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Ex-DSI chief Tarit Pengdith hit with assets freeze

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Ex-DSI chief Tarit Pengdith hit with assets freeze
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday announced that it had temporarily frozen nearly 60 million baht in assets of former Department of Special Investigation director-general Tarit Pengdith and a former academic attached to the Revenue Department, Suwat Charumaniroj, pending probes into the source of their wealth.

NACC secretary-general Sansern Polajiak said a fact-finding committee appointed by the graft watchdog on October 30 found that there were grounds to believe Mr Tarit and his wife had concealed their assets and were “unusually rich”.

Mr Sansern said the NACC action against Mr Tarit had nothing to do with corruption allegations, but were solely because of his alleged unusual wealth.

NACC director Vicha Mahakhun said the agency had frozen 40mn baht worth of assets belonging to Mr Tarit. They comprised cash from several bank accounts, land title deeds in Nakhon Ratchasima, Chai Nat and Pathum Thani, two-storey concrete buildings, houses, and vehicles such as a Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota Alphard.

Mr Vicha said the agency had ordered Mr Tarit, his wife and their children to submit a retroactive asset declaration within 30 days.

The NACC would compare their new asset declaration with ones Tarit submitted earlier to determine if there was any irregularity, Mr Vicha said.

Mr Tarit also faces charges of encroaching on three reserve forests in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district. NACC director Preecha Lertkamolmat is in charge of Mr Tarit’s case, Mr Vicha said.

A source said the NACC had acted on public complaints and appointed a panel in October last year to launch an asset investigation against Mr Tarit, which found that he transferred assets soon after being replaced as DSI chief last year.

The panel also found that he withdrew a lot of money from several banks, transferred securities, and changed ownership of his land.

The NACC ordered Mr Tarit to explain the source of his assets and provide reasons for his recent actions in relation to his assets. The agency may freeze additional assets.

Mr Tarit hit back over an allegation he is “unusually rich”, saying the value of his assets had only risen 3mn baht over the past five years – from 37.3mn baht to 40.9mn baht.

He said he declared his wealth at 37.3mn baht to the NACC when he was appointed secretary-general of the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission in 2009.

Mr Tarit said he faced an asset investigation because he had overseen important cases as DSI chief, and as a result he had been sued more than 30 times, 19 of which had been dropped.

“I am confident that I will receive justice from the court and I will fight to the Supreme Court in every case,’ he said.

Asked if he knew why the NACC seized his assets on March 16 but waited more than a month to announce the seizure, Mr Tarit said he suspected the agency waited to see the final list of more than 100 officials suspected of corruption.

He said he was not on that list, which was submitted to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday for disciplinary action to be meted out.

Mr Tarit said the deadline for him to submit a new assets declaration was today and he would seek permission to postpone submitting it for another 30 days.

Meanwhile, the NACC froze 19mn baht in assets belonging to former academic attached to the Revenue Department, Suwat Charumaniroj, his wife Thitirat Charumaniroj, their daughters Nopradee and Chanapa, and Thanat Patimavadi, who is linked to the family.

The assets include cash from several bank accounts, stock, investment units in open funds, debt instruments and vehicles.

The move came after the NACC on February 4 appointed a fact-finding panel headed by Supa Piyajitti which found that there were grounds to believe that Mr Suwat was unusually rich and may have transferred, converted and concealed his assets.

Mr Suwat has been instructed to declare assets under his name or his wife, children or any proxy, within 30 days.

In another shake-up of the bureaucracy, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda will move three director-generals to inactive posts.

Siripong Hantrakul, Land Department chief, Wallop Pringpong, chief of the Local Administration Promotion Department, and Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, chief of the Community Development Department, were all to have retired at the end of September.

A source at the ministry said the three senior officials needed to step down because they could not comply with the government’s reform road map. The governors of four to eight provinces will be removed for the same reason.

Gen Anupong would submit the reshuffle list to the Cabinet for approval, the source said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

When can we travel again? World Covid Travel Update | VIDEO

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When can we travel again? World Covid Travel Update | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Today we’ll look at the larger world travel picture in this Covid era, and then we’ll check the latest opportunities if you want to come back to Thailand for travel.

So when can we pack the bags and travel again? Well, in theory, right now. But in practice, depending where you’re coming from and where you want to go, that may still be very complicated… and remain so for at least the rest of this year. But some of the world’s travel so-called experts are now speaking in terms of months and not years. Whilst some of that might be optimistic travel industry spin, there may be some greater certainty on re-openings of some sectors of the world travel industry in the next few months.

But first, consider all the variables that need to fall into place for things to go smoothly..

Despite the roll out of various vaccines, and more on the way, some countries are more advanced in that process than others. The appearance of virus mutations could send all the best guesses for an improvement in travel opportunities into disarray. Whilst it seems the vaccines will be a great benefit for victims to avoid the worst ravages of Covid-19, there is still a long way to go to measure the longer term effects on the changes in transmission and community immunity.

