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Lawbreakers face tough action, Prayuth warns

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Lawbreakers face tough action, Prayuth warns
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday threatened tougher action against law violators, particularly opponents of the military’s power seizure, in a move that is in line with the junta’s priority of maintaining law and order.

Prayuth, however, did not answer a reporter’s question as to whether he would become interim prime minister.

“It’s not time yet [to discuss this]. There is a plan already for that. Be patient. There will definitely be a prime minister,” Prayuth said, adding that there would also be new Cabinet members.

He said the next election would be held “as soon as possible, when the situation permits” although he could not say when as it would depend on the situation.

Speaking at his first press conference since last Thursday’s power seizure, Prayuth said the junta would enact political reforms and focus on solving the country’s problems, starting with making overdue payments to rice farmers under the previous government’s rice price-pledging scheme. “We will set up new organisations to reform every aspect that causes problems and conflicts,” he told the press conference.”

He said he would name an interim prime minister and a legislative council to implement electoral reforms and measures aimed at bolstering the economy.

Earlier yesterday, Prayuth and other members of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took part in a ceremony to receive a royal command endorsing him as head of the NCPO.

Prayuth said that to maintain peace and order there would be “a more intense enforcement of the law” against resistance.

“If the situation improves, the different measures will be eased. Do not worry. We don’t want to cause problems for you,” he said. “We will focus on law violators, use of war weapons, resistance or any action that disrupts peace in the country.”

He said a curfew would remain in place from 10pm to 5am, as it was still needed, although people affected could inform the relevant authorities about their problems.

On Sunday, in a stern move to tighten security, the NCPO announced that any offences against the monarchy and national security, as well as violations of its orders, would be tried in a military court.

Hundreds of anti-coup protesters gathered at Victory Monument yesterday while a small group of pro-military demonstrators gathered at Democracy Monument. Another group of about 30 people, led by senior Foreign Ministry official Sasiwat Wongsinsawat, gathered near the ministry on Si Ayutthaya Road to offer moral support to the military.

At his press conference, Prayuth emphasised his full power to rule and called on the public to understand the military’s sincerity. He said they would do their best to solve problems as soon as possible.

“I’m not here to fight but to fix. I will do anything [to solve the problems],” he said, explaining the tough measures but stressing they were necessary.

“The less you allow me to speak, the more I’ll be able to work. Please be calm and patient, like you have always been. Crisis has plagued the country for nine years now.”

The NCPO chief also warned the media against amplifying conflicts. He said if the media used Facebook to create comments that escalated conflicts, the NCPO would summon them and media organisations would not be able to help.

He said he would start monitoring the media, Facebook and websites and would regard the posting of messages that incite conflict as violations against peace and order.

Referring to the summons to political figures, he said none of those asked to report were suffering, though their accommodation demonstrated to them how soldiers lived.

Prayuth said he would urgently form a team of experts to advise the NCPO in running the country.

He said the advisory team would have experts from various fields and would be the top-tier advisory panel. There would be also lower-level advisory teams to advise the NCPO members in charge of various tasks.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Merve Selcuk Simsek

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine is out.

Thailand’s borders won’t fully reopen to international tourists until a vaccine is widely available to the public, according to Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country.

“It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

The new Special Tourist Visa is an effort intended to help revive Thailand’s tourism industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the sector makes but about a fifth of the nation’s economy. Last year, the tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion baht with about 40 million foreign visitors. With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chairat predicts tourism revenue will drop 82.6% to 336.5 billion baht by the end of the year.

“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand. Updates and all the latest information from thethaiger.com.

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme will land in Phuket on October 8.

The flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

The resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine.

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

The Education Minister is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country.

34 out of 42 of the schools have had complaints filed against them. Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. The Thonburi school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, it’s now been revealed that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri.

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand as a teacher, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the Koh Chang resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against the 34 year old in 2017. He was accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar, and later at a convenience store, told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident.

Of course the man’s criminal record doesn’t prevent him from posting negative reviews but provides just a little more context to the ongoing saga between the hotel and Mr Barnes.

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government.

While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough “headaches” with one of his coalition partners.

Meanwhile Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation. Under the current constitution the Thai PM is elected by a parliamentary majority, and not automatically coming from the leader of the party with the most number of votes. But a coalition between Prayut and Pheu Thai does seem, at face value, extremely unlikely.

Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan

Around 10 people were hospitalised after a chemical tank spilled at a village in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok.

Those near the spill reported feeling nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Officials do not known what chemical was in the tank.

The 1 metre tank had been taken into the forest by 2 employees at a second hand shop who hoped they could take it apart and sell the scrap metal. The 2 employees fainted when the tank spilled. Trees and grass in a 100 metre radius of the chemical spill also died.

The chemical let off a strong odour and Thai media says the fumes spread to a nearby village. Those at the second hand shop, close by to the chemical spill, started to feel nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Some people reported skin rashes after the incident. Around 10 villagers, including children, were sent to hospital.

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Thailand

Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Esteban Lopez

Under a proposed law, Thailand farmers would be allowed to grow cannabis and hemp for export without going through cannabis certified universities or medical institutes. The National Farmers Council president Praphat Panyachatrak says he hopes the new law will be in place by next year. The legislation is still being reviewed by the Public Health Ministry and National Legislative Assembly, but Praphat says he expects an announcement will be made soon.

Thailand’s recent rush to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana follows the Bhumjaithai Party joining the government coalition in 2019, headed by current Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. His elected MPs provide essential votes for the fragile coalition. His party ran on a platform of legalising marijuana.

Thailand has been gearing up for the global cannabis trade with talk of classifying medical cannabis as an economic crop. The classification would allow the plant to be exported to other countries. The government has also talked about adding a variety of cannabis cultivars to keep up with the demanding cannabis industry.

The National Farmers Council has been advocating for the cultivation of cannabis and Praphat says the new law will make it easier for farmers to grow the plant. He adds that farmers would be able to get a permit to grow cannabis as soon as they got an order from overseas.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand and is considered a Category 5 narcotic. Those charged with distributing cannabis face 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine from 40,000 baht to 200,000 baht. Those caught distributing over 10 kilograms of cannabis face up to 15 years in prison and a fine from 200,000 baht to 1,500,000 baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Chiang Rai Times

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