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Amnesty International demands “Penguin’s” release

Jack Burton

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Amnesty International demands “Penguin’s” release | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Thai PBS World
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The Thailand chapter of Amnesty International is calling on police to immediately release student protest leader Prit “Penguin” Chivarak, after he was arrested yesterday on charges of sedition and inciting public unrest. AI Thailand Director Niyanut Kotesarn said in a statement issued last night that the arrest of the Thammasat University student amounts to suppression of free expression and contravenes the Thai Constitution. She demanded that all charges against Prit and 2 other activists under arrest be dropped.

Prit was escorted by police to the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court this morning, to seek the extension of his detention for allegedly inciting public unrest and 7 other charges in connection with the protest held at the Victory Monument on July 18. Police were stationed outside the court after dozens of supporters turned up to show moral support for the student leader.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pakkapong Pongpetra told media that the police will not object to bail for Prit, saying bail is at the court’s discretion.

He said police will be deployed at the Victory Monument tomorrow to maintain order, as student activists are scheduled to hold a protest there, adding that police searched Prit’s apartment,in the Rangsit area early this morning and found some useful evidence, but he did not elaborate.

Amnesty International demands

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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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.

Transport

Suvarnabhumi Airport extension ready by April, capacity to increase by 15 million passengers

Caitlin Ashworth

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Suvarnabhumi Airport extension ready by April, capacity to increase by 15 million passengers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Matichon

A new terminal extension at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is finishing up after construction was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The addition would not only reduce overcrowding, but also increase the amount of passengers at the airport. The Satellite Terminal 1, or SAT-1, extension is 95% done and expected to be open to the public by April 2021, according to the Airports of Thailand, or AOT, president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn.

The new extension will have 28 parking bays, reducing congestion and allowing more flights to and from the airport. It’s expect to increase the airport’s capacity by 15 million passengers per year. An Automated People Mover, an electric train system, is planned to transport 6,000 people per hour using an underground tunnel connecting to the main terminal which is about a kilometre away.

The pandemic significantly slowed down construction on the new extension, which is part of a 62 billion baht project approved in 2011. Manufacturers overseas were unable to ship parts due to restrictions and some people needed for the project could not enter the country, Nitinai says.

“Due to lockdown measures, we also had to wait longer for experts from overseas who have to arrive to conduct test runs and provide instructions on system operation and maintenance.”

Workers are conducting test runs of the transit system. 2 of the 6 people movers have been delivered. A full test will be conducted once all the trains are delivered. Nitinai says the transit system will be ready before April 2021.

“The building itself is now 100% complete, with only some interior design and landscape work now being finalised … AOT is also working on the APM system, whose installation in the Satellite 1 Building is now over 70% complete.”

The SAT-1 won’t be fully completed until April 2022. Nitinai says the individual carrier system and luggage carousels are 75% complete.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Bangkok

Bangkok’s Khao San Road re-opening for local trade

Maya Taylor

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Bangkok’s Khao San Road re-opening for local trade | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Screengrab - Bangkok Extra

Bangkok’s Deputy Governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul says the capital’s iconic Khao San Road is set to re-open for trade, targeting the local market of Thais and expats. The street is normally a mecca for international tourists, in particular, younger backpackers making the rite-of-passage pilgrimage through Southeast Asia.

There was a pre-Covid botched attempt to meddle with the area’s long-established, and rather endearingly ramshackle, mixture of shops, bars, vendors and scammers. Whilst not particularly popular with the locals, the old Khao San Road was a magnet to tourists. Attempts by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority to gentrify the area resulted in a number of unsuccessful attempts to tame the traders and bring some order to the busy shopping zone.

But the closure of shops and the lack of tourists from the Covid outbreak provided the break the BMA needed to “sort out” the old Khao San Road and do a make-over for the eventual re-opening of the new Khao San Road.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the street hard, with businesses shut, and a marked absence of the international tourists who normally make up a solid 90% of Khao San’s visitors. Now Sakoltee says it’s time for the street to come back to life, saying vendors will target a new demographic of local Thais and expats whilst the borders remained largely closed.

The Bangkok Post reports that Sakoltee chaired a meeting yesterday to plan the re-opening, which it’s hoped will happen at the end of this month. It’s understood additional vendors who attract local custom will set up shop on the road, with various monthly events to boost visitor numbers.

Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang says areas surrounding the road will get a clean-up, in particular, the Chong Nonsi Khlong, or canal. Officials are planning to turn the waterway and the surrounding area into a visitor attraction, a development project that will take place in 2 stages. The first job is to clean the canal, which is currently home to weeds and rubbish. Aswin has directed 250 municipal workers to begin the clean-up operation. Trees along the canal will also be trimmed regularly, and the canal’s drainage and treatment systems are set to be revamped at some point in the future plan.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Association is also planning to create footpaths along both sides of the canal, a project that will be paid for through donations from local businesses. Aswin hopes to have all works completed by April 2021.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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 shedding 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 NY Times reporter spoke to female students 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 Thailand’s 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 NY 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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