BANGKOK—Uber Technologies Inc. is breaking into motorcycle bookings, taking its battle to win over users in Southeast Asia to the traffic-clogged streets of Bangkok.
Beginning Wednesday, users in select parts of the Thai capital will be able to open the firm’s app and summon a motorcycle driver, who will pick them up and ferry them to their destinations. The service, dubbed UberMOTO, allows riders to pay with cash or credit cards, with fares beginning at 10 Thai baht (28 U.S. cents).
Motorcycle taxis are popular in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia because of their low cost and their ability to cut between lanes of traffic, making it easier to navigate through gridlock.
Uber’s offering comes amid growing popularity of rivals’ motorbike-booking services in Southeast Asia. The company’s main competitor in the region, Singapore-based ride-hailing app Grab, in 2014 launched a motorbike service in nearby Vietnam. It is also available in Thailand, the Philippines in Indonesia. Grab doesn’t disclose its number of users but says its app has been downloaded more than 11 million times, up from 4.8 million in June.
Thailand’s prime minister urged the main suspect in the bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok this week to turn himself in, while police released a sketch of the alleged bomber and described him for the first time as a foreigner.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s remarks on Wednesday also acknowledged that the investigators were attempting to track down a wider-ranging network that they say is responsible for Monday’s blast at a shrine in the center of the city.
Meanwhile, inserted above and on YouTube here: an embeddable version of the dash cam footage showing the blast.
Thai police said they were homing in on a suspect seen in security-camera footage of the bomb blast that killed at least 20 people, most of them foreign tourists, in the Thai capital.
A second explosive device on Tuesday was thrown from a bridge over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. The bomb narrowly missed a busy pier where commuters waited for taxi boats, falling into the river where it exploded. No one was injured.
The blast, which threw a column of water into the air, deepened the sense of unease in a city where many commuters chose to stay at home and some tourists avoided the usually bustling malls and temples of downtown Bangkok.
Low-level political violence is not uncommon in Thailand—which is riven by a kind of class war in which two military coups have succeeded in less than ten years—but the attack on August 17th was unprecedented in scale. The blast, caused by a pipe stuffed with TNT, did only relatively moderate damage to the shrine itself and the buildings that surround it. But timed to explode during the evening rush hour, and positioned at an intersection often packed with shoppers and tourists, it was designed to kill and maim a maximal number of bystanders. The dead included visitors from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. A young girl was among the injured.
Since early May, more than 4,600 boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh have been brought ashore from Southeast Asian waters. Several thousand more are believed to still be at sea after human smugglers abandoned their boats amid a regional crackdown.
Some are Bangladeshis who left their impoverished homeland in hope of finding jobs abroad. But many are Rohingya Muslims who have fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which has denied them basic rights, including citizenship, and confined more than 100,000 to camps. There are more than one million Rohingya living in the country formerly known as Burma.
Bangkok airport, the gateway to South-East Asia, is a thriving, bustling hub of excitement and anticipation, of pale arrivals to tanned departures and everything in between. BBC Three has gained unparalleled access to all aspects of the airport in this thrilling six-part series which sees young Brits passing through to embark on adventures of a lifetime. Each episode follows some of the thousands of youth British travellers checking in and checking out, run-ins with the tourist police, incidents in immigration, customs, treatment at the on-site medical centre, missed flights, expired passports and emergencies abroad. The action takes place inside and occasionally outside the airport – at island trouble spots and the British Embassy in downtown Bangkok. And in a unique twist, contributors’ UGC (user generated content) will be used alongside fly-on-the-wall docusoap content. Bangkok Airport is made by Keo Films. It is series produced by Fiona Inskip and executive produced by Paula Trafford. BBC commissioning editor is Sam Bickley.
Asset disclosures by members of Thailand’s military-dominated post-coup Cabinet reveal they are quite well-off, a trait shared with the civilian politicians they accused of corruption.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission on Friday released the asset declarations of the 33 Cabinet ministers, 25 of whom are millionaires in dollar terms.
Allegations of corruption and inappropriately gained wealth have played a major role in the country’s fractious politics in the last decade. The current government has made fighting corruption a priority, though its critics believe the policy is being wielded mainly as a weapon against its political rivals, particularly those connected to the elected government it ousted.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army commander led a May coup d’etat, listed 128.6 million baht ($3.9 million) in assets and 654,745 baht ($20,000) in liabilities. Under the disclosure laws, assets belonging to spouses and children under 21 must be included. He also reported the transfer of 466.5 million baht ($14.3 million) to other family members.
Before his retirement at the end of September, the general received a 1.4 million baht ($43,000) annual salary as army chief. His assets include a Mercedes Benz S600L car, a BMW 740Li Series sedan, luxury watches, rings and several pistols.