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Junta takes key role for peace talks in South

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Junta takes key role for peace talks in South | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Junta takes key role for peace talks in South
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Almost a month after seizing power from a civilian government, the military has taken on the role of initiating peace talks with separatists in the southern border region.

The move is part of the restructuring of state agencies responsible for dealing with security affairs and the insurgency problem in the deep South.

The military will take over the key role of initiating policies and negotiations relating to the restive region, and they will not allow politicians or political appointees to dominate such matters as was the case in the past, according to an Army source.

On Wednesday, there was a meeting of representatives from the relevant security agencies. These included the National Security Council (NSC), Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC), and National Intelligence Agency. The participants discussed the framework and structure of the strategy for dealing with the insurgency problem.

The military has a blueprint on a new structure of the relevant agencies for tackling the problems, the source said yesterday.

The security agencies will convene their next meeting next Monday, when the new structure will be revealed, the source said, adding that further discussion is required to “design in detail a mechanism for peace talks”.

As part of the new structure, junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha will head the policy-making section and work with the NSC in dealing with problems in the South.

The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will issue orders or announcements about the legal status of future peace talks to ensure the continuation of the process, the source said yesterday.

The NCPO views the peace talks as important and will attempt to get rid of obstacles that have hampered previous negotiations, according to the source. However, the ruling junta would not allow the idea of autonomy to be raised during future talks, the source added.


Malaysian role

The Malaysian government will be invited by Thai authorities to act as a facilitator in future talks with Muslim separatists in the deep South, according to the source.

During the tenure of the ousted government led by the Pheu Thai Party, there were peace talks with insurgents in the deep South. The talks, said to be initiated by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, failed to lead to an accord between the opposing sides.

Prayuth yesterday approved in principle a new structure for administering the southern border provinces, according to Isoc spokesman Colonel Banphot Pooppian.

Banphot said Prayuth believed that the new structure would better facilitate operations to solve problems and tackle insurgency. He said the new structure would also integrate the operations of all agencies from policy-level to field operation level and would ensure consistency in the operations. The new structure has three levels – policy level, intermediary committee and field operation level.

The policy-level structure is headed by Prayuth himself and has the NSC as its adviser, Banphot said.

The policy board will be in charge of drawing up policies for dealing with the situation in the region from 2015 to 2017, he said.

The intermediary committee, meanwhile, is chaired by the deputy Army chief with the NSC secretary-general as its secretary.

It will be in charge of integrating operations of all agencies. Isoc and the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) would be the main agencies responsible for integrating operations. They would also be accountable for related ministries and problem-solving projects with regard to national security.

The operation level will be under the responsibility of Isoc Area 4, Banphot said. The SBPAC would establish a SBPAC forward command as a unit under the Isoc Area 4 forward command, he added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Some Covid-19 restrictions relaxed across Thailand, fewer “dark red” provinces

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/PR Thai Government

The Thai government has relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions across the country, while downgrading the risk level of a number of provinces. The number of provinces designated as “strictly controlled” areas, or “dark red” zones, has been reduced from 6 to 4. They are Bangkok and the central provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

So, what, if anything, has changed where you are? Below is a summary of the situation across the country, courtesy of TAT News.

The “red zone” or “maximum control” areas now consist of the following 17 provinces:

Central Thailand: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, and Samut Sakhon

Eastern Thailand: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong

Northern Thailand: Tak

Southern Thailand: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Ranong, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Yala.

There are now 56 provinces designated as “orange” or “controlled areas”, up from 26. They are as follows:

Central Thailand: Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri

Eastern Thailand: Chanthaburi, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, and Trat

Northern Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Nakhon Sawan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and Uttaradit

North-Eastern Thailand: Amnat Charoen, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Yasothon

Southern Thailand: Chumphon, Krabi, Pattani, Phang Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Satun, and Trang.

Restaurants across the country can now resume in-house dining, with various restrictions based on their risk status. In the dark red zones, dining in is permitted until 9pm, with take away service allowed until 11pm. In red zones, dining in has been extended to 11pm. In orange zones, dining-in hours can return to normal. Of note, however, is that the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in restaurants remains in force across the country.

All other disease prevention measures remain in place, including mandatory mask-wearing outside of the home and the closure of “high risk” venues such as nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, and massage parlours. Department stores, shopping malls and community malls must close by 9pm and refrain from holding promotional activities.

In dark red zones, there is a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, with this number extended to 50 people in red and orange zones. In Phuket, an orange zone, officials have stipulated a ban on people visiting each other’s homes, with only those residing at a property permitted to be there.

In dark red and red provinces, convenience stores and markets can only open between 4am and 11pm, while they can return to normal operating hours in orange zones. In addition, people in dark red zones are urged to cancel interprovincial travel or to submit to strict health screening. Businesses in the private sector are asked to allow employees work from home if possible.

SOURCE: TAT News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths

Tim Newton

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Today the public health department has reported 3,394 new cases and 29 new Covid-related deaths. 1,498 of today’s cases come from Thailand’s prisons (more below). Taking the shameful inmate toll out of the equation and the trend is still steady with around 2,000 – 2,500 new cases each day over the past 3 weeks across Thailand.

Around the world the trends for new infections and deaths are starting to fall quite quickly.

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths | News by Thaiger

• Roll up, roll up your sleeves. But the Thai PM says… hold on! PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has poured cold water on walk-in vaccination centres for Covid vaccinations. In the past week the public health department has been rushing to set up private vaccination locations around the country to hasten the roll out of vaccines for the first public vaccine category next month.

PM Prayut told a cabinet meeting yesterday he didn’t prefer the idea of the walk-in centres (Central Lad Phrao was already to open as yesterday) because “people would turn up in droves causing chaos”. He was particularly worried about centre around Bangkok where there is a population of 8 million+

The PM has asked that the Mor Prom app is working properly with registrations preferred so the Government can monitor the demand and act accordingly. The government says they’re working on an English, and other languages, version of Mor Prom to open registration for non-Thais soon.

• The Department of Corrections reports that there are now 11,670 prisoners infected with Covid in 13 prisons across Thailand.

• A major Japanese medical association is calling on Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Games are set to start on July 23.

The appeal, made in a letter to Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and comes amid concerns that the health-care system in Asia’s second-largest economy cannot accommodate both the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media while fighting yet another spike in coronavirus infections.

• The Chon Buri (including Pattaya) public health officials announced 39 new and confirmed cases of Covid and 1 more death today. According to The Pattaya News, “officials are asking for the public to remain working from home if possible and especially to avoid small social gatherings with people who are not members of your own household until the situation improves”.

As usual we will have an update of all the provincial totals this afternoon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | FRB

 

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Pattaya

20 people arrested at Pattaya restaurant for allegedly violating alcohol ban

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Bence Boros for Unsplash

Police in Pattaya arrested 20 people last night at a local restaurant where alcohol was reportedly being sold. While Chon Buri recently eased disease control restrictions, now allowing restaurants in the province to offer dine-in services again, alcohol sales and consumption at restaurants are still prohibited.

Saewana restaurant was raided at around 11pm last night by officers from Pattaya and the Banglamung district station. Alcohol was served in glasses and the bottles were hidden, police say.

Pattaya News says all 20 people at the restaurant were arrested, including the owner. They face charges for allegedly violating the provincial disease control order. Those who violate the Emergency Decree could face a hefty fine or even imprisonment.

A police officer who spoke to a Pattaya News reporter said that there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption at restaurants as the policy has been made clear to the public.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

 

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