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10 key Rohingya traffickers under surveillance

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– 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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Family sues prime minister, CCSA after Covid-infected relative dies

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo from Kunlasub Wattnaphon's Facebook.

The family of a man who died while infected with Covid-19 is demanding the prime minister, as well as other government officials, pay millions of baht in compensation, citing “negligence” after calls to Covid-19 hotlines went unanswered or were not of help.

35 year old Kunlasub Watthanaphon died on April 23. Kunlasub is said to have contracted the virus from a cluster in Bangkok. Many of the clusters of infections early in the recent outbreak were concentrated in nightlife districts in Bangkok including Thong Lor and Ekkamai.

When Kunlasub developed Covid-19 symptoms, he called the hotline numbers for those who think they make have contracted the virus. If he had received proper treatment quicker, the family says he might still be alive.

“The CCSA announced telephone helplines – 1330, 1422, 1668, 1669 and 1323 – for people who suspected they had contracted Covid-19. When my brother developed Covid-like symptoms he called these numbers. However, they were either busy or someone picked up but did not send help right away.”

Kunlasub had documented his illness on Facebook, posting updates, as well as photos and videos, up until the day of his death.

The death of the 35 year old man, who is well known in the esport, or video competition industry, sparked controversy. One person wrote on Facebook after Kunlasub’s death “My friend didn’t die because of a congenital disease. He died because he wasn’t treated in the early days.”

The case was filed at the Administrative Court today. It demands compensation of 4.53 million baht from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration as well as PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, his secretary and the prime minister’s office.

The family is also suing Thong Lor entertainment venues, where the first clusters were reported in the recent outbreak, for negligence.

β€œHad the CCSA imposed a strict lockdown on entertainment venues and banned travel during the Songkran holiday, the latest wave of Covid-19 with over 2,000 new infections daily would never have happened.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | 8 clusters in Bangkok, Phuket party organisers charged | May 14

Tanutam Thawan

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Foreigners may face a slight delay in receiving their Covid-19 vaccines, The BMA has now confirmed 8 clusters of Covid infection in the capital, Thai Private Hospital Association is now working to offer a variety of Covid-19 vaccine brands to Thais and Patong police have announced that the managers of the Phuket venues that hosted the Kolour entertainment event swill be charged under Thailand’s Emergency Decree provisions.

 

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Economy

Market down as good US economy drives interest rate fears

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Thai stock market followed the rest of the world down yesterday, but long-term prospects may be looking up.

After US inflation exceeded targets and increased 4%, global stock markets including Thailand plummeted yesterday with fears of rising interest rates. Almost 144 billion baht was traded yesterday with the market at one point diving down 70 points in the late afternoon before recovering to a 23.72 point loss, closing at 1548.13.

2% is a high rate of inflation so the big numbers sparked fears that the US Federal Reserve will reduce quantitative easing and increase interest rate which decreases the market’s liquidity. The US economy is surging with the Consumer Price Index up 4.2% over last year.

The balancing out of the economy will likely push risky prospects like the stock market down while driving up commodity prices like energy and oil. This may hurt the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the short run, but will likely have long-term positive effects as the SET has a large number of energy stocks that will benefit from the market’s change.

Some long-term investors in Thailand fear quantitative easing and the market’s tightening because it drives away foreign investors which in the past made up 30% of the Thai market. But now foreigners only account for 20% so the negative effect should be much less. However, in the normal inflation range of 1 to 3%, the stock market should have a price-to-earnings ratio of 20 and some experts have downgraded it to 18 now.

Eyeing the US, some experts predict that even accelerated quantitative easing won’t come into effect until the end of the year and interest rates probably won’t rise significantly within the next 2 years. Watching the continued effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and US unemployment figures will be key indicators driving the global market up or down.

Even with the stock market down in Thailand, there’s still some good news as Thai corporations listed on the SET expected to cross the 200 billion baht profit threshold this week, after reporting 180 billion baht in the first quarter of the year, with 55% of the market recording a profit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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