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Bangkok smog: Police get out their hoses

The Thaiger & The Nation

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by Kornkamon Aksorndech

Traffic police and volunteers sprayed water at four locations in Bangkok this morning in a bid to curb the dust and smog pollution.

Pol Maj General Nithithorn Jintakanon, commander of the Traffic Police Division of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, presided at the dispatch of 150 police officers and volunteers from his headquarters on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road.

They chose four high-traffic locations and sprayed water in front of the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, the Din Daeng expressway toll gates and at the Ratchadapisek-Lat Phrao intersection on Lat Phrao Road and a Ramkhamhaeng Road intersection.

#pissinginthewind

Bangkok smog: Police get out their hoses | News by The ThaigerBangkok smog: Police get out their hoses | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

Parliament to discuss political protests in 2 day special session

Caitlin Ashworth

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Parliament to discuss political protests in 2 day special session | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Esan Unity

The Thai Parliament is now holding a 2 day ’emergency’ parliamentary session to discuss the ongoing pro-democracy protests. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai says he wants MPs and senators to work together to find a solution, but some commentators say it will just cause more conflict between parties. Even amongst the government coalition there are some 20 different political parties that have differing attitudes towards the current demands of the protesters.

The joint House-Senate session will be a general debate and discussion which started at 9.30am and is scheduled to go up to 10pm. No votes on motions will take place during the meetings, today or tomorrow. The special session was scheduled in response to the political protests that have been taken place almost daily since October 14. The current batch of protests kicked off back in July, but have been growing in participants and frequency ever since.

Protesters have calling on government reform, a rewrite of the 2017 Constitution, and pushing for PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign.

The protesters have also addressed sensitive topics during their demonstrations regarding the Thai Monarchy, with some statements that could lead to arrest. Under Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law, insults and criticism about the Monarchy are prohibited. The politicians will not touch on the sensitive issues, according to chief government whip Wirat Ratanset. He added that MPs are mature enough to do their job constructively without breaking the law.

“However, if any of them are careless when they speak about those sensitive issues during the session, they will be doing so at their own risk and must take responsibility as they will not be afforded the protection of parliamentary immunity”, (without explaining why). Pheu Thai secretary-general Prasert Jantararuangtong said party MPs will watch what they say, careful not to bring up issues about the Monarchy during the debate.

The House speaker says that some MPs have disagreed with holding a special session, saying it could cause an argument between the politicians that would do more harm than good.

“I told the MPs they must try to prevent that by cooperating and presenting useful ideas. This is not a censure debate.”

The deputy leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, Cholnan Srikaew also said he does not think the debate will not help move things forward.

“The motion is like an attempt to whitewash (the government’s actions). Of the total 23 hours of debate, the opposition parties get only 8 hours while cabinet ministers are given 5 hours, the Senate gets 5 hours, and parties of the coalition camp get 5 hours. This means 15 hours versus 8 hours.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach “unhealthy” levels

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach “unhealthy” levels | The Thaiger

At least some good news, Bangkok’s air quality has improved during the lockdown period. In January, it was listed as the “third most polluted city in the world.” By April, air pollution levels dropped down to a “safe” and “healthy”, according to the US Air Quality Index, or AQI. Now the bad news, forecasts predict Bangkok’s air pollution will reach “unhealthy” levels again.

Air with containing low levels of the air pollutant PM2.5 is considered “safe.” PM 2.5 is fine particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. At high levels, it can be harmful to people’s health. AQI is measured by the concentration of air pollutants. An AQI at 0 to 50 is considered safe, while 300 and up is considered dangerous…

  • 0-50: Good
  • 51-100: Moderate
  • 101-150:Unhealthy for sensitive groups
  • 151-200: Unhealthy
  • 201-300: Very unhealthy
  • 301-500: Hazardous

Just yesterday, Bangkok was listed as the 16th city with the worst air quality in the world on Air Visuals with an AQI of 108 with PM 2.5 at 38 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This morning, Bangkok’s air quality was reported at a “moderate” level with an AQI of 95, according to Air Visuals.

Another website, through the World Air Quality Index project, reported the city’s AQI at 129, a level that can be harmful to sensitive groups. Both websites forecast the AQI to increase by tonight to “unhealthy” levels that could be harmful to someone’s health. Levels are expected to increase today to an AQI of 158 to 171.

The Pollution Control Department says the air quality in Bangkok fluctuates. While AQI was reported at a fairly high level yesterday, Bangkok has been between a “good” and “moderate” level with PM2.5 at around 20 to 42 µg/m3 detected by 71 air quality stations, according to the department.

The top 5 cities with the worst air quality, as of this morning on Air Visuals, are Delhi, India with 192 AQI; Shenyang, China with 186 AQI; Beijing, China with 174 AQI; Chongqing, China with 172 AQI and Chengdu, China with 167 AQI.

Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach

Pollution forecast for the week of October 26 to November 1, according to the World Air Quality Index project. Red means air pollution at “unhealthy” levels and orange means air pollution at levels “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Air Visuals| World Air Quality Index project

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Protests

Protesters mass at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok for the first of 2 scheduled rallies

The Thaiger

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Protesters mass at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok for the first of 2 scheduled rallies | The Thaiger

Crowds are gathering at the Ratchprsong intersection in Bangkok, one of the promised locations for a rally in response to last night’s refusal of the Thai PM to resign. Thousands have already gathered and, if the weather holds out, the numbers will continue to swell as the evening approaches.

Ratchprasong intersection is one of the busiest intersections in the city, right in the middle of the central Bangkok shopping district.

People have crowded the roads at the intersection, with hundreds of onlookers watching from the skywalk that is strung under the BTS tracks. The crowd is building along Ratchdamri Road, in front of Central World. Banners are being prepared on site with demands for the Thai prime minister’s resignation and other calls for action. Some of the banners are being taken from protest to protest, becoming a canvas for thousands of protesters to share their signatures and messages to the Government.

Messages on one of the banners read “We are the people”, “Everyone is a leader”, “Thailand is for the people”, “Police should protect the people”.

Musical performances are planned for this evening as the peaceful rally slowly grows in number. People’s Party and Free Youth merchandise is also being sold, along with the usual assortment of food stalls along the sides of Ratchadamri Road.

Many of the protesters have also mentioned the prospect of pro-royalist protesters turning up but have expressed their hope that the protests to continue peacefully. At this stage, there has been no sign of yellow shirted demonstrators at the site.

There are very few police patrolling the intersection as of 4.45pm, outnumbered at this stage by opportunist motorcycle taxi riders waiting for the conclusion of the rally. First aid, food, safety gear and merchandise are all on hand, much of the assistance from University volunteers.

There has also been a smattering of foreign protesters joining the Thais, also flashing signs of support, in English.

Tomorrow protesters have promised to march from the Sam Ron intersection to the German Embassy, a symbolic march to draw attention to the chosen overseas domicile of a “very important person”.

Many of the key protest leaders remain in jail, refused bail yesterday by the Appeals Court. They are still in residence at the Bangkok Remand Centre

The State of Emergency, forbidding the gathering of any more than 5 people, was dropped last Thursday morning after being in operation for a week.

Some protesters today say they would have been happy to keep defying the State of Emergency and fear that the removal of the emergency provisions could draw out more Royalist rallies with the potential for violent interaction between the two groups.

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