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Bangkok’s revamped Khaosan Road may reopen in August, without international tourists

Maya Taylor

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Bangkok’s revamped Khaosan Road may reopen in August, without international tourists | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Evan Krause on Unsplash

Bangkok’s Khaosan Road, for decades a pilgrimage for backpackers from all over the world, looks set to reopen in August. A well-loved tourist mecca for browsing, eating and night life, the thoroughfare has undergone a revamp during lock-down, and now boasts a new road surface, traffic barriers and newly-planted trees.

Similar work is planned for the city’s Kraisi, Rambuttri and Tani roads, which are all nearby. Deputy Bangkok governor, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, says contractors are still required to carry out the work, which is expected to cost in the region of 44.5 million baht or US$1.4 million. He confirms Khaosan’s makeover is nearly finished and the road should be ready to reopen in August.

However, his repeated (and controversial) attempts to remove street vendors from Khaosan have so far failed, although vendors have yet to be chosen to set up their stalls on the street. Sakoltee says some parts of Khaosan and neighbouring roads won’t have space for street vendors, due to an increase in trees and recreational spaces.

His overhaul of Khaosan has been praised in some quarters, by those who believe the revamp was long overdue. However, others say it will destroy the unique character and atmosphere that (in normal times) draws travellers from around the world.

Meanwhile, a report in Coconuts says Yada Pornpetrumpa from the Khaosan Road Vendors Association says the organisation plans to meet with city officials at the end of this month, in order to discuss the street vendors’ plight, but adds that she does not expect a list of approved traders to be ready by then.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Protests

UPDATE: Thai singer “Ammy” arrested for allegedly setting fire to royal portrait

Maya Taylor

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UPDATE: Thai singer “Ammy” arrested for allegedly setting fire to royal portrait | The Thaiger

UPDATE: A popular Thai singer from the band Bottom Blues was arrested in Ayutthaya on lèse majesté charges for allegedly setting a portrait of HM the King on fire. Yesterday, the Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for those suspected of burning a portrait of HM the King outside a Bangkok prison on Sunday. Police earlier denied arresting the singer, Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka“Ammy.”

Police say the singer was arrested in a rented room at around 12:40am this morning. He told police was sick and requested to be taken to the hospital.

Ammy wrote a post on his Facebook page confessing to burning the royal portrait, saying he is ashamed and disappointed in himself and it was a foolish idea that put him in danger. He adds that there is a hidden, symbolic meaning being the burning of the portrait and he hopes everyone understands it.

Original story…

The Metropolitan Police Bureau has denied reports that the Thai musician and anti-government activist, Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka, “Ammy” has been arrested. The musician and 2 other people are suspected of setting fire to a portrait of His Majesty the King. The Bangkok Post reports that his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Piya Tawichai from the MPB says there is no record of the musician being taken into custody. He was responding to local media reports that Chai-amorn had been arrested.

“We haven’t received any report that Mr Chai-amorn was arrested or put in police custody.”

Chai-amorn and 2 others face charges of lèse majesté, arson, and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. They are suspected of setting fire to a portrait of His Majesty the King outside Klongprem Central Prison in the Chatuchak district of Bangkok in the early hours of Sunday morning. They also face charges of damaging state property.

It’s understood officers conducted a search for the musician yesterday, following the Criminal Court’s approval of arrest warrants for the 3 suspects. Piya says the MPB has sufficient evidence to back up the charges, including CCTV footage at the scene of the crime. It’s reported that Chai-amorn got out of a vehicle in order to set fire to the portrait, while the other 2 suspects remained in the car.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

PM defends measures used against Sunday protesters

Maya Taylor

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PM defends measures used against Sunday protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence at the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, King’s Guard. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards.

“I insist the crowd-control measures were in accordance with international standards and police did not violate the protesters’ rights.”

The PM has also criticised some media outlets for their reporting of the rally, claiming they only focused on officers’ use of force against protesters. 33 people were injured at the rally – 23 police officers and 10 protesters. One police officer, named in a Bangkok Post report as Wiwat Sinprasert, died of heart failure. 22 protesters have been arrested, 4 of whom are minors who will have their cases heard in the Central Juvenile and Family Court.

Phukphong Phongpetra from the MPB says the use of rubber bullets was necessary in order to stop things getting out of control. He says protesters also gathered outside Din Daeng and Suthisarn police stations, where they set fire to police cars. He claims 90 officers were injured in the clashes, with 27 receiving hospital treatment.

National police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk says the measures used by police were not aimed at dispersing protesters, but rather to arrest anyone using violence against officers. He claims this latest protest was different to others, in that some activists kicked things off by attacking police officers.

“We’ve discussed it several times that we will enforce the laws where necessary. If the protesters didn’t harm officers or destroy barriers, we wouldn’t have had to act. And the protesters, they were unable to control each other.”

Opposition politicians have slammed the measures used against protesters, with Rangsiman Rome from the Move Forward Party claiming police fired rubber bullets at random and not at any particular targets.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1 | The Thaiger

Coming up today… the fallout from yesterday’s latest protest violence in Bangkok, the first vaccine in Thailand who got it, and a major drug haul along the Mekong.

But first we’ll start up north where Lampang Province is joining other northern provinces todday by putting a total fire ban in place from today, March 1, until the end of April. Chiang Mai also started a ban on all deliberately lit fires from today and Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, already has one in place.

The bans are timely after a horrid weekend of air pollution in many of Thailand’s provinces over the long weekend, even as far south as the tourist destination of Phuket where visibility was down to about 1 kilometre and the smell of smoke was noticeable.

Whilst up in the north… 4 Thai women were arrested at a security checkpoint in Tak’s Mae Sot district after they illegally crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Illegal casinos and fancy hi-so massage parlours in Myanmar in areas near the border, have attracted wealthy Thais and Burmese. The establishments have also attracted plenty of Thais looking for well-paid work across the border.

In a major bust along the Mekong River, a notorious hotzone for drug trafficking, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Now to the weekend violence as the protests resume where they left off last year…

At least 22 people were arrested during the major Bangkok protest yesterday. It turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the Thai PM’s residence. It’s been reported that one officer died during the rally, reportedly due to heart failure.

At least 33 people were injured… that includes 23 police officers. The clashes happened in front of 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and involved around 1,500-2,000 activists from the Restart Democracy movement, part of the Free Youth group. The group has been protesting against the government and calling for reform of the country’s constitution and monarchy since protests began in July of last year.

And Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who received the first of China’s Sinovac vaccine yesterday. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the PM’s injection was postponed.

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