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10 key Rohingya traffickers under surveillance

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– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

10 key Rohingya traffickers under surveillance
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: More than 10 big agents have allegedly been smuggling Rohingya people from Myanmar to a third country, an informed source has revealed.

The source, who is a member of an anti-human trafficking team, said recently that these agents collected 30,000 baht from each refugee and another 60,000 baht from employers in the third country – usually Malaysia.

“These agents have contacts in Myanmar’s Rakhine region from where the Rohingya people are exported,” he said.

The peak season of Rohingya smuggling has already begun as storms over the Andaman Sea have died down as they do between November and April every year.

With links to smuggling gangs, each seemingly innocent-looking fishing trawler can carry more than 200 Rohingya people per trip, while a big boat can carry as many as 1,000, the source said.

He disclosed this information in the wake of a recent discovery of 299 illegal migrants in a fishing trawler in Ranong’s Kapoe Bay. Of the migrants, 219 were Rohingya and the remainder Bangladeshi nationals.

“Our investigation suggests that the illegal migrants usually get off small trawlers at secluded piers in Ranong’s Muang, Kapoe and Suk Samran districts,” he said.

He explained that larger boats bypass Ranong waters, moving through international waters to Thailand’s Satun province, which borders Malaysia.

According to the source, the illegal migrants are kept in Satun until they can be forwarded to employers in Malaysia.

He said the Thailand-based agents began trafficking Rohingya people after the number of Myanmar nationals for their illegal business dropped. He provided the aliases of the key agents, choosing not to directly identify anybody by their full name.

“These suspects run restaurants, pubs, piers for fisheries and refrigerated truck services as fronts. While these legitimate businesses clearly don’t generate massive revenues, each of these people have hundreds of millions of baht in assets,” he said. “Some even have billions.”

The source said officials were currently in the process of coordinating with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to investigate the suspects’ assets and find out if some of these were ill-gotten gains.

When Social Development and Human Security Minister Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew listened to the problems related to Rohingya people yesterday, he made it clear that the police need to take strong action against traffickers.

Separately, Reuters reported that Thai authorities have been planning to push more than 200 boat people out to sea despite calls from rights groups to stop this, as it would put the asylum seekers at greater risk.

These people were found at sea on Saturday and arrested for illegal entry. Their discovery around 3 kilometers from the coast follows what one NGO said was a “major maritime exodus” of Rohingya from neighboring Myanmar.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Today marks the end of tourist visa amnesty

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Today marks the end of tourist visa amnesty | The Thaiger

Today is the end of the Thai government’s visa amnesty for those staying in the country on tourist visas. The amnesty was originally given 6 months ago after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of borders and suspended international flights. Despite calls for the government to extend the amnesty yet again from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the government has not made any announcements that would allow those on tourist visas to stay in the country legally after today’s end date.

For those tourists still stranded in Thailand, they would have needed to provide a letter from their respective embassies that would provide proof that they are unable to travel out of the country by today’s date. Such reasons include medical, flight availability or the Covid situation remaining poor in their home countries. Those who have not provided a letter or have not sorted their visas by today’s date will reportedly face overstay fines of 500 baht per day with a maximum of 20,000 baht in total fines. Other repercussions include being arrested, imprisoned, deported and/or blacklisted from entering Thailand for certain periods that coincide with the amount of time overstayed.

The Royal Thai Immigration has warned numerous times of the approaching end date and what could happen to those who fail to fix their visas properly, however, some immigration centres are open today and/or extending the end date to Monday as the last chance to sort out visas. Such centres are located in Chiang Mai and other provinces, giving foreigners an extra day without receiving an overstay fine.

Today’s end date has some in disagreement over Thailand’s handling of the situation, with critics saying the hard line stance is set to turn off future tourists from the country as well as taking away the only income that some businesses are receiving during the battered economy. Such tourists who are staying for a long time need accommodations that undoubtedly help such businesses stay afloat when international tourists are unable to enter the kingdom.

Regardless, today is the day and if those on tourist visas don’t get their situation sorted, it could land them in hot water with immigration authorities. Officials recommend all foreigners to carry their passports in the next few weeks as they have announced that immigration police will be performing check ups to ensure that those staying after the deadline have valid visas.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Thailand

Government to stir economy with 100 billion baht stimulus starting in October

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Government to stir economy with 100 billion baht stimulus starting in October | The Thaiger

The Thai Government is expected to stimulate the economy with 100 billion baht boost starting in October until the end of the year. The injection will reportedly come from both the people’s and the government’s spending under three stimulus measures according to the Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow.

The first measure will reportedly give 14 million welfare cardholders an extra 500 baht discount over the next 3 months on their shopping with the budget for this measure totalling 21 billion baht. The second measure, dubbed “Kon La Khreung” or Let’s Go Halves, will give 10 million people up to 100 baht discounts daily on beverages and household essentials with the subsidy being capped at 3,000 baht per person. The scheme will not, however, include such things as alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

The third measure is aimed at wealthier Thais as tax incentives and will be offered in an effort to encourage them to spend more as consumers. The Cabinet has also approved a measure to pay 260,000 new graduates half of their salary to help the private sector. That budget is reportedly totaling 19.5 billion baht.

Supattanapong also predicts the economy will improve next year but warns it could take 2 years before the nation’s economic growth returns to the pre-Covid level. He says the country’s current budget is sufficient to boost the economy unless there is a second wave of Covid.

“But in the event that there is a second wave, the government is prepared to borrow more as its national debt is quite low compared to other countries. However the government is being cautious so it can remain financially healthy in the post-Covid era.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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“Bad Student” movement by high-schoolers continues fight against authorities

The Thaiger

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“Bad Student” movement by high-schoolers continues fight against authorities | The Thaiger

A movement, dubbed by some of Thailand’s high-schoolers as ‘Bad Student’, is advancing the fight against education authorities as students are trying to break up the country’s strict, or as they claim, archaic, education system. The movement’s name takes after a university student activitst’s book about his experiences in a government high school. The recent rebellion of students coincides with the recent massive Thammasat University anti-government protests in Bangkok, which are demanding reform of the government, constitution and revered Monarchy. 17 year old Peka Loetparisanyu tells Reuters that their rights are being violated.

“There’s a viral saying that ‘our first dictatorship is school’.”

Some of the students are reportedly wearing white ribbons, cutting their hair in public and showing the now popular protest symbol of the 3-finger salute, reminiscent of the Hunger Games movie franchise, during the morning national anthem which is a requirement at all government schools.

Supporters of the pro-democracy movement say Thailand’s education system is more about compliance rather than education as its rigid rules require students to dress in uniforms, have a certain length of hair and conform to specific hairstyles. The white ribbons being adorned by some of the high-schoolers represent “purity of the students” whilst the 3-fingered salute is being used as a call for democracy.

But their seemingly rebellious actions have not gone completely unnoticed by officials as the Thai Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan earlier this year softened hair length and style rules for government schools.

“I feel that by listening to them, I’m giving them an opportunity to voice their concern safely.”

Such rebellious acts by students have led to parents being outraged over teachers reprimanding students and occasionally humiliating them publicly. Just this year, a student was given an ‘ugly haircut’by a teacher in front of her peers after she showed up to school with a hairstyle that did not precisely meet the requirements.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

 

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