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The Great Hong Kong Toilet Roll Heist of 2020

The Thaiger

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The Great Hong Kong Toilet Roll Heist of 2020 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Empty shelves in a Hong Kong supermarket, linked to the coronavirus outbreak - CNN
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And now from the files of the ‘Laws of Unintended Consequences’, a coronavirus story with a twist. Police in Hong Kong have arrested two men and are still searching for a third following a toilet paper roll heist. Some 600 paper rolls were stolen in a panic-theft linked to shortages over the coronavirus.

Yesterday morning a delivery was being made to a supermarket in the Mong Kok district. The delivery man had placed about 50 packs of toilet rolls – a total of 600 rolls – outside the supermarket when three men appeared out of nowhere and stole them.

The robbery follows continued fears of food and supply shortages in Hong Kong as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues. One person has died of the virus in Hong Kong, one of only five deaths that have taken place outside mainland China.

When the Hong Kong government announced it would close some borders with mainland China to the north, it sparked rumours that supplies out of China would be cut off. There was suddenly a spate of panic buying over so-called endangered goods – rice, hand sanitiser, cleaning products and toilet paper rolls.

Despite reassurances from the government asking residents not to panic buy, the soothing tones from the authorities simply made the situation worse. Crowds of people headed supermarkets across the city jostled for toilet paper rolls. And suddenly the humble toilet roll became a hot commodity.

“Government measures against the coronavirus outbreak, like travel restrictions and border closures, will not affect the freight services between the mainland and Hong Kong. There is no need for the public to worry.”

Speaking to US news network CNN, two major Hong Kong supermarkets, two shipping companies, and two container operators, all said their supplies of food and other daily products were “fine”. Wellcome, a major supermarket chain, said any rumours of supply shortages are unfounded.

Now there are limits on how many units of a particular item shoppers can buy during their visit. For example, shoppers can only buy two units of rice, toilet rolls, antiseptic wipes, hand soap, and canned meat.

As of now there is still a toilet roll thief on the loose in Hong Kong.

SOURCE: CNN

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Curfew violators made to volunteer at temples

May Taylor

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Curfew violators made to volunteer at temples | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

As Thailand’s already crowded prisons struggle to cope with an influx of a new type of criminal, the “curfew violator”, the Department of Probation has come up with a novel solution – send them to the temples.

Thailand has had a national curfew in place since the establishment of the country’s emergency decree on March 26. Initially it was from 10pm – 4am, then reduced to 11pm – 4am. It is now expected to be reduced further to Midnight – 4am in the next week or so. The emergency decree will continue until the end of June whereby PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the government-appointed CSSA will continue to call the shots without having to obtain permission from the Thai parliament.

During the Covid-19 outbreak, the Supreme Patriarch, head of the order of Buddhist monks, created soup kitchens at over 900 temples to help feed those who had lost their livelihoods and were struggling to afford food. Now, instead of going to prison, some curfew breakers are being sent there to help out.

Vittawan Sunthornkajit, director-general of the Department of Probation, says curfew violators who have also committed serious offences during curfew hours are still being sent to prison. However, those found guilty of more minor misdemeanours are instead given a warning and then sent to the soup kitchens, where they can help out while being kept under surveillance. Placements range from 7 days to a month, with Vittawan saying the courts have so far sent 2,276 offenders their way.

It’s hoped that being part of the charitable work carried out at temples will instill a sense of conscientiousness (“samnuek di”, in Thai) in lawbreakers and make them aware of the effect their bad behaviour has on society as a whole.

“These wrongdoers will help monks give food to the affected villagers. We want them to see how so many people suffer.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Chiangrai Times

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Politics

Opposition criticises Thai government over economic toll of Covid response

May Taylor

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Opposition criticises Thai government over economic toll of Covid response | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP

Opposition party Pheu Thai has condemned the government’s management of the Covid-19 crisis, saying total shutdown has had a devastating effect on the country’s economy. In a report in Nation Thailand, Paopoom Rojanasakul, vice secretary-general of the party says the hard-hitting restrictions imposed across the country have led to high unemployment, with the International Monetary Fund saying Thailand’s economy is the worst-affected in the region.

He adds that the IMF is predicting the economy here will shrink by 6.7%, saying Thailand has one of the world’s most negative GDP forecasts, despite appearing to have brought the virus under control quite quickly.

“The question that arises is, if Thailand has controlled the outbreak quicker than the other others, why is its economy worse hit than the others?”

Paopoom says the decision to essentially shut down the economy in the early stages of the outbreak is what caused the damage, not simply the fact that economic performance is dependent on the global economy as a whole. Pheu Thai says the government must act now to stop businesses from going under and to save jobs, saying the government got it wrong when it allowed employers to terminate their workers’ positions.

The party says employers should receive financial incentives to encourage them to keep their staff employed. Paopoom adds that what’s required is a policy of balanced measures that keep the economy running at the same time as the virus is being brought under control.

“The winner of this battle is a balanced state that can control the outbreak while also sustaining the economy until the world has a vaccine.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Pattaya

Chon Buri, Pattaya pass coronavirus milestones

Jack Burton

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Chon Buri, Pattaya pass coronavirus milestones | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pattaya City Mayor Sonthaya Khunpluem, without his floral shirts - The Pattaya News

Chon Buri province passed a milestone today: 30 consecutive days without a new confirmed case of Covid-19. The Chonburi Communicable Disease Committee made the announcement this morning. Pattaya, which is part of the province, has reached 40 days. Not a single locally infected patient remains under treatment in the province.

There is a state quarantine centre in the province (Sattahip) for Thai nationals returning from abroad, which still has several people waiting to fulfil their 14 day mandatory quarantine. They arrived from overseas and were sent directly to the hospital and never mingled with the general population. They do not pose a health risk to the public, according to the Chon Buri government.

Chon Buri has had a total of 87 cases since the start of the outbreak, with 2 deaths. The deaths were both foreign nationals who were considered imported cases and had recently travelled from other provinces or countries.

Despite the case numbers, tens of thousands of businesses remain closed in the province, leaving thousands of residents out of work visiting food lines on a daily basis in Pattaya City and other parts of the province. This is due to the government’s “one size fits all” reopening plan for businesses, regardless of the number of active cases of Covid-19 in the area.

Pattaya is famous worldwide for its nightlife and tourist industry and normally attracts millions of visitors a year. The vast majority of its businesses, in the hospitality and entertainment sector, remain shuttered by government order and their staff either trying to survive in the city or already headed back ‘up country’ to their family homes.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has indicated that entertainment venues will likely be allowed to open, but with strict new rules, sometime in June.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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