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Bangkok temple ordered to stop handouts due to huge queues

Jack Burton

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Bangkok temple ordered to stop handouts due to huge queues | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Richard Barrow
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Local authorities in Bangkok have ordered local temple Wat Don Mueang to temporarily stop giving away food and water, as queues have grown to over a thousand and pictures have gone viral on social media, raising concerns over social distancing, according to the Bangkok Post and Bangkok radio station Jor Sor 100.

Photos of people gathered along Song Prapha Road for up to a kilometre went viral showing what appeared to be well over a thousand people in line for food and water being offered by the temple. The order comes as Thailand’s Supreme Patriarch asks temples across the nation to help those in need during the pandemic, which has led to hundreds, or in some cases thousands, lining up at temples for free food and water.

Millions of Thais are out of work due to closures and restrictions under the national state of emergency declared due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” businesses across the country closed as part of the plan to reduce the spread of the virus. The government has said they are meeting and discussing loosening restrictions later this month, and that they understand the peoples’ plight, but they must be cautious in any reopening of the economy to avoid a second wave.

Bangkok temple ordered to stop handouts due to huge queues | News by The Thaiger

Responding to massive online criticism for stopping the donations, an official in Don Mueang told reporters the closure was temporary while officials worked with the temple on proper social distancing procedures, and was not meant to stop people receiving food from charity organisations.

In Pattaya lines are reaching similar levels leading to growing calls to reopen the economy and local businesses, even on a gradual basis and with proper social distancing measures.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Bangkok

Pro-democracy movement raises issues on LGBT and women’s rights

Caitlin Ashworth

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Pro-democracy movement raises issues on LGBT and women’s rights | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

The pro-democracy movement is now sheading light on issues on gender equality and LGBT rights in Thailand. Some people at the September 19 rally in Bangkok were collecting signatures calling on the decriminalisation of abortion and prostitution. Even a booth called “Pussy Gallery” was set up where people could draw colourful vaginas, raising awareness that the colour does not value a woman.

Since a large rally in July, activists have been calling on an end to the military run government and demanding a rewrite of the constitution. The New York Times reports that young women are at the frontlines of the protests, some raising issues like abortion and taxes on menstrual products as well as outdated rules for girls at Thai schools.

A Times reporter spoke to female student involved in the political movement who said “The monarchy and the military have all the power in Thailand… I shouldn’t be afraid to say that men have almost all the power in Thailand.”

In the past, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha brushed off talk of gender equality. In 2016, before he became prime minister, the retired general said “Everyone says that we have to create justice, women and men have equal rights … Thai society will deteriorate if you think that way.” He went on to say “Outside the house, we (men) are big … At work, we (men) have the power.”

The Times reports women only occupy 14% of seats in parliament. Before the 2014 military coup, they only occupied 5%. The nation’s top military school and the Royal Thai Police Academy do not accept women.

Along with the Pussy Gallery at the September 19 rally, another booth encouraged participants to paint sanitary menstrual pads to send the message that a woman’s period is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. The pads were also given away for free as a protest against the tax on menstruation products.

Gender equality and LGBT rights activist Chumaporn “Waddao” Taengkliang gave a speech at the rally and said there are stereotypes, harassment and injustice in Thai society that exclude both woman and LGBT people from the right they deserve. Waddao says in Thai media, LGBT people are often portrayed as comic relief.

Winner of Drag Race Thailand Season 2, Angele Anang, was also seen at the rally. Angele says Thailand needs LGBT rights, like same-sex marriage.

“This government is no longer legitimate. They have not provided justice to everyone, whether you are an LGBT person, or whether you are a woman. They are not transparent in every aspect, such as the budget. I am here to be a part to tell them what we want.”

Pro-democracy movement raises issues on LGBT and women's rights | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES:New York Times | Prachatai English

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Bangkok

Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sanook

Around 10 people were hospitalised after a chemical tank spilled at a village in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok. Those near the spill reported feeling nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Officials do not known what chemical was in the tank.

The 1 metre tank had been taken to the woods by 2 employees at a Bangphli Niwet Village second hand shop who hoped they could take it apart and sell the scrap metal. The 2 employees fainted when the tank spilled. Trees and grass in a 100 metre radius of the chemical spill died.

The chemical let off a strong odour and Thai media says the fumes spread to the village. Those at the second hand shop, close by to the chemical spill, started to feel nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Some people reported skin rashes after the incident. Around 10 villagers, including children, were sent to hospital.

Thai media says police secured the area and sprayed water into the air. 500 metres around the tank has been sealed off and workers are cleaning the area to remove the chemical. Medics are doing health checks to make sure others are not experiencing symptoms from the fumes.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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Crime

Man arrested for fake immigration documents operation at Bangkok grocery store

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for fake immigration documents operation at Bangkok grocery store | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Naewna

A Burmese man was arrested after he allegedly faked work permit documents and stamps, operating at a produce shop in Bangkok near the Myanmar Embassy. After a number of cases involving Burmese migrants with fake visa documents and bogus stamps, immigration officers investigated the grocery store, posing as customers.

Many customers entering the grocery store didn’t buy vegetables and were seen exchanging documents, according to Thai media. After going undercover and collecting evidence, immigration officials arrested the Burmese man, Thai media reports as Ong, and 2 women allegedly involved in the scheme. They searched the property and found a large number of Myanmar passports and various kinds of stamps.

Ong allegedly admitted to producing fake immigration stamps, work permit applications and other immigration documents. He charged around 2,000 to 3,000 baht for his services, police say. Ong, who has lived in Thailand for a while and can read Thai, allegedly told police he acquired legal work permits and the proper documents, becoming familiar with the stamps and documents needed by immigration. He allegedly told police he copied immigration stamps as well as stamps from hospitals used on medical certificates.

Thai media says immigration police are now expanding their investigation to crack down on other operations producing fake visa documents and stamps.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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