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Purchasing land in Thailand using Thai nominees is a fairly common loophole used by law firms and foreigners to skirt existing Thai laws.

But just because it’s is sometimes a successful means for foreigners to acquire land in the Kingdom, doesn’t mean that the practice of purchasing land or owning businesses using Thai nominees is legal.

There are actually two laws currently on the book in Thailand that prohibit the ownership of land by non-Thai citizens without going through the proper channels: the Foreign Business Act and Thailand Land Code.

Recently, DFDL Thailand Legal and Tax, a prominent Thai law firm, saw four of their offices raided across Thailand for facilitating the purchase of land by foreigners using Thai nominees as sponsors, highlighting the dangers of such deals. DFDL was fined 2 billion baht.

The move by Thai authorities was widely seen as another attempt at cracking down on firms who use Thai nominees to purchase land.

For more info on nominee land purchase in Thailand, watch the video below:

Nominee Land Purchase in Thailand: Overview and History - YouTube

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According to homeless charities across Thailand, there are an increasing amount of westerners living homeless in the Southeast Asian country.

One organization, The Issarachon Foundation, estimates that over 200 westerners living in Thailand are homeless compared to about 30,000 homeless Thais.

For Thais experiencing homeless, however, the bulk of the problem stems from mental health issues. As for the westerners, their state of homelessness mostly can be blamed on alcohol problems.

As well as having to sleep on the country’s streets and beautiful beaches, many homeless westerners have to beg for money and scrounge for leftover food in order to get by.

It’s also doubly hard for westerners suffering from homelessness in Thailand, considering they have little avenues of respite in terms of welfare and other basic support.

Read the full story here.

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The extremely popular weekend night market JJ Green will permanently close on September 13th.

The night market, known formally as Chatuchak Green, opened four years ago and has become a famous nighttime hangout spot and destination for cheap vintage goods and clothing.

The vendors who are operating on the state-owned land are being forced to shut down in order to for the Thai government to start construction on uniting Wachirabenchathat Park, Queen Sirikit Park, and Chatuchak Park into one massive park.

The closure to JJ Green is yet another hit to the Thai capital’s reputation as a hub for cheap used products and street food.

Read the full story here.

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Amnesty International has joined other rights groups–including Human Rights Watch–in calling for the United Nations to institute an outright international ban on the use of “killer robots”, which they define as fully autonomous weapons systems.

“Killer robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction,” Rasha Abdul Rahim, a researcher on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights at Amnesty International said. “From artificially intelligent drones to automated guns that can choose their own targets, technological advances in weaponry are far outpacing international law.”

The prominent rights group is pushing countries to formulate a plan and start taking action at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting taking place from August 27-31 in Geneva.

According to Amnesty’s plea to the UN, a majority of the states at the last CCW meeting in April argued for retaining human control over weaponry and the use of forces, as well as offering support to international laws banning the use of lethal autonomous weapons systems.

But a laundry list of powerful nations opposed any legally binding limitations placed on the use of autonomous weaponry, many of whom already develop and deploy lethal autonomous robots, including France, Israel, the US, Russia, and the UK.

Amnesty and other rights groups pushing the ban argue that fully autonomous weapons will not be able to comply with international law with the full range of complex decision making as humans.

They warn that killer machines will not be able to “analyse the intentions behind people’s actions, to assess and respond to often dynamic and unpredictable situations, or make complex decisions about the proportionality or necessity of an attack.”

They are also cautioning states at the UN against using autonomous weapons for not only the battlefield but also in law enforcement.

“The use of fully autonomous weapons in law enforcement without effective and meaningful human control would be incompatible with international human rights law, and could lead to unlawful killings, injuries and other violations of human rights. We are calling on states to take concrete steps to halt the spread of these dangerous weapons, both on the streets and on the battlefield, before it’s too late.”

Read the full story here.

