BANGKOK, August 10 -- The new 992-generation Porsche 911 is now fully launched in the Thailand and the iconic sports car based on the 911 series gets non-S power and lower prices.
How much slower is it than the S?
After Porsche launched its latest generation 911 Carrera late last year in S guise, it has revealed the base version. Dubbed simply as Carrera, the entry-level 911 receives the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six albeit with 385hp, 65hp less than the Carrera S and 15hp more than in the outgoing 991-based predecessor. When equipped with eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Carrera goes from 0-100kph in 4.2sec. That’s half a second slower than the Carrera S with the same gearbox.
How much cheaper is it in price?
Thai pricing has yet to be finalised. But given that the Carrera S commands a circa-10% price premium in Europe, the Carrera could cost from under 11 million baht in Thailand. Due to its lower performance and market position, the Carrera gets smaller 19in wheels and 330mm disc brakes with calipers painted in black. The Carrera S, which sells for 11.5 million baht, has 20in wheels and larger discs (410mm up front and 390mm on the rear) with red calipers. The Cabriolet version is also available albeit with slightly higher pricing and slower 0-100kph acceleration time than the hard-top variant.
The other 992 models in the pipeline
As is customary, Porsche will fill every conceivable niche with its benchmark sports car - and we've got the lowdown from humble Carrera 2 to top-brass 911 Turbo, from soft-top convertibles to the red-hot new GT3 version. This is when you can expect to see the new 911 range derivatives:
And a 911 Targa?
Our spy photographers snapped the Targa version of the 992, and if we’re honest, it’s everything we expected. The Targa implementation at the back of the car looks very similar to what we’ve seen on previous 911s, and aside from a little tape, the car isn’t really camouflaged at all. Do you prefer the Targa to the ‘standard’ cabriolet? Let us know in the comments.
BANGKOK, August 7 -- Police investigators are rushing to try and unravel the mystery behind Friday morning’s arson and bomb attacks in Bangkok and the presumably related case of two unexploded devices found outside Royal Thai Police headquarters the day before.
Officers of various precincts are studying security camera recordings and interviewing people seen with suspects, including taxi drivers. There have been four arrests so far and warrants are expected to be sought for seven more suspects. Investigators are in total probing nine bombs – six that exploded and three that were safely disposed of – and six arson attacks in six different locations. A timeline compiled by The Nation based on information from police sources begins at 3.40pm on Thursday (August 1), when two bomb-like objects were noticed in front of Royal Thai Police HQ. Police initially characterized them as fake bombs – containing full detonating equipment but no explosive material.
It was later announced, however, that they were homemade bombs set to detonate between 8 and 9am on Friday. At 4.37am on Friday, Pathumwan police were alerted to fires at two department stores at the Samyan and Pathumwan intersections. Mall security and automatic extinguishers doused the flames and no one was hurt. At 4.40, Phayathai police got a call about a fire at the single-storey Sidewalk Market on Soi Phetchaburi 19 in Ratchathewi district, behind the Indra Regent Hotel. The blaze destroyed 60 clothing stalls. Officers from the Scientific Crime Detection Division found what were believed to be elements of fire bombs at the three fire locations, including timer circuit-boards attached to power banks and traces of alcohol. The fire bombs were similar to those used to cause disturbances in seven provinces in the upper South in 2016. In Bangkok, the first was set to detonate at the DD House Building half an hour before the other two. Security cameras at the malls recorded a man “planting” an object in the approximate right location at one mall, but no one was seen at the other. At 6.10am, a bomb exploded at the entrance to Building B at the Government Complex in Bangkok’s northern Chaeng Watthana district. No one was injured. Between 8.30 and 8.40, two more bombs exploded, one in front of the King Power Mahanakhon Building, injuring a security officer, the other in a carpark in front of the same downtown building, injuring an electrical technician. At 8.40, a bomb detonated in front of the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence in Nonthaburi’s Pakkret district. Again, no one was hurt. At 8.45, a second bomb exploded at Government Complex Building B, this time at the exit. At 9.10 there was an explosion in front of Supreme Command headquarters. No one was injured. At 11, a bomb disposal unit dismantled a second device in the same locale.
BANGKOK, August 7 -- The depreciation of the Chinese yuan will affect the baht and Thailand’s export values for the rest of the year, which will force the Bank of Thailand to come up with measures to manage the currency, economists say.
