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EA keen on revenue from sustainable jet fuel

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SET-listed Energy Absolute (EA), a renewable energy and electric vehicle (EV) developer and operator, is developing a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) factory, hoping to create a new revenue source for the company.

EA joins Bangchak Corp Plc as both have plans to produce biofuel for aircraft.

Bangchak is building a 10-billion-baht SAF factory near its oil refinery in Bangkok’s Phra Khanong district.

EA’s wholly-owned EA Bio Innovation Co will operate the plant, scheduled to start production in the first quarter of next year, said Amorn Sapthaweekul, deputy chief executive of EA.

The facility, which is located in the eastern province of Rayong, has production capacity of 130 tonnes a day.

EA allocated a portion of its 2024 investment budget, totalling 14 billion baht, for construction of the facility.

SAF can replace jet fuel because their properties are similar, while the former has a smaller carbon footprint.

This type of biofuel, which can be made from used cooking oil and agricultural waste, produces up to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional jet fuel, according to media reports citing various forecasts.

EA plans to use used cooking oil and palm fatty acid, which comes from a biodiesel production process, as raw materials.

The company cannot use palm oil as a raw material because it is not accepted by aviation authorities.

Mr Amorn said many firms from the oil and aviation sectors talked with EA Bio Innovation about SAF purchases, but no agreements have been concluded yet.

The SAF production plan is expected to be partially responsible for EA increasing its revenue by 20% next year, he said.

A major source of revenue should come from sales of its electric buses, driven by the tourism recovery and demand from companies that offer a shuttle bus service to employees, Vittaya Changeutai, assistant vice-president of EA, said earlier.

The company announced in September it expects to earn more than 41 billion baht this year.

Some 46% of the revenue is projected from commercial EV and battery sales, followed by “clean” power generation (26%), biodiesel (22%), and other businesses (6%).

Cops arrest Bangladeshi migrants

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Seventy-three illegal Bangladeshi migrants have been arrested in the southern provinces of Songkhla and Phatthalung while being smuggled to work in Malaysia through Thailand.

The first arrests, jointly conducted by immigration and tourist police, occurred at an intersection on the southbound Asian Highway 2 in tambon Khuan Ru of Songkhla’s Rattaphum district, where a pickup truck was intercepted and searched at about 11pm on Tuesday.

The vehicle was found carrying 15 illegal migrants from Bangladesh, according to Pol Lt Col Phongsiri Phitak, a Songkhla immigration inspector, who led the operation. They were hidden under a tarpaulin.

The Bangladeshi migrants were detained, and the Thai driver, Saifa Chinnaket, 28, was arrested. He admitted the smuggling of the 15 illegal migrants from Chachoengsao to Songkhla for 2,000 baht per head.

In addition, the migrants paid 120,000 baht each to brokers to help them cross the border from Cambodia into Sa Kaeo in Thailand as a transit point for onward travel to Malaysia.

It was unclear how the migrants managed to travel from Bangladesh to Cambodia.

All were handed over to Rattaphum district police for questioning.

More arrests took place at a road checkpoint on the inbound Asian Highway in Khuan Khanun district of Phatthalung, where police, led by Pol Capt Chamnan Suwanchatree, deputy inspector of Highway Division 2’s Sub-division 7, searched three pickup trucks.

Police discovered 58 Bangladeshi migrants, including 26 women and seven children, hidden under a tarpaulin.

Police arrested the drivers and three other people in the vehicles.

The migrants told police that they had crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand, from where the brokers would take them to Malaysia. They also said their travel costs were covered by the brokers.

One of the drivers, identified only as Jirayut, 25, said he was paid to smuggle the migrants to Songkhla for 1,500 baht per head. However, they were arrested in Phatthalung before the journey was completed.

He previously drove another group of illegal migrants to Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Thailand boosts climate ambitions post-COP28

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Thailand has promised to increase efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions to mitigate the impacts of climate change following the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) recently held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking yesterday at a COP28 debriefing event, Phirun Saiyasitpanich, the chief of the Department of Climate Change and Environment, said that Thailand would change its carbon emissions target from 30% to 40% under a second version of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), a climate action plan.

