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Japanese man sought in surrogacy scam flees

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Japanese man sought in surrogacy scam flees
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A young Japanese man has left Thailand after emerging evidence suggests he might have played a key role in a surrogacy gang.

Thailand does not yet have specific laws to control surrogacy. Legislation has been drafted and is expected to be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly.

The Medical Council, however, bans paid surrogacy and requires surrogate mothers be either in-laws or relatives of couples seeking help. Doctors who fail to comply risk losing their medical licences.

Some related laws may also be used to take action against those involved, such as the owners of facilities where surrogacy services are provided.

Shigeta Mitsutoki, 24, flew out of Thailand at 1am yesterday after he was identified as the father of nine babies living in the same condo in Bangkok’s Lat Phrao district. Police checked the condo on Tuesday in response to tips from locals.

Thais have become acutely aware of the darker side of surrogacy in the wake of the huge media coverage over Gammy, a baby boy with Down syndrome allegedly abandoned by an Australian couple. They reportedly hired a Thai woman to be a surrogate mother but left Thailand only with Gammy’s healthy twin sister.

After Gammy’s case became big news, locals alerted officials about the nine babies.

Officials have placed the babies, each aged no more than one, under the care of the Pakkred Babies’ Home.

“None of them have received visits from relatives,” said Benjamas Sonsri, an official at the state-run facility.

A police investigation found that Mitsutoki had travelled in and out of Thailand 65 times during the past two years.

On several occasions in the past, security-camera footage at Suvarnabhumi Airport had showed him carrying a baby as he left the airport. “When he came in, he stated he was going to stay at a luxury hotel,” a police source said.

According to the source, Mitsutoki also reported that he had lost his old passport and he had lately travelled with a newly issued one. When he left Thailand early yesterday, his reported destination was Macau.

Police say they are checking whether Mitsutoki is really involved in surrogacy and whether his actions are offences under relevant laws such as those banning human trafficking.

Health Service Support Department director-general Boonrueang Trairueangworarat said that while there were no specific laws on surrogacy in Thailand, there were related applicable laws.

“For example, advertisements about surrogacy services are legal offences,” he said.

Boonrueang said there were 45 authorised facilities for fertility treatments and just 240 authorised practitioners in Thailand.

He added that authorised facilities that failed to comply with the Medical Council’s regulations could be punished under the Medical Facilities Act, which required them to ensure medical workers at their facility delivered services in line with proper standards.

“Offenders face a jail term of up to one year and a maximum fine of Bt20,000,” he said, as he announced progress in the case involving Superior ART clinic, which allegedly conducted the surrogacy service for the Australian couple.

Medical Council secretary-general Dr Somsak Loklekha said the council had received complaints against two doctors who provided surrogacy service for the couple. “We will launch a probe,” he said.

Many infertile foreigners have reportedly come to Thailand to use surrogates. The fee is about Bt1 million, according to sources, while the fee in other countries is much higher. For example, a couple seeking surrogacy services in the United States will likely have to pay well over Bt4 million.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand News Today | German Embassy rally, permanent residency prospect, crowds in Pattaya | Oct 26

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | German Embassy rally, permanent residency prospect, crowds in Pattaya | Oct 26 | The Thaiger

Today’s latest news from The Thaiger, looking at the latest in the protests, a surge of crowds in Pattaya and the latest proposals from the Thai government to increase a new stream of revenue.

Permanent residency, changes to quarantine period – Government mulls strategies to revive economy

Thailand’s energy minister has outlined a number of new strategies the government is discussing tohelp the Thai economy recover from the fallout of Covid-19 fallout.

Permanent residency for some condo purchases, changes to the mandatory quarantine and incentives for foreign investment are all under discussion.

The Eastern Economic Corridor, the special economic zone covering the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao, continues to eye foreign investors with a number of large infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Of particular interest in the topics for discussion are that the government is considering offering permanent residency to people buying condos in the Kingdom, provided they don’t mortgage, transfer, or sell the units within 5 years of purchase.

In relation to foreign arrivals, he says the government will clarify its plans on any further reduction in quarantine time. He says that if the current 14 day quarantine period is to be reduced, this would only apply to those coming from countries considered “low risk” for Covid-19. It’s understood the Public Health Ministry is working on categorising countries into low, medium, and high risk.

Parliament in the middle of a 2 day session to discuss political impasse

An opposition spokesperson opened the special joint session of parliament today with a call for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down, as anti-government protesters continued to keep up their pressure.

Mr Sompong also called for the release of detained protesters as a goodwill gesture to try and end the current impasse. “ He said… The prime minister should be open-minded to the young protesters’demands, and stop delaying the process of writing of a new constitution.”

Meanwhile a Palang Pracharath Party MP Paiboon Nititawan defended the PM saying the country needed his leadership to get through the economic crisis and to protect the institution of the monarchy, which was under attack by protesters.

Protesters march on German Embassy in Sathorn Road

Meanwhile protesters gathered at the Sam Yan intersection today at 5pm, near Chulalongkorn University, and marched to the Germany embassy on Sathorn Road, to submit a controversial petition.

Protesters are asking German authorities to look into whether His Majesty the King had violated German sovereignty by exercising his power from German soil. It is the first time a foreign government has been targeted by the anti-governmentprotesters.