“The baht will fluctuate and even depreciate when foreign investors take their money out in response to the Bank of Thailand’s move to bring down the balance in non-resident accounts from Bt300 million to Bt200 million per person. However, the currency should appreciate again as Thailand is a safe haven for investors due to its high-foreign currency reserve and a public debt that is only 40 per cent of the gross domestic product,” Dr Somchai Pakapaswiwat, an economist and independent academic, told The Nation on Tuesday. However, he said, when the baht appreciates against the US dollar, it will also rise against the Chinese yuan, which will have a direct impact on Thai exports, because Chinese products will become cheaper. “China may also dump its products in the Thai market, especially if Chinese goods work out to be cheaper than local products,” Somchai said. He added that since the trade war has now become a currency war, it will have an adverse effect on all countries, which is why the South Korean won has also dropped against the greenback. Somchai believes the central bank may launch other measures to manage the baht, especially since it is appreciating over currencies from countries that are direct export competitors. Research by the Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence Centre shows that the baht has risen 5.1 per cent against the dollar since January 1, while the yuan has dropped 2.3 per cent. “Recent events in the US-China trade war will definitely have negative ramifications on Thai exports,” said Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries. He added that labelling China as a currency manipulator may lead to a further escalation in the ongoing trade war and set off risks such as the tariff impact spilling over to Thailand, a slowdown in the global economy and currency volatility. Currently, most Thai exporters use the US dollar as the currency for cross-border trading, Supant said. Hence, he said, to reduce risks induced from volatile currencies, we must promote the use of local currencies in cross-border trade.
Recent tensions between the US and China will likely contribute to a hardening of positions from both sides, said Martin Petch, vice president of Moody’s Sovereign Risk Group. “It also increases the likelihood of US tariffs on Chinese products to rise beyond current levels, followed by further retaliatory measures by China,” he continued. “Unless negotiations between the US and China resume rapidly, this latest development is likely to create negative spill-over effects in both China, the US and globally, and particularly in Asia.” Furthermore, he cautioned, market expectations of further yuan devaluation may force other currencies to drop, particularly those with strong trading ties to China. Meanwhile, the Thai National Shipping Council’s chairman Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong said the private sector was worried about the yuan depreciation, but had yet to evaluate its impacts on Thai exports. She added that preliminary estimates show that a weaker yuan will increase the price of goods exported from Thailand by 10 per cent. She added that the council will monitor the export market in the last quarter to see if the yuan depreciation has had any impact. The council's vice chairman Visit Limlurcha agreed that a weaker yuan will automatically make Thai export products, especially electronics, more expensive. Ghanyapad also said the council wants related state agencies to stop the baht from getting any stronger, because if the baht appreciates beyond the Bt30 to a US dollar mark, it will have an adverse impact in the export market. The council has also drawn up a strategy for the government, and one of its recommendations is for the Commerce Ministry to set up a war room to closely monitor the export situation and enhance the sector. Moreover, the ministry should look for new promising export markets and hold off on increasing the daily minimum wage.
BANGKOK, August 6 -- Updated M2 is still in a class of its own amid the arrival of more price-affordable sports cars.
Like in many new Mercedes-AMGs, BMW’s M cars now come in two power guises. While the basic version carries a regular badge, the Competition moniker is used on the go-faster variant (AMG uses the S letter). But that’s not exactly the case with the M2 Competition, as tested here on Thai roads, which actually forms as the mid-life update of BMW’s smallest M-honed coupe. Yes, it’s more powerful than the regular model, but the M2 Competition boasts a new engine. Replacing the 370hp single-turbo sixer (N55) is a 410hp twin-turbo unit (S55), detuned from that used in the M3 and M4. For M fans, this mechanical change might already be sufficient for an update, which is probably why they might choose to overlook some small cosmetic alterations like a reshaped black kidney grille, as such. The price of the M2 Competition is set at 6.259 million baht, higher than the pre-facelift model by 360k. That’s still decent when you consider that the 300hp versions of the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 718 Cayman are priced from six and 6.6 million baht accordingly. But, on the other hand, some new lower-priced sports cars have arrived on Thai shores after the M2’s inception including the sub-5 million baht 460hp Ford Mustang V8 and 390hp Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe. Can any comparison with the M2 Competition be valid?