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Thailand tourism sector seeks to reopen the country by July

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Thailand tourism sector seeks to reopen the country by July | The Thaiger
Stock photo by Alexandr Podvalny for Pexels

The following was submitted by Open Thailand Safely, a campaign pushing the Thai government to reopen Thailand to international tourism by July 2021.

Leading international tourism companies in Thailand have launched a campaign to reopen the country’s borders from 1 July 2021.

The #OpenThailandSafely campaign was launched 2 March with the support of over 15 major companies including YAANA Ventures, Minor Group, Asian Trails, Capella Hotels and Resorts, EXO and many others. (The full launch list is here)

The Open Thailand Safely campaign has laid out its arguments in a petition which will underpin a formal request to the Royal Thai Government to respond favourably to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programmes underway in Europe, USA and other Thailand tourism source markets.

The petition is open to anyone in Thailand or around the world who would like to see the country reopen.

The campaign argues that 1 July is an appropriate date for five reasons: the majority of citizens in many source markets will have been vaccinated by then; it gives time to Thai medical authorities to vaccinate both front line staff in hospitality settings in Thailand and/or vulnerable citizens around the country; it gives international travellers time to make travel plans and bookings; the date gives time to airlines, hotels, tour operators and others to start marketing and sales and get ready for tourism operations to commence; and it will take Thailand at least a year, and maybe longer, to return to the large numbers of international visitors that it had before the Covid-19 crisis.

To ensure the safe reopening of Thailand, the petition argues that “international tourists can be asked to satisfy any safeguards the Thai Government may require. This may, for example, include showing officially recognised proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from their home country, purchasing health insurance, showing proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure, and so on.”

#OpenThailandSafely was the initiative of leading Bangkok-based private sector travel companies YAANA Ventures, Minor Group and Asian Trails.

The CEO of YAANA Ventures, Willem Niemeijer [pictured right], said: “The 1 July reopening would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy in 2022.”

In the coming days, the Open Thailand Safely campaign will also send the 1st July request to Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, and the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr Yuthasak Supasorn.

According to the Bank of Thailand and official sources in Thailand, tourism, pre-Covid, was worth about 2.9 trillion baht (US$96.5 billion). Some 39.7 million international visitors in 2019 helped sustain up to 8.3 million jobs. However, arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 making between two and four million people unemployed.

Meanwhile, destinations such as Seychelles, Maldives, Greece and Sri Lanka have either opened borders already or are in discussions to do so in light of successful Covid vaccine rollouts in their key source markets.

People can sign the petition for Thailand to reopen on 1 July at www.OpenThailandSafely.org.

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Thailand News Today | Dodgy vaccine doctor nabbed,Pattaya club raided for ‘explicit’ shows | March 3

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Thailand News Today | Dodgy vaccine doctor nabbed,Pattaya club raided for ‘explicit’ shows | March 3 | The Thaiger

The Bangkok Military Court has issued an arrest warrant for a Royal Thai Army medic who is accused of injecting troops with a fake Covid-19 vaccine. He reportedly made more than 100,000 baht by charging troops, who were on a UN mission, 500 baht each for a tetanus vaccine and a fake Covid-19 vaccine, which an internal army investigation determined was simple saline solution…. Harmless but not very effective.

The Thai Army held a press conference after the medic’s fake vaccine scam made headlines, saying the incident had tarnished the army’s image. The field medic, who was also a lieutenant, injected more than 250 Thai troops stationed in South Sudan on a UN peacekeeping mission with the fake vaccine, claiming it was the head doctor’s order. An Army spokesperson says the medic was in the Thai-South Sudan Horizontal Military Engineering Company and “is a serious disciplinary offence and also violates ethical standards as the wrongdoer is a doctor.”

The governor of the central province of Samut Sakhon is slowly recovering after more than 2 months battling Covid-19. Weerasak Wichitsangsri tested positive for the virus in late December and subsequently ended up on a ventilator for over 40 days. It’s understood Weerasak’s time on the ventilator was a record for the hospital and, at times, medics were unsure if he would recover.

Pattaya City Police inspected a nightclub after reports that the venue was hosting pornographic shows over the weekends. Although the nightclub, named as Dragon Man Club in Thai media, wasn’t presenting a sexually explicit show when officers dropped in, the owner was arrested for operating an entertainment business and selling alcohol without the proper permit.

The Thai government has approved a budget of over 6 billion baht to procure an additional 35 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The budget was approved at a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

The Covid-free gulf islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao are offering special discounts and privileges to tourists until the end of April. Over 80 tourism operators are taking part in the program.

In an act of good will, navy officials have rescued 4 cats from a ship that had caught fire and began to sink about 13 kilometres off Koh Adang in the southern province of Satun. The ship’s 8 member crew had jumped off the sinking vessel and were rescued by a passing fishing ship, but the cats were left onboard.

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