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Fear of surrogacy being misused for stem cells

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Fear of surrogacy being misused for stem cells | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Fear of surrogacy being misused for stem cells
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Following the much-publicised case of the unauthorised surrogacy involving a Thai mother and an Australian couple, a raid by police and soldiers at a Bangkok condominium found nine babies thought to have been fathered by a Japanese man.

Former minister Paveen Hongsakul, who initiated the raid on Tuesday on Soi Lat Phrao 130, feared that in the worst-case scenario this “surrogacy-for-hire” scam may be related to the potentially fatal extraction of foetal fluid to provide stem cells.

She also called on authorities to investigate a case related to a woman who said she was paid for surrogate pregnancy, but lost the baby seven months into her pregnancy. Pavena wants investigators to find out if the foetus’s spinal fluid was extracted for the manufacture of cosmetics.

As for the nine babies found in the Lat Phrao condo, Pavena said most of them looked Caucasian, while only one had Asian features. The infants were between 15 and 50 days old. She urged surrogate mothers to contact her foundation, the police, the Social Development and Human Security Ministry that she previously led or the Public Health Ministry for help.

The police are now taking action, with national police chief Pol General Aek Angsananont saying yesterday that DNA-based paternal checks were underway.

Meanwhile, police are questioning a lawyer representing the unnamed Japanese man, who allegedly fathered the nine babies, as well as the seven nannies hired to take care of the infants. Another woman, who is six months into her pregnancy, is also being interviewed, he added.

Pol Colonel Chitphob Tomuen, a commander of the police Anti-Human Trafficking Division, said his division would help with the investigation and prepare to file charges against people who might be violating medical profession regulations.

Meanwhile, a senior physician specialising in fertility medicine, yesterday voiced his support for immediate verification of the nine babies’ DNA. Prof Dr Somboon Kunathikom, a former chairman of the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RTCOG), said the latest discovery was suspicious because usually children borne through surrogacy are adopted almost immediately by couples who foot the hospital bills.

Hence, he said, relevant agencies had to work together to find out if surrogate children were actually being taken care of or exploited in different ways.

The nine babies are now in a government home for children in Nonthaburi and will be kept there while police proceed with further investigation and DNA tests.

Medical Council to get tough

Dr Somsak Lolekha, chairman of the Medical Council of Thailand, vowed yesterday to take drastic action against cases of surrogacy if they are found to be violating medical profession regulations. This was after the latest case involving a baby boy with Down’s Syndrome, who was abandoned by an Australian couple, while his healthy twin sister was adopted.

Somsak also promised to push a bill that was initiated six years ago, which would pose strict penalties on women who agree to be hired for surrogate pregnancies, those violating existing medical regulations as well as those acting as go-betweens or playing any other role in the scam.

He said doctors, clinics or hospitals that perform unauthorised surrogacies will be held responsible under the general Medical Council of Thailand rules and be subject to penalty. “The bill [when made into law] will subject women willing to take part and all parties involved to strict penalty,” he added.

Existing regulations do not penalise women willing to take part in surrogate pregnancies, but only prohibit women from carrying babies if they are not related to the adoptive parents or do it for money. The law also stipulates that doctors not registered with RTCOG would be subject to a one-year imprisonment and/or a maximum Bt20,000 fine – and ultimately revocation of their licence if found guilty by the Medical Council of Thailand in a further investigation on grounds of morality and professional ethics.

Dr Kamthorn Pruksananonda, a senior RTCOG official, said doctors who performed unauthorised surrogacies could not claim innocence as they need to know all facts involving parents and surrogate mothers and scientifically-based details. The case of the abandoned boy is clearly a violation of surrogacy regulations, as the surrogate mother is a Thai and the parents are foreigners, he added.

Darren O’Malley, spokesman for the Western Australia Department for Child Protection, confirmed to AFP that an investigation has been launched.

“We have the power to remove children when there is significant and immediate concern over their welfare,” he added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Expats

Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple

May Taylor

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Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple | The Thaiger

The “OSS Foreigner” app is coming, and you will be able to use it for 90 day reporting, according to the Secretary-General at the office of the PM.