When we first drove and thrashed the M2 around a racetrack in the US three years ago, it was noted that more power could have served better justice for the chassis. In fact, the M2 inherited the front sub-frame from the M4 ever since. So here it is, the S55-tagged straight-six that not only makes the M2 Competition genuinely powerful in a straight line but highly entertaining when roads start to meander. The carried-over dual-clutch automatic is still terrific to use thanks to its quick shifting operation (the M2 could be among the last to use such a gearbox now that the M boys have gone soft with torque-converter autos in their latest creations). Thanks to a rear-drive chassis, it’s relatively easy to unsettle the car’s tail upon a moderate tap on the throttle. It’s a playful attitude that many driving enthusiasts have come to like, apart from the M2 already being highly agile to steer. Adding up to driving fun is the so-called MDM mode that allows drivers to enjoy wheel spins and control slides within a loosened safety net. Power from the 400hp-plus engine easily overwhelms the chassis in many real-world conditions recalling the old days of the E46-based M3. Yes, you don’t have to risk losing your license to have a good time in the M2 Competition. But if you like outright speed, it’s governed top speed will be attained with no sweat in the open, like in the Mustang. Despite being a compact coupe, the M2 manages to offer enough space for four without being inferior to both the Ford and AMG. The racy feel in the M2 Competition is enhanced with the usual quad exhausts, nice-looking 19-inch wheels, blown rear wheel arches and sumptuous amounts of carbon fibre trim in the cabin. Rivals are also tailored similarly, but it feels more pure in the Bimmer.
Possibly the biggest downside in the M2 Competition is the stiff ride where no adjustable dampers can be found. It’s quite bouncy over uneven road surfaces, even for driving purists. The obvious benefit, though, is good high-speed stability. Anybody liking to blast away in an unfussed manner might find the all-wheel drive system (and more comfortable riding chassis) in the C43 a boon. But that’s almost missing the point in a car designed for tail-waggling. And, surely, the M2 Competition can’t match the Mustang’s V8 for aural thrills. But, again, as a turbocharged inline-six, the noise sounds naturally mechanical and loud when provoked. Some people like that.
Buy or bye?
To answer the question posed earlier, making comparisons with the cheaper alternatives is quite invalid because each of these trio serve a different purpose and slightly varied audience. The Mustang appeals to enthusiasts liking its V8 and for what it is in a name; the C43 offers fast and easy manners for those not needing the full-fat AMG treatment; the M2 Competition serves up raw thrills for those seeking the joy of driving fun. And if you’ve already read about AMG’s latest CLA45 we've driven for the first time recently, Merc’s pocket rocket is still less involving to drive in comparison to the M2 Competition. What the M2 Competition has managed to really do for the first time is plug the gap between itself and that equally fine 718 Cayman in terms of driving enjoyment. That bi-turbo engine should have been available in the M2 all along its time.
BANGKOK, August 6 -- At least 500 security officials will be deployed to protect Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and keep the peace in his visit to Yala on Wednesday morning to open the new head office of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre.
Security officials on Tuesday rehearsed measures for maintaining security for Prayut trip to the new head office of the SBPAC, which is located in the heart of Yala. The visit to the restive southern border province will go ahead despite a series of bomb attacks in Bangkok that some have said could be linked to insurgents. The 500 police, soldiers and rangers will be deployed around the new SBPAC head office while the prime minister is chairing its opening ceremony. The SBPAC purchased the Chang Lee Hotel building from the Assets Management Committee to renovate as its new head office. The SBPAC spent Bt147.84 million for the procurement, below its estimated price of Bt225.48 million. After the opening ceremony, the prime minister is scheduled to visit the Yala Rubber Market, which also functions as a market for buying durians from local people, officials said.
BANGKOK, July 30 -- Citing concern for the health of General Prawit, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced that he will supervise the Royal Thai Police and chair the Police Commission himself.
Prayut was speaking to reporters after he officially took office as the concurrent defence minister by entering his office at the Defence Ministry. Prayut said he would supervise the national police force and head the Police Commission in lieu of his deputy, General Prawit Wongsuwan, because he has concerns over Prawit’s health. “I have concern for Prawit’s health. He has a very high level of determination for his other responsibilities,” Prayut said. He said Prawit has several other responsibilities, including national intelligence and the supervision of the National Security Council.