He said Thailand had aimed to reduce up to 30% of carbon emissions under the first NDC (2021-2030), but through a second NDC, it will seek to reduce carbon emissions by 40%.

“We need to take a serious study based on social, environmental and economic impacts,” he said, adding that the new NDC will be completed by next year.

He said Thailand will continue its vigorous efforts to meet the long-term goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065.

Mr Phirun said that Thailand can do more if the country receives foreign financial support.

He further said that the country’s first-ever climate change bill will facilitate the country’s efforts to achieve its targets through carbon pricing to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill is expected to be submitted for parliament’s reading in the first quarter of next year.

He said COP28 had approved a Global Stocktake (GST) mechanism to monitor and report the actions taken by global communities to fight climate change.

The GST will also monitor how participating countries participate in limiting the rise of the world’s temperatures.

Mr Phirun added that the COP28 established a Loss and Damage Fund with an initial US$792 million budget to help vulnerable countries.

Environment Minister Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan also told the debriefing event that Thailand has affirmed its efforts to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in all economic sectors.

He said Thailand would do this by increasing its adaptation capacity and empowering its efforts to access financial mechanisms to achieve carbon neutrality targets, including promoting more public awareness on the issue.

Also at the event, Ernst Reichel, German ambassador to Thailand, said he appreciated Thailand’s efforts to deal with the climate change problems.

Mr Reichel said that Germany and Thailand are bilateral climate change partners, adding that his country will continue supporting Thailand’s transition to a green society.

COP28 was held from Nov 30 to Dec 12 and it is the world’s largest international climate conference so far.

Bill offers leniency for accidental bad cheques

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed its first reading of the government-sponsored bill seeking to decriminalise the writing of bad cheques except in fraud cases.

Addressing the chamber, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong said the bill to amend the Offences Arising from the Use of Cheques Act BE 2534 (1991) would prevent the use of criminal liability against individuals who unintentionally write bad cheques.

He said the proposed amendment was also in line with Section 77 of the constitution, which states that criminal penalties should be imposed on serious offences only.

Both government and opposition MPs spoke in favour of the proposal, saying the law was outdated.

They agreed that no one should be prosecuted under criminal law if they did not have dishonest intent.

Anucha Buraphachaisri, a list-MP from the United Thai Nation Party, said the current cheque law imposes a one-year jail term and/or a fine of up to 60,000 baht for writing a bad cheque.

He said while the law aims to boost people’s confidence in the use of cheques, there are many cases where cheques are not honoured due to financial difficulties rather than any criminal intent.

However, he said criminal prosecution should be maintained for check fraud to deter dishonest behaviour, and those who issue bad cheques with or without the intention to do so still face civil suits.

Thirajchai Phantumas, a Move Forward Party (MFP) MP for Bangkok, said he agreed in principle with the amendment, but noted that without appropriate measures to deal with bad cheques, the move could erode public confidence in the use of cheques altogether.

Mr Thirajchai said banks should be stringent in giving credit lines to customers and tighten scrutiny of cheque accounts.

Anusorn Iamsa-ad, a list-MP of the Pheu Thai Party, also supported the bill and said anyone who intends to commit fraud must face legal action.

Mr Anusorn said payments have already shifted to electronic transactions, making the old law anachronistic.

The MPs voted unanimously to accept the bill. A 25-member panel will further examine the bill. Provisional clauses in it stipulate that those detained for writing bad cheques should be released when the law takes effect.

Ireland takes UK to European court over 'Troubles' amnesty law

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DUBLIN – Ireland announced legal action on Wednesday against the UK government in the European Court of Human Rights over a law granting immunity to combatants in the Northern Ireland conflict.

The contentious legislation, passed by the UK parliament in September, creates a truth and recovery commission offering amnesty to British security personnel and paramilitaries if they cooperate with its enquiries.

It has been condemned by families of those who died during the three decades of violence over British rule in Northern Ireland, known as “the Troubles”, that began in the late 1960s.

All Northern Irish political parties and the Irish government in Dublin oppose the legislation, while Europe’s leading rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, has also expressed “serious concerns”.

Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin said Ireland had consistently argued the legislation is “not compatible” with Britain’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

“The decision by the British government… (to) pursue legislation unilaterally, without effective engagement with the legitimate concerns that we, and many others, raised left us with few options,” he said.

