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Thai government screws sex workers over 5,000 baht stimulus

Jack Burton

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Thai government screws sex workers over 5,000 baht stimulus | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pattaya One
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Thousands of Thai sex workers, estimated to be around 300,000, mostly out of work due to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis, will receive no labour protection from the government. Empower Foundation, an organisation for the rights and opportunities for sex workers across Thailand, has sent a letter to the government pleading for help.

“Many are mothers and main family providers and carers. Due to Covid-19 the government has ordered closures of entertainment places which means that over 100,000 sex worker across Thailand are out of a job. In emergencies women are often the ones who do the work of caring for others. Yet this work is not recognised, nor compensated or supported.”

“For example, even though entertainment places are reported to earn around 6.4 billion dollars per year and sex workers create 4-10% of the GDP. Sex workers are criminalized and left out of labour protection and social security. The closure order affects sex workers who now have no income at all. Sex workers are ready to help society, but also still must pay their rent, live and care for their family.”

The organisation is yet to receive a response from the government, and it’s estimated the number of sex workers without a job across the country has now reached 300,000.

Mai Janta, a community representative of sex workers in Chiang Mai working at Empower Foundation, told reporters that they were the first to be affected when the government declared all entertainment venues closed.

“When the massage parlours, bathing venues, bars and karaoke closed we all agreed with and supported the government’s measures. Yet our kind of work means that we have zero chance of any income during this time. Also the government has shown no interest in helping at all. Now we can only follow the situation and check in on the women we know of, which is our 3,091 members across Chiang Mai.

“This government has focused on arresting and enforcing, never supporting. The labour law has never protected these women even though we contribute greatly to the economy. There are some women who are under the social security scheme; those working for larger businesses who have proper working hours such as beer girls, karaoke girls and such. But freelancers and women working in bars are often left out in the cold,” according to Chiang Mai City News.

“The government’s 5000 baht compensation, which is still not available and may not be for months, only applies to a few women, as most are migrant workers or tribal people with no Thai ID.”

“These are the most vulnerable of all. They have nowhere to go and no resources at all. What we want is the nearly 500 million baht the government seized a few years ago from the human trafficking owners of Victoria Secret and Natalie massage parlors.”

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Chiang Mai Citynews

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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.

Air Pollution

Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast

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Air pollution reaches “unhealthy” levels in Thailand’s north and northeast | The Thaiger

18 provinces in Thailand’s north and northeast are being hit by a wave of smoke and air pollution as the burning season kicks in for the country’s agricultural sector. The next 2 months are the peak of the burning off season for agricultural waste as farmers prepare their land for the next crops of corn, rice and sugar and use the fires to aid the harvest of some of their crops.

With sugar cane plantations, for example, farmers choose to burn the leaves off the plant, exposing the stalks, before harvesting the profit-making stalks, saving time and money. There are mechanical ways to achieve the same result but the farmers, pushed to slender profit margins by the multinational food companies, are unable to invest and amortise the additional costs.

The levels of PM 25 micron particulate, a measure of the smoke and haze, has been at “unhealthy” levels in Chiang Rai, Phrae, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Phetchabun, Phayao, Nan, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Chaiyaphum, Ubon Ratchathani, Saraburi, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The Pollution Control Department are now openly admitting that the major cause of the seasonal smoke is “open burning by farmers who are preparing their land”, according to the Bangkok Post. On Monday the Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan issued orders to prevent farmers from starting the plantation fires. You can check the result of his orders in the fire map below.

Air pollution reaches

iqair.com measures the average level of PM2.5 dust in the North at between 35-85 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³) yesterday, considered “unhealthy”. In the Northeast, the levels ranged between 40-99μg/m³.

The Thai Pollution Control Department considers PM2.5 readings below 50μg/m³ as “safe” but the Thai standard is twice as high as what is considered safe by the World Health Organisation.

firms.modaps, the NASA satellite fire tracking service, shows the number of fires currently alight around Thailand and the concentrations in the north and north east. The fires in northern Cambodia and north east Myanmar are also contributing to the Thailand’s smog and haze, depending on which way the winds are blowing. During this time of the year, the winds are predominantly north east and light across much of Thailand. The firms.modaps feed is live, registering the fires alight at the time the screen capture was taken.

Air pollution reaches

Bangkok starts off Wednesday with relatively better air quality than the past few weeks.

Air pollution reaches

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Chiang Mai night markets reopening tomorrow

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Chiang Mai night markets reopening tomorrow | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotel.com

Night markets in Chiang Mai will be reopened tomorrow after the province went 6 consecutive days with no new Covid-19 cases.

According to Chiang Mai Governor, Charoenrit Sanguansat, the province and the provincial disease control committee agreed to ease up restrictions on social and business activities after the number of infections continually dropped and no new infections were reported during the past week.

As a result, flea markets, night markets, and walking streets across the province will be reopened tomorrow onwards.

However, the governor still reiterates that marketplaces and visitors must follow the disease control measures strictly.

Since the start of the second wave of Covid-19 in mid-December, Chiang Mai has tightened restrictions to prevent the virus spread in the province, with the order to close all markets and social activities for 14 days on January 6.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Environment

Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires

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Thailand on fire – NASA satellite website tracks the country’s farm fires | The Thaiger

Thailand is burning. The burning off of harvested crop plantations is lighting up the agricultural areas. The truth is starkly revealed in the live NASA satellite feeds which track the fires around the world.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

CHART: Fires in the past 10 days around parts of Thailand – Firms.Modaps

Concentrations of the current fires can be seen in Central Thailand, north of Bangkok, parts of Isaan, north east of Bangkok, and around Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Notably the concentration of fires in northern Cambodia and across the north-western border in Myanmar, is also causing plenty of problems as the foreign smoke drifts across the borders. No matter what Thai officials do to enforce the rice, sugar and corn plantation burn-offs, there is little they can do about the haze drifting across the borders.

Bangkok, so close to clusters of fires, is in for a bad air pollution day anytime the light winds of the start of the year blow from the north or the east. The lack of rain adds to the problem, the annual problem, that engulfs Thailand’s capital during days between December and April, with the worst month, statistically, being March.

The alternative method of preparing for the next harvest, mechanical removal of the refuse and waste after harvesting, is both unpopular in Thailand and economically unviable for the small farmers whose margins remain thin with the multi-national buyers of their produce pushing for lower and lower prices every year.

In Chiang Mai, from January to the end of March, the locals even call it the ‘burning season’. Coupled with the hot season, the farmers in northern Thailand burn their fields to prepare land for the next harvest and also to get rid of biowastes like corn that can’t be sold in the market. It’s officially illegal to do the burn offs but the lack of enforcement leaves the problem unresolved and the smog and haze remain as predictable as the annual wet season.

Chiang Mai also has a local geographic problem which exacerbates the bad smoke pollution. The city is in a valley, surrounded by hills, trapping in the smoke and helping block any breezes that could otherwise blow it away.

For today, Bangkok’s air pollution is better than the past two days but still registering as ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ with city readings mostly between 140 – 170. Parts of the city, mostly south-east and south west, were registering readings above 300 in the past few days.

Thailand on fire - NASA satellite website tracks the country's farm fires | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: IQair.com

Watch this video for some more information about Bangkok’s smog…

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