Prayut said he would screen promotions of both senior military and police officers that were nominated by their agencies, in order to ensure suitability. The prime minister said it was not certain whether he would also supervise the Department of Special Investigation, but he would make sure that all important tasks related to the DSI would get done. Prayut added that the DSI would also need to be reformed, as the agency may have too many police officers working for it. Regarding the military budget, Prayut said the military agencies may not get all of what they wanted because the government has limited money. But he insisted that the much-criticised procurement of submarines would not be cancelled. “The purchase must be made properly. There must be a committee to check it and make it transparent – and the issue is over,” Prayut said.
BANGKOK, July 26 -- The Bank of Thailand (BOT)’s latest measure to manage the inflow of foreign money should not affect long-term foreign investment in the country, BOT director of economic analysis Pornpen Sodsrichai said on Thursday.
"Our latest measure to prevent baht speculation by reducing the limit on the outstanding balance of non-resident baht accounts (NRBA) and non-resident baht accounts for Securities (NRBS) from Bt300 million to Bt200 million is focused on foreign investors who are speculators, but the BOT continues to welcome foreign investors seeking to expand investment in the country for the long term," said Pornpen. She added that the bank had taken the measure to cap non-resident accounts in response to an increase of foreign inflows in June that helped push up the baht. Pornpen said the BOT had plenty of measures in hand to manage the baht according to future developments, but would always leave room open for foreign individuals and organisations interested in expanding their long-term investment in Thailand.
Kobsit Silapachai, economic and capital markets research manager for Kasikorn Bank, said that following the BOT measure the baht had effectively weakened from Bt30.60 per US$ to Bt30.90. The measure to reduce currency speculation, especially in the bond market, was effective in reducing short-term foreign bond purchases from Bt120 billion to just over Bt80 billion. However, Kobsit forecast that the upward trend of the baht would continue this year. "I believe the baht will appreciate because, along with short-term investors the country also still has long-term investors who will drive up the baht till the end of this year," he said. Meanwhile, at its end-of-July meeting the US Federal Reserve is expected to cut the interest rate by 0.25 per cent, which should serve to weaken the dollar and perhaps cause a short-term impact on the baht, he said.
WASHINGTON, July 26 -- US President Donald Trump on Thursday did not condemn North Korea for launching two new short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.
Speaking to Fox News, Trump said North Korea has not tested missiles other than "smaller ones" and that he is getting along "very well" with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In his first reaction to the launches earlier Thursday, Mr Trump said, "They haven't done nuclear testing. They really haven't tested missiles other than you know smaller ones." The remarks came after the State Department urged Pyongyang to refrain from further provocations. "We urge no more provocations," department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said at a press briefing, as she expressed hope that the two sides will promote negotiations to address North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. "We want to have diplomatic engagement with the North Koreans," Ms Ortagus said. "We continue to press and hope for these working-level negotiations to move forward." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said separately that the door remains open for diplomacy with North Korea despite Thursday's launches, and that he hopes working-level talks will begin as early as August. "President Trump has been incredibly consistent here: We want diplomacy to work," Mr Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it." Mr Pompeo described the launches as more of a negotiating tactic than a move that would create a rupture or lead Mr Trump to reverse his commitment to talks with Mr Kim. "Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side," he said. "We remain convinced that there's a diplomatic way forward, a negotiated solution to this."
Thursday's launches came less than a month after Mr Trump and Mr Kim agreed to restart denuclearization talks that stalled after their meeting in February in Hanoi. In their talks on June 30 in the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, Mr Trump said he and Kim agreed to each designate a team to work out details. "What would be most productive is for chairman Kim and all his staff and for President Trump and his staff to continue upon the path that was laid out for us both in Vietnam and the DMZ, and that is a diplomatic resolution and the end of North Korea's nuclear weapons," Ms Ortagus said. She was referring to Kim's title as head of the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea. Ms Ortagus added that sanctions "will remain in effect" until the US achieves the goal of denuclearizing North Korea. The spokeswoman suggested Mr Pompeo is unlikely to hold talks with North Korean officials during his visit to Thailand next week for Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related foreign ministerial meetings. "There's no component to announce on the trip as it relates to North Korea," she said. "We don't have any announcements about meetings with North Koreans." Ms Ortagus declined comment on news reports that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has cancelled his attendance at the Asean Regional Forum, a 27-member security forum, slated for Aug 2 in Bangkok.