“The British government removed the political option, and has left us only this legal avenue.”

Martin added he had “used every opportunity to make my concerns known” and urged London to pause the legislation.

Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar told reporters in Dublin that the court would be asked to carry out a judicial review of the legislation.

“We informed the British government of that this morning.”

– Contentious –

Ireland will pursue the case in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which oversees the ECHR and is recognised by 46 states including Britain and Ireland.

Martin noted incorporating the convention into Northern Ireland law was a “specific and fundamental requirement” of the 1998 Good Friday peace accords.

That largely ended the Troubles, which saw more than 3,500 people killed.

Around 1,200 deaths from that time remain under investigation, according to the UK government.

Its law — formally called the UK Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 — has been welcomed by groups representing British veterans from the period.

They argue former soldiers have been subjected to unfair prosecutions.

Last year British soldier David Holden received a three-year suspended sentence for killing a man at a checkpoint in 1988, shooting him in the back.

Last week, a judge in Northern Ireland said “Soldier F” — the only British soldier charged over the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings of 13 civilians — would stand trial for murder.

But Ireland’s legal action will likely prove contentious in Britain, where the ECHR is increasingly attacked by right-wing elements within the ruling Conservatives.

They want Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to withdraw the country from the convention over protections it offers to refugees and asylum-seekers arriving in the UK.

The UK government’s Northern Ireland Office said it “profoundly regrets” the Irish government’s decision to “bring this unnecessary case against the UK”.

“The decision comes at a particularly sensitive time in Northern Ireland,” Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said in a statement.

“It did not need to be taken now, given the issues are already before the UK courts.”

Heaton-Harris said the UK government would “continue robustly” to defend the legislation.

“The overriding purpose of the Legacy Act is to enable more victims and survivors to obtain more information faster than can be achieved under current legacy mechanisms,” he said.

“We cannot afford further delay in the provision of effective legacy outcomes — both for families and wider society.”

Separatist Tuaregs announce blockade in northern Mali

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BAMAKO – Separatist Tuareg forces on Wednesday announced they had set up a blockade on the major roads in northern Mali, where the army has made inroads in recent weeks.

The Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), an alliance of rebel forces, said it had decided to set up roadblocks across all roads leading to northern borders with Mauritania, Algeria and Niger.

It would cover roads leading out of the cities of Menaka, Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu and Taoudeni, said the CSP statement.

This blockade would cover all products and all means of transport, the statement added.

The mainly Tuareg rebel forces have in recent weeks lost ground to a Malian army offensive that in mid-November led to their recapture of the northeast city of Kidal.

Fighting between the separatists and government troops broke again in August after eight years of calm, as both sides scrambled to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers.

The MINUSMA force packed up and left at the behest of Mali’s military rulers in Bamako, where the colonels seized power in 2020.

It was the army’s air power, including planes and drones, that helped make its recent gains against the rebel forces.

Mali’s army was also backed by mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner force, according to the rebels and local elected officials, but the regime denies the presence of the controversial private security group.

There have been accusations of atrocities committed against civilians during the recent offensive by Mali’s army and the Russian force, which the authorities have repeatedly denied.

Getting reliable information from the vast, northern part of Mali is extremely difficult because of its inaccessibility, lack of security and the muzzling of dissident voices there.

Trump cases thrust Supreme Court into US election fray

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WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court played a critical role in deciding the 2000 presidential election when it halted a vote recount in Florida with Republican George W. Bush holding a razor-thin edge over Democrat Al Gore.

The stage is set for the nation’s highest court to figure prominently again in a White House race as it mulls a pair of cases involving Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the former president had incited an insurrection — the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters — and was therefore ineligible to hold the office again.

The ruling is likely to end up in the Supreme Court, which is already considering whether to examine a claim by Trump’s lawyers that he has “absolute immunity” from prosecution for actions taken while he was in the White House.

The 77-year-old Trump is currently scheduled to go on trial in Washington in March on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

He faces similar election-related charges in Georgia and has been indicted in Florida for alleged mishandling of top secret documents after leaving the Oval Office.

– What’s next for Colorado case? –

The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, said Trump is “disqualified from holding the office of President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Section Three of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War, bars anyone from holding public office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” after once pledging to support and defend the Constitution.