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Thailand’s ruling military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), have charged the popular leader of Thailand’s progressive Future Forward Party under the country’s draconian Computer Crimes Act, which could lead to up to five years in prison.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a billionaire rising politician, and two of his Future Forward party-mates are being prosecuted under the section that forbids transmitting false information or information that damages the country’s stability online.

The Future Forward Party and Thanathorn, in particular, have garnered widespread popularity thanks to their social media presence and Facebook Live discussions that routinely criticize the junta.

Despite the Computer Crimes Act being used to stifle dissent regularly in the recent past and the stiff penalties it carries, Thanahtorn has promised to keep criticizing the ruling government, saying that it is the right of all citizens in a democratic country.

The exact charges that Thanathorn and his colleagues might face are believed stem from the party’s attempt to sway other prominent politicians and former PMs to join the Future Forward Party.

Read the full story here.

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As Myanmar transitions from a closed-off country to one that is ready to welcome a huge influx of tourists, a recent report says that the Southeast Asian nation is ill-prepared to handle the flocking vacationers.

The report, carried out by the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, argues for a tourism strategy that aims at drawing in higher-income tourists rather than the current strategy of simply trying to attract as many travelers as possible.

In 2018, the Myanmar government is targeting 4.5 million tourists for the year, which is five times more than the country had in 2013.

With a massive influx of that size, it is possible that Myanmar will suffer the fate of many other Southeast Asian tourist destinations that have a wealth of tourists, but also hordes of sex tourists and drunken backpackers.

Those tourists who attract more of a sleazy, party vibe could severely dampen Myanmar’s traditional Buddhist culture that was closed off from the rest of the world helped preserve.

As of now, prostitution and nightlife in the country are almost non-existent other than a few scattered areas.

Meeting the demands of sex tourists in an ethical and regulated way is paramount in Myanmar where poverty is extremely common, according to the report and other rights groups.

Read the full story here.

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A Thailand law firm that specializes in land purchasing and investment advisory, has had four of its locations raided by police for allowing its foreign clients to purchase land and real estate by using Thai nominees.

Under Thailand land law (Act Promulgating the Land Code, B.E. 2497 and the Foreign Business Act), foreigners are not allowed to purchase land or real estate in the kingdom.

But for a long time, foreigners have used Thai nominees to stand in as the largest shareholders of the land in order to make the purchase. Recently though, Thai authorities have made it a huge priority to crack down on this often used Thai sponsor loophole.

The raided firm, DFDL Thailand Legal and Tax, have helped facilitate land purchases for foreigners amounting to almost 2 billion baht.

Read the full story here.

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The US Federal Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to a London-based startup to begin drug trials using psilocybin, the main active psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, to treat depression.

The startup, Compass Pathways, funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, is on the forefront of research into psycadelic substances and their potential medicinal uses. The UK, Netherlands, and Canada have already begun drug trials for psyilocibin to treat depression.

The trial will include 216 patients suffering from depression across North America and Europe.

“Depression is the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide, and treatment-resistant depression affects more than 100 million people. It is a huge unmet need and the trial will teach us more about how this new approach might address it,” said George Goldsmith, co-founder of Compass Pathways.

And there is ample reason why many scientists believe that psilocybin and other psychedelic substances could help patients beat depression, considering the drugs are known to help reroute and reset neural pathways–a potentially huge benefit to sufferers of depression who oftentimes are caught in destructive patterns of thinking.

But Compass Pathways warn that the treatments won’t be merely giving patients psilocybin and hoping they get better. In reality, the trial will engage in psilocybin therapy, which pairs the psychoactive substance with psychological support from trained professionals.

Read the full story here.

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A Belarusian escort and model facing charges for solicitation in Pattaya, says she will no longer provide evidence she claimed to have of Trump-Russian collusion during the 2016 United States presidential election.

Anastasia Vashukevich and seven other alleged sex workers face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Vashukevich claimed that she handed over audio recordings to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin.