It has featured transgender women as showgirls from the beginning, and Alisa was always concerned about the mistreatment they receive from society. "Back then, our transgender showgirls were always perceived with prejudice. In a tourist town like Pattaya, our girls had to carry their staff ID card whenever they went out to protect themselves, to prevent people and the authorities from mistaking them for prostitutes. They were mistreated. And this affected us because, as the executives, we need to be able to take care of them both inside and outside the theatre," said Alisa. "I have always questioned why people have to take issue with someone's gender. And so the idea goes from just staff management to the point where we ask what we can also do about society. Miss Tiffany's Universe was then born to put transgender women in the spotlight."
After the pageant's inaugural year was successfully hosted at the theater, Alisa pushed for a live broadcast of the event in the following year to raise society's awareness about transgender women and their existence. The pageant was first broadcast nationally on ITV channel in 1999. There was no other stage for transgender women at the time. "It was a big hit, as it was something that has never happened before in the country. It really made a stamp that we were the real deal," Alisa recalled. "At the same time, it was very difficult to find sponsors because no one wanted to attach their products to people of the 'third gender'." Miss Tiffany's Universe continued to build its name in two decade-long stages. Alisa said she devoted the first 10 years of the pageant to make people understand who transgender women are, and how different they are from gay men. "And when we reached a certain point, people began to realise who we are and that our girls are gorgeous. But we also want to go beyond that simple acknowledgment. We spent the next 10 years opening doors and opportunities, to send a message that men, women and transgender people are all equally capable. It's not necessary at all to push transgender people to be only make-up artists and showgirls when they have the ability and the desire to do so many other things."
Prior to the show, we went backstage to meet some of this year's contestants. Each of them came to Miss Tiffany's with hopes and dreams, some of which were quite unexpected. Contestant No.16 Nutchuda Lumphun, 25, said she wishes to become a member of parliament to represent and develop her hometown in Nakhon Phanom province. "On my own, I'm just a small person. But now as one of the Top 30 contestants, I consider myself a success. And if I can go even further, I'll have a bigger voice to speak for my province," said Nutchuda, who works as an actress and MC. Contestant No.22 Sasipichaya Pakdee said she's also here in hopes of making her voice louder. Onstage, she publicly advocated a law that would allow transgender people to legally change their gender and title. This is her second time at the pageant.
BANGKOK, July 23 -- Racing team Scuderia Toro Rosso, part of the Red Bull Formula 1 network, will have the help of PTT Oil and Retail Business (OR) in supporting the Thai-British driver Alex Albon Ansusinha.
Jiraphon Kawswat, president and chief executive of OR, which sponsors Alex, and Matthew Strachan of Scuderia Toro Rosso made the announcement at PTT headquarters on Tuesday. Alex becomes the sole Thai national currently competing in Formula 1 and only the second Thai ever to have competed, the first being Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh, who gained global fame among racing fans as “Prince Bira” back in the 1950s. PTT Lubricants, an OR brand, has been sponsoring Alex since he started in Formula 2 last year. Thanks to outstanding performance, he’s been selected for Scuderia Toro Rosso’s F1 team this year. Jiraphon said OR hopes its sponsorship deal gives Alex the chance to show off his skills at the world’s leading racing events and put Thailand back on the global F1 map. “I’m really grateful to PTTOR and PTT Lubricants and look forward to representing them around the world,” Alex said. “To be able to count on their support moving forward is really significant and I’m relishing the chance to work closely with them in the future. I’m incredibly honoured and happy to welcome PTTOR to the Toro Rosso family.
Albon is currently in 12 position in the F1 standings after 10 of the 21 races for the season, scoring points in Bahrain (9th place 2 pts), China (10th place 1 pt) and Monaco (8th place 4 pts). His next race will be the German GP at on July 29-29. Jiraphon said OR aims to help earn Thai products recognition as global brands and has been supporting various national and international motorsport events, providing opportunities for Thai drivers to gain experience at high-profile competitions on the global stage. Events supported by OR include the Thailand Super Series and BRIC Superbike by PTT Station.
Since last year, OR and PTT have also been the main official sponsors of MotoGP, dubbed the world’s most challenging motorbike race and currently called PTT Thailand Grand Prix.