The ruling, if it withstands Supreme Court review, would bar Trump from appearing on the ballot in the primary to be held in Colorado on March 5 to select the Republican Party’s nominee for the November 2024 election.

Colorado’s highest court issued a stay, or freeze, of its bombshell ruling until January 4 pending an expected appeal by Trump’s lawyers to the Supreme Court.

Steven Schwinn, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Illinois Chicago, said he expects the Supreme Court to intervene in a case he described as “uncharted territory.”

“The court needs to make a ruling so that Colorado and other states can decide whether they’re going to list Donald Trump on the ballot or not,” Schwinn said.

“The court’s going to have to act quickly on this and I expect that it will act quickly on this,” he said.

Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, noted that it is the first time that the 14th Amendment has been used to exclude a presidential candidate from the ballot.

Granting the Colorado case for review would force the Supreme Court to “step into the thorniest of political thickets,” Muller wrote on the Election Law Blog.

– What’s next for ‘immunity’ case? –

Special counsel Jack Smith has asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether the former president has immunity from prosecution for alleged crimes committed while in office.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is to preside over Trump’s election interference trial, rejected the immunity claim advanced by Trump’s lawyers.

“Defendant’s four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens,” Chutkan said.

Smith asked the Supreme Court to bypass the usual appeals court process and step in and quickly resolve the question itself.

The top court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices nominated by Trump, has yet to say whether it will hear the immunity case.

Trump’s lawyers, in a filing on Wednesday, urged the Supreme Court to hold off and let the case first go through the appeals court.

The question of whether a president has immunity should be “resolved in a cautious, deliberative manner — not at breakneck speed,” they said.

Schwinn said the Supreme Court, whenever it hears the case, is unlikely to side with Trump.

“At least a couple of the justices I think are predisposed to rule in Trump’s favor in some or all of these cases involving Trump,” he said.

“But I don’t really see the majority upholding his claim to immunity,” Schwinn said. “It’s just so far-fetched that I don’t even think this court will go for it.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the 91 felony charges facing him in the different cases and has denounced them as “election interference” by Biden and Democrats seeking to derail his White House campaign.

US and Venezuela swap prisoners, 'Fat Leonard' as tensions ease

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WASHINGTON – The United States released an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in exchange for 10 American detainees and a fugitive dubbed "Fat Leonard" in a sweeping prisoner swap deal between the rival governments on Wednesday.

US President Joe Biden made the “extremely difficult decision” to free Alex Saab, the onetime confidant of socialist leader Maduro, who is accused by the United States of money laundering for Caracas, US officials said.

Venezuela in return handed over a fugitive named Leonard Francis at the center of the US Navy’s worst ever corruption scandal, released 20 Venezuelan political prisoners and released the 10 US citizens.

Washington has been easing the pressure on the leftist Caracas government while it pushes for progress on democracy, agreeing in October to scale back oil and gas sanctions.

“Today, 10 Americans who have been detained in Venezuela have been released and are coming home,” Biden said in a statement, adding that he was “glad their ordeal is finally over.”

Biden told reporters separately that “it looks like Maduro, so far, is keeping his commitment on a free election” as agreed in the deal to lighten sanctions.

The deal was brokered by the Gulf state of Qatar, US officials added.

Maduro on his end hailed Saab’s release as “a triumph of truth,” and the ex-prisoner’s arrival home was broadcast live on local television.

Saab, who spoke at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas with Maduro at his side, thanked the Venezuelan leader and said that “today the miracle of freedom, the miracle of justice, has become a reality.”

– ‘Extremely difficult’ –

Saab, a Colombian national whom Maduro gave Venezuelan nationality and an ambassadorial title, was arrested in June 2020 on a stopover in Cape Verde and then extradited to the United States.

Saab and his business partner Alvaro Pulido are charged in the United States with running a network that exploited food aid destined for Venezuela, where millions have fled an economy that has been devastated, despite the nation’s oil wealth.

The pair are alleged to have moved $350 million out of Venezuela into accounts they controlled in the United States and elsewhere.

Maduro reacted furiously to Saab’s extradition, suspending talks with the US-backed opposition on ending the country’s political and economic crisis.

