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Severe drought predicted for Thailand and neighbouring countries

Maya Taylor

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Severe drought predicted for Thailand and neighbouring countries | The Thaiger
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Experts are warning that over the next two to three months, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam can all expect severe drought conditions which will affect agricultural production. Of the four countries, Thailand and Cambodia are expected to suffer the most, according to the report.

A statement issued by the Mekong River Commission confirmed that water levels in the river had reached their lowest point in 60 years, with levels reaching exceptional lows since June.

The commission is an intergovernmental organisation formed in 1995 to work with the governments of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to manage the sustainable development of the Mekong River as a shared water resource.

Speaking on behalf of the commission, Lam Hung Son says the late start and early finish of this year’s monsoon rains has exacerbated conditions.

“The drought is caused by insufficient rainfall during the wet season with a delayed arrival and earlier departure of the monsoon rain and an El Nino event that has created an abnormally high temperature and high evapotranspiration.”

“This year’s prolonged dry weather condition can possibly adversely impact agricultural and crop production. The issue of water shortage for consumption could also come into play as the drought persists.”

Evapotranspiration occurs when water evaporates from soil and sea, or through transpiration from plants, into the atmosphere.

Conditions are expected to worsen from the beginning of next month and into early January, during which most parts of the Mekong basin are not expected to get any rain.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Cambodia announces changes to entry rules for citizens with foreign passports

Maya Taylor

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Cambodia announces changes to entry rules for citizens with foreign passports | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Binh Dang Nam on Unsplash

Cambodian nationals who hold foreign passports will likely welcome the government’s decision to do away with the requirement for a US$3,000 deposit to cover Covid-19 costs, along with the compulsory US$50,000 health insurance. But a report in TTR weekly says the changes only apply to Cambodian citizens with foreign passports and a Visa K entry permit.

Following the move by the country’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, entry requirements have been updated at all Cambodian airports, but the health insurance requirement and hefty deposit are still mandatory for all foreign visitors. The SSCA adds that Cambodian citizens are still required to show a medical certificate that proves they have tested negative for the Covid-19 virus.

“Cambodian nationals holding foreign passports with Visa K are still required to possess a health certificate indicating a Covid-19 negative status issued by competent health authorities of their residing country no more than 72 hours from the departure time from their residing country.”

In addition, all international organisations in Cambodia, including foreign embassies and consulates, must confirm that staff and diplomats entering the country are free from Covid-19 and ensure they fulfill the mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

SOURCE: TTR Weekly

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Crime

Billions in illicit drugs burned in Thailand and Myanmar

Jack Burton

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Billions in illicit drugs burned in Thailand and Myanmar | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AP

In a joint operation, authorities in Thailand and Myanmar destroyed 25 tonnes of illicit drugs valued at more than 62 billion baht (US$2 billion) in Ayutthaya and Yangon. The move comes as drug cartels in the Golden Triangle boost supplies and seek new channels of distribution. The Golden Triangle, where Laos, northern Myanmar and Thailand meet, has been a hub of illicit drug traffic for decades. Authorities say production there is now taking place on an industrial scale.

In Ayutthaya, about 80 kilometres north of Bangkok, Thai authorities marked International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with a mass burning of drugs. Police guarded boxes of drugs unloaded from trucks while bricks of heroin and bags stuffed with methamphetamine pills, known as “yaba,” were thrown into dumpsters for incineration. In Yangon, meanwhile, plumes of black smoke filled the sky as sacks full of drugs were set ablaze. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.

Thai authorities say Covid-19 travel restrictions and checkpoints helped reduce smuggling, but the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said last month that the trade continues to thrive. Thailand’s deputy national police chief says drug criminals are getting more creative, and the internet is becoming a growing outlet for the illicit drug trade.

“Our children are making the wrong decision to order narcotic drugs online. And the dealers send the drugs to them.”

Rising heroin use among young people is among several worrying trends. Though opium cultivation and heroin refining have dropped, methamphetamine production in Myanmar’s northern regions has increased dramatically, with armed ethnic groups collaborating with organised crime elements. Thailand is used mainly as a conduit and distribution point, with some drugs sold domestically, but most smuggled onward.

Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative, says online drug sales represent a worrying trend, with an oversupply of meth pushing prices down and adding to more drug abuse.

“Above all we are looking now at an increase in drug availability. Very dangerous. Frankly speaking, Myanmar has become the transit place of narcotic drug distribution to Europe and Asia.”

SOURCE: Reuters

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Crime

Military weapons seized near Burmese border

Jack Burton

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Military weapons seized near Burmese border | The Thaiger
PHOTO: New Indian Express

Police in the Mae Sot district of the Tak province, near the Burmese border, have seized a massive cache of military weapons, including 33 M16 and AK47 assault rifles, M79 grenade launchers and PK general purpose machine guns, together with a large quantity of ammunition of different calibers. 2 Thai men were arrested, but no details were available as to where.

Thailand’s national police chief says that he suspects the weapons were intended for use by ill-intentioned elements which, according to intelligence reports, have been plotting to stir political unrest in the region. He declined to speculate or identify any specific political groups, saying the matter is under investigation by authorities.

He has ordered police in all areas, particularly in 10 provinces, including Chiang Mai, Phrae, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ayutthaya and Khon Kaen, to keep a close watch on political movements today, the 88th anniversary of the transformation from absolute monarchy to to constitutional monarchy, saying he worries that there will be gatherings as a symbolic gesture.

Past reports of arms seizures in Mae Sot, as well as other districts bordering Myanmar, appear to show that most of the weapons are actually smuggled from Cambodia by traffickers, for sale at huge profits to Burmese rebel groups based along the porous border between Thailand and Myanmar.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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