Protesters say the intention is to push for the restoration a “truly” constitutional monarchy in Thailand, under law.

A ‘spoiler’ rally is also underway by government supporters and ‘royalists’ at Lumpini Park, right in the middle of the march route to the German Embassy.

Protesters massed at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok last night

Last night crowds gathered at the Ratchprasong intersection, one of the promised locations for a rally in response to Saturday night’s refusal of the Thai PM to resign. Thousands gathered, mostly along the Ratchadamri Road, to hear speeches and musical performances.

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

Whilst blocking the intersection for 3 hours, with little police presence, the protesters disbanded peacefully just after sunset.

Pattaya springs back to life over the long weekend, more to come

Pattaya, struggling along for the past 7 months with a handful of domestic tourists and Bangkok weekenders, has had its busiest weekend for a long time, albeit a long weekend created by the public holiday in commemoration of King Chulongkorn.

Much of the increased traffic were Thai faces, a big change to the city’s old demographic of international tourists and expats.

Tourists flocked to the city for the long weekend which included the Eastern Colorful Food, Culture and Music festival stretching along the Beach Road foreshore.

The focus of the weekend’s events was the Beach Road which was visibly busy with locals and tourists joining in the foreshore festival, talent shows, music concerts and local food.

Schools advised to improve online learning in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Thailand schools are told to get ready for a possible second wave of Covid-19 and prepare to for lockdown measures, just in case, to make sure all children have equal access to education.

A Thai economist warns that the education gap between rich children in urban areas and poor children in rural areas could widen if schools are shut down again and resort to the same online learning measures tried out months ago.

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Thailand

Expert says all rail crossings should be upgraded after fatal train-bus collision

Caitlin Ashworth

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Expert says all rail crossings should be upgraded after fatal train-bus collision | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: @pr8riew

After the fatal freight train-charter bus collision earlier this month, authorities are looking into ways to make the rail crossings safer and to prevent potentially deadly incidents from happening in the future.

An expert in rail engineering says all rail crossings need to upgraded, urgently, while unofficial or illegal crossings should either be permanently closed off or upgraded with the proper safety equipment. Unofficial crossings are those that are used by locals, but are not approved by the State Railways of Thailand.

Chairperson of the Rail Engineering Committee at the Engineering Institute of Thailand, Rattapoohm Parichatprecha, gave suggestions about how to improve the rail crossings after an incident in Chachoengsao. On October 10, a train collided with a charter bus crossing the railway, killing 18 and injuring 44 who were on their way to a merit-making ceremony. Officials say the signal was broken and the crossing didn’t have a barrier gate to block traffic.

Then, a passenger train collided with a car, killing a woman and injuring 2 others at a railway crossing in Phetchaburi’s Khao Yai district on October 15.

The State Railway of Thailand says an average of 77 railway crossing incidents happen each year, killing an average of 28 people yearly and injuring 74. Some crossings are known as “black spots” where accidents occur more frequently, sometimes up to 4 times a year.

Rattapoohm says all legal crossings upgrade the warning signs and barricades, but warns that revamping the crossings could be expensive. In a previous report, Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob acknowledged that the State Railways of Thailand’s budget to install railroad crossing gates has been cut.

The size of the rail crossing as well as the direction also comes into play, according to Rattapoohm.

“The width of the crossing must not be at least three metres. The road should also cut through the rail tracks in a straight line and not in a diagonal direction which would create blind spots.”

He says tree canopies must also be trimmed regularly to prevent branches and leaves from obstructing the view for both train conductors and drivers crossing the railway.

For illegal crossings, Rattapoohm says some can stay put since they are just used by the locals who are familiar with the terrain and know where the blind spots are, but says they should make sure the unofficial crossings stay off Google Maps.

“People outside the areas are unaware of the lurking danger the illegal crossings pose and many just follow directions in Google Map.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Schools advised to improve online learning in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Schools advised to improve online learning in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Equitable Education Fund Facebook

Thailand schools are told to get ready for a possible second wave of Covid-19 and prepare to for lockdown measures – just in case – to make sure all children have equal access to education. An economist warns that the education gap between rich children in urban areas and poor children in rural areas could widen if schools shut down again and resort to the same online learning measures tried out months ago.

In an online seminar called “My school and Covid-19,” human development economist Dilaka Lathapitate stressed that school closures and the switch to online learning during the lockdown period led to an increase in the country’s education disparity. Dilaka, from the education unit of the World Bank in Bangkok, says Thailand’s education system isn’t ready for another outbreak.

“The pandemic denied many children, particularly those in rural areas, learning and self-development opportunities.”

Thailand tried the “distance learning” experiment during the lockdown, but it was deemed a failure. Many in remote areas had problems like the lack of WiFi, faulty reception and limited to no access to working computers. At one point, hundreds of volunteers were sent out by the Equitable Education Fund teach children in remote areas.

Taking students out of the classrooms and moving to online learning hit poor students the hardest, according to chairperson of the Princess Maha Chakri Award Foundation, Krissanapong Kirtikara. He says those students are often the most in need of comprehensive support.

Thailand isn’t ready to implement online learning, Dilaka says. If there was another coronavirus outbreak, the education gap between the rich and the poor would likely widen due to access to technology. Dilaka cited a survey that showed a “digital divide” between children in urban and rural areas.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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