Biden “had to make the extremely difficult decision to offer something that the Venezuelan counterparts actively sought, and he made the decision to grant clemency to Alex Saab,” a senior US official said.

The official added that it was “essentially an exchange of 10 Americans and a fugitive from justice for one person returned to Venezuela.”

The White House named four of the freed Americans as Joseph Cristella, Eyvin Hernandez, Jerrel Kenemore and Savoi Wright.

Former US soldiers Luke Alexander Denman and Airan Berry, who were serving 20-year sentences for a botched armed invasion into Venezuela in 2020, were also among those freed, a Venezuelan rights group said.

– ‘Suckling pig’ –

Francis, the fugitive arrested and returned by Venezuela, was a military contractor known as “Fat Leonard” who escaped house arrest in California in September 2022 by cutting off his GPS tag.

Francis, a Malaysian national, pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering some $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers to steer official work to his shipyards, carrying out work on US vessels that prosecutors say he overcharged the Navy for to the tune of $35 million.

Francis bribed “scores” of US navy officials with gifts including “cash, prostitutes and luxury travel, and things like Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pig,” a senior US official said.

A prisoner exchange has long been in discussions as the United States switches strategy to engaging Maduro.

The United States, under Donald Trump, in 2019 declared Maduro to be illegitimate following allegations of election irregularities and launched a campaign through sanctions and pressure to remove him.

But Maduro withstood the pressure, holding on through support from a loyal political support base and the military as well as from Cuba, Russia and China.

The US dealings with Venezuela come despite separate concern over Maduro’s escalation of a long-simmering territorial dispute with Guyana over the oil-rich Essequibo region, although tensions eased last week.

The United States has been willing to trade high-profile prisoners for detained Americans, whose cases generate public sympathy.

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Central Pattana touts countdown events

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Property and retail developer Central Pattana Plc has teamed up with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to unveil Countdown 2024 events at CentralWorld and its 13 shopping centres across the country, aiming to encourage travel and boost retail spending.

Nattakit Tangpoonsinthana, chief marketing officer of Central Pattana, said the Bangkok Countdown 2024 event will take place at CentralWorld, while Thailand Countdown 2024 will be hosted at Central malls in 13 locations across the country: Phuket, Samui, Hat Yai, Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Ayutthaya, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Pattaya, Marina, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Westgate in Nonthaburi.

According to Mr Nattakit, the countdown events aim to stimulate the economy and tourism in both primary and secondary cities, and the company expects the countdown event from the Ratchaprasong intersection to generate over 300 million baht.

Apart from the TAT and the BMA, other key partners include the Royal Thai Police, the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association, Advanced Info Service, Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co, Coca-Cola (Thailand) Limited, Toyota Motor Thailand Co, General Card Services Limited and Chang International Co.

Mr Nattakit said the countdown events, which cost 500 million baht, will run from 4.30pm to 12.30am, featuring seven entertainment highlights with globally acclaimed artists such as Young Jae Got 7 and Patrick Nattawat Finkler, an emerging star known for his role in a top boy band in China.

Chinese tourists, along with visitors from Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, India and the Middle East, have been gradually returning to Thailand.

The exclusive show at CentralWorld, showcasing over 200 artists from across the country, promises a festive atmosphere to ring in the New Year nationwide. The lineup of artists for this year’s countdown includes Oat Pramote, Pop Pongkool, TIGGER, Alala, PSYCHIC FEVER, bamm, bXd, DVI, PERSES, QRRA and Three Man Down.

“The Bangkok and Thailand Countdown 2024 events, at CentralWorld and 13 other Central shopping centres nationwide, aim to stimulate the economy, ignite tourism and welcome global travellers in the final quarter of 2023, creating a festive atmosphere and encouraging travel,” Mr Nattakit said.

CPN has been at the forefront of countdown events for 23 years in the heart of Ratchaprasong. All hotels in the area are now fully booked, and the company anticipates 250,000 participants in the CentralWorld Bangkok Countdown 2024, with foreign tourists accounting for 25%.

“We are proud to present the country’s most anticipated countdown landmark. Our goal is to make CentralWorld’s countdown the most enjoyable and festive, resembling a global music festival,” Mr Nattakit said, emphasising the company’s readiness to showcase the festival among Thailand’s soft power promotion on the global stage.