Dr Kobsak Pootrakool says the planned app can be used for all immigration reporting, including 90 day reports, adding that typing in the required data and uploading a selfie will accomplish the same result as filling out paperwork at the local immigration office but without having to make the trip there.

Dr Kobsak has been given responsibility for sorting out the TM30 debate and says the immigration app, called OSS Foreigner, is nearly complete and should make all those who live and work in Thailand feel more welcome and make compliance easier and more convenient.

The TM30 form, and its companion, the TM28, have been a source of expat displeasure over the past five months since the immigration department decided to enforce a little-used 1979 law that required foreigners to report their whereabouts if they had stayed overnight at an address different from their registered address.

This latest move comes as part of a wider program to make Thai public services more efficient, with Dr Kobsak making the announcement while outlining plans for all Thai government departments to embrace digital technology by as early as 2022. Meanwhile, the Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak is championing a programme to improve Thai public services for both Thai citizens and foreigners.

“The government’s new approach to IT and digital technology is designed to deliver a smarter, easier service as part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Crime

Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued

May Taylor

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Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued | The Thaiger

The Nation reports that 3 underage sex workers have been rescued after raids on a karaoke restaurant and a karaoke massage parlour in Ang Thong, central Thailand.

The raids were confirmed at a press conference held by Ronnarong Thipsiri, Head of the Department of Provincial Administration’s investigation and suppression division, along with Sakda Bandasak, sheriff of Ang Thong’s Muang district. Ronnarong alleges both premises were using the underage girls as prostitutes.

“We collaborated with Damrong Dhama Centre and anti-human trafficking organisations and learnt that two karaoke joints in Ang Thong were employing underage sex workers. These were the Chil Chil Karaoke on Highway No. 3064, Pa Ngiew sub district of Muang district, and Jittra Karaoke on the ground floor of a hotel in Muang district.”

During the raids, police identified 6 sex workers offering services to a group of customers. Four of the girls were Thai and two were from Laos. Three were under the age of 18, with the youngest being 15 years old. A large number of used condoms were also found.

Somjit Phetwijit and Aphirom Pheungpracha, the owners of Chil Chil Karaoke and Jittra Karaoke respectively were arrested and charged with human trafficking, solicitation of prostitution, prostitution of an underage person, and opening an entertainment facility without a licence.

A 17 year old girl from Jittra Karaoke told the press she was hired to sit and drink with clients and was paid 50 baht each time a client ordered a drink.

“Clients can buy sex for 1,500 baht a time or pay 3,500 baht for a whole night. They can either use massage rooms in the back or bring the girls to other hotels of their choice.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Business

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain

May Taylor

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Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand’s Santa Fe restaurant chain | The Thaiger

(…or is that a 90% ‘steak’?)

PHOTOS: Wongnai

DealStreetAsia, an investor news site reporting on Asian business, confirms that Singha Corporation has purchased a majority stake in the Thai restaurant chain, Santa Fe. It’s understood that Singha purchased the shares held by Lakeshore Capital for approximately US$50 million or 1.53 billion baht, giving it a 90% stake in the chain seen in most Thai shopping centres.

The Nation reports that Singha will now oversee over 110 restaurants across Thailand in one of the country’s biggest food industry deals of the year. The company first turned its attention to the food industry two years ago, launching Food Factors Company under the Boon Rawd Brewery group.

WongnaiFood Factors aims to make 5 billion baht over 3 years under the stewardship of Piti Bhirombhakdi. The company has an ambitious long-term target of 10 billion baht a year, along with plans to be listed on the stock exchange.

The Santa Fe chain was established in 2003 by Surachai Charn-Anudet’s KT Restaurant Company, with the aim of becoming a major competitor to Sizzler, the American chain brought to Thailand by Minor Food.

SOURCE: The Nation

Singha grabs a 90% stake in Thailand's Santa Fe restaurant chain | News by The Thaiger

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