She said the recordings provide direct proof of Russian meddling in the US election in order to get Trumped elected.

According to Vashukevich, Deripaska promised her something in return for her silence on the matter.

Vashukevich and the seven co-defendants are being charged with putting on a sex training seminar that authorities claim featured sexual intercourse and arranging other people to have sex, which is illegal under Thai law.

The organizer, Alexander Kirillov, said the seminar was totally based on the art of seduction and how to pick-up girls and did not feature any sexual acts whatsoever.

Read the full story here.

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Beginning on May 1, 2018, residential property leasing will be considered a “contract-controlled business”. This means that the Contract Committee of the Consumer Protection Board, established by the Consumer Protection Act B.E. 2522 (1979) in order to further protect consumers against unfair contract terms, will be able to regulate “residential property leasing businesses”.

According to the “The Stipulation of Residential Property Leasing as a Contract-Controlled Business B.E. 2561 (2018)” issued by the Contract Committee, “residential property leasing businesses are any businesses that leases (or subleases) five or more property units to individual lessees. Property is defined to include any kind of residential accommodation, including apartments, condos, flats, or houses. Dormitories, guesthouses, hostels, and hotels are regulated under separate statutes.
The new stipulation handed down by the Contract Committee lays out the following requirements for residential property leasing businesses:
1. Residential lease agreements must include a Thai version, as well as the following:
a) Name and address of the business operator
b) Name and address of the lessee
c) Name and location of the property
d) The property’s physical condition, along with a list of the items and equipment inside
e) Clear lease terms, including the start and expiry of the lease
f) Rental fees, due dates, and payments
g) Utility fees and due dates
h) Reasonable service fee rates that are actually tied to the costs of the services, and due dates
i) Other fees that must be reasonable, and due dates
j) Amount of the security deposit
2. Invoices for fees must be sent to the lessee seven days before payment due date
3. Lessee inspection and acknowledgment of the physical condition of the residence as well as the items and equipment must be attached to the lease agreement, with duplicate given to the lessee
4. Security Deposit must be given to the lessee immediately after the expiry of the lease agreement and the business operator has inspected for any damage. If no damage has been caused by the lessee, the operator has seven days to return the deposit.
5. The lessee is afforded the right to cancel the lease agreement early as long as he or she gives 30 days advance written notice to the business operator.
6. Any stipulations that allow the business operator to terminate the contract early must be written in bold, italic, or red letters. If the lessee breaches one of the stipulations, the business operator must give him or her 30 days to rectify the breach before terminating the contract.
7. The lease agreement must be printed out and duplicated for the lessee.
8. Any lease agreement that does not contain the required above terms will be interpreted to have them included as implied terms of the lease.
9. Residential lease contracts must not include the following:
a) Any waiver or limitation removing the liability of a business operator who breaches the agreements or acts wrongly
b) Any advance rental fee more than one month’s rent
c) Any terms allowing the business owner to alter the rental rates or rates of any other fees before the lease agreement ends
d) Any security deposit more than one month’s rent
e) Any terms allowing the operator to unreasonably seize the security deposit or advance rent
f) Any terms allowing the residential owner to inspect the property without notifying the lessee ahead of time
g) Any terms that charge more for electricity or water fees that exceed the rates of the relevant authorities
h) Any stipulations that allow the property owner to prevent the lessee from entering the residence or any terms allowing the owner to seize the lessee’s belongings
i) Any fees for renewing the lease
j) Any terms allowing the owner to terminate the lease early other than material breaches by the lessee
k) Any terms that hold the lessee liable for normal wear and tear of the property and its items or equipment
l) Any terms that that hold the lessee liable for damages to the property that was not the lessee’s fault
m) Any terms that hold the lessee liable for defects to the property or equipment through normal wear and tear usage
n) Any lease agreements including any of these terms will be interpreted as not having them included
10. Any residential business operator who doesn’t follow the listed guidelines could face a jail term not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding 100,000 baht
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