“We aim to stimulate the year-end tourism atmosphere, boosting the economy. Soft power is about gaining global acceptance and the CentralWorld Bangkok Countdown 2024 is a significant contributor to achieving that goal,” said Mr Nattakit.

The TAT forecasts tourism expenditure during the New Year festival will reach 54.4 billion baht, an increase of 44% compared to the same period last year.

TAT governor Thapanee Kiatphaibool said international receipts during the 11 days between Dec 22, 2023 and Jan 1, 2024 would reach 41.7 billion baht, up 60% from last year, from 1.18 million tourists, marking a growth of 56%.

Thai travellers are expected to take 3.75 million trips, growing 10%, and generate 12.7 billion baht, up by 11% from the same period last year.

This year, the agency will host and support 14 countdown events across all regions, with highlights such as the Amazing Thailand Countdown 2024 with the Temple of Dawn as the backdrop.

Christmas parades in Sakon Nakhon

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Until Christmas Day, the charming traditions of the Ban Tha Rae community in Sakon Nakhon will honour Jesus Christ's starry natal night.

Tomorrow at 6pm, Catholics will showcase their artistic talents to create a floating procession that will light up Tha Rae pier and allow visitors to travel back to 1884 when a French missionary and Vietnamese families settled down on the banks of Nong Han Lake.

In recognition of being the largest Roman Catholic community in Thailand, more than 20 parades adorned with sparkling stars will march through the village on Saturday night to St Michael’s Church.

On Christmas Eve, visitors can enjoy paper star-making workshops and a walking street selling local food and festive handicrafts. Around 200 Christmas Star parades from churches in Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan and Kalasin will take to the streets on Christmas Day and end at Saint Joseph Sakon Nakhon School.

Visit facebook.com/Tatnakhonphanomfanpage.

New Taipei City to host Christmasland

Until Jan 1, Christmasland in New Taipei City is hosting a festive celebration with Santa Bear and his friends Robbie, Gingerbread Man, Snowman, Chocobi and Macaron. This year, the massive Christmas tree is covered in colourful fondant desserts and light decorations to create an inviting atmosphere.

Glittering light installations will illuminate the streets and public areas under the themes of “Sweet Xmas Party”, “Sweets Town”, “Lan Lan Cat Sweet Xmas Party” and “Gingerbread World”. Visitors will be greeted with an internationally acclaimed 3D projection mapping show, which fuses cutting-edge 3D projection technology that can be seen with the naked eye with a grid of Santa Bear-shaped light bars to offer a high-quality immersive experience.

During the opening scene, the motionless Santa Bear film will be on display on a façade of New Taipei City Hall and come to life thanks to a laser beam scan. It will greet the crowd with a range of goofy expressions and accompany Gingerbread Man in telling stories.

The 2nd floor corridor of New Taipei City Hall has a dynamic performance created by Santa Bear-shaped LED strips. The customised animated scenes are synced with the joyful motions of Santa Bear.

Visit christmasland.ntpc.gov.tw.

Mark New Year with Mahanakhon Festive Carnival

To brighten the mood throughout the holiday season, King Power Mahanakhon is organising the Mahanakhon Festive Carnival until Jan 1, set against the breathtaking background of Bangkok’s skyscrapers.

Mahanakhon Square is a wonderful playground where people of all ages may enjoy fun activities like ping pong, shooting, ball throwing and ring tossing. Fancy food trucks offer up a range of festive treats, such as mini pizzas, banh mi, ice cream and refreshing drinks for light meals.

Tomorrow night and Dec 29, visitors can groove to the tunes of live music performances from 5-9pm, while a group of talented DJs will throw a party on Saturday and Sunday.

On the 74th floor, a massive Christmas tree sits in the centre of the Indoor Observatory, leading tourists to the Mahanakhon SkyWalk. On the 78th floor, visitors can put themselves to the test by taking selfies at 310m against the background of Bangkok’s horizon while standing on a magnificent glass floor.

Additionally, guests will get a free Christmas present from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Partygoers at Mahanakhon SkyWalk will be treated to a performance by Kaimook J on Dec 31 and well-known singer Tom Isara will take the stage on Jan 1.

Visit facebook.com/kingpowermahanakhon.