thailand should look at closely, as a way out for the country in the long term.

Kasit said there is no question over the NUG or the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s legitimacy through the elections. “It’s the SAC (State Administration Council) which lacks legitimacy.”

“As long as we don’t speak about violence, rape and use of arms against the unarmed, which are “crimes against humanity”, and as long as the Thai or ASEAN governments maintain silence and do not point out that it violates the first of the five-point consensus, then we are accomplices,” he said.

“Regional issues have implications and have spillover effects on ASEAN unity and its image,” he said.

Kavi expressed his hope that Cambodia, as Chair of ASEAN next year, will return normality to Myanmar, as he believes that Prime Minister Hun Sen has “something to prove”.

“It will be his third and last time as Chair of ASEAN and he is in his 37th year in power. He also wants to prove that he is not a nominee of China.”

Supalak suggested that Thailand should be active in implementing the five-point consensus with Cambodia, as a “Friend of the Chair” on Myanmar.

Vietnam should be engaged, as its state enterprise, Vitel, has business in Myanmar and the Vietnam military probably know Myanmar’s military better than the Thais.

“A frontline state should act as such – as a pro-active facilitator and bridge builder,” he added.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Crypto market value tops $3 trillion for first time

The world cryptocurrency market is worth more than $3 trillion for the first time, according to calculations Monday, as mainstream investors increasingly jump on board.

The value has reached $3.007 trillion (2.6 trillion euros), said CoinGecko, which tracks prices of more than 10,000 cryptocurrencies.

“The crypto market is growing at a mind-blowing speed,” noted SwissQuote analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

“A part of it is speculation of course, but a part of it is real,” she told AFP.

“Crypto is now making its way to traditional finance and everyone is on board.”

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, hit a record-high $66,000 last month after taking another step towards mainstream status.

It surged back above $66,000 on Monday close to its all-time peak after a five percent jump.

Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency by market value, hit a record high $4,768 on Monday.

A bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund, a type of financial instrument, launched on the New York Stock Exchange in October.

The ETF is a more accessible vehicle that puts bitcoin within the grasp of even more investors.

Some investors sees cryptocurrencies as a hedge against inflation, which is surging worldwide as economies reopen after pandemic lockdowns.

“Bitcoin is bouncing higher again, close to all-time highs,” Hargreaves Lansdown market analyst Susannah Streeter said Monday.

“The recent surge in the crypto… partly seems to have been caused by investors piling in, seeing it as a hedge against inflation,” Streeter added.

No more than 21 million bitcoin can be created, helping its price to trade way above its rivals, but trading of cryptocurrencies in general has shown to be extremely volatile with massive price swings a common occurrence.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service