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

Net spreads wider over UFUN
The Nation / Phuket Gazette


PHUKET: Investigation into allegedly fraudulent schemes linked to UFUN Co Ltd’s purported branch UFUN Thailand will expand to cover another three or four related firms, as well as focus on 30 key suspects, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) told the police yesterday.

Meanwhile, assistant national police chief Lt Gen Suwira Songmetta said the damages could be as high as 38 billion baht worldwide and that 110 people had so far filed police complaints against the firm in Thailand.

The Consumer Protection Police Division now has some 400 officers in charge of receiving complaints to prepare for the 45 or so more complainants that were expected to come forward later yesterday.

DSI deputy chief Col Paisit Wongmuang said the three or four companies in question were linked to Malaysia-based U-Fun Store and that there were another 30 key suspects.

Pol Major Suriya Singhakamol, director of the DSI Bureau of Technology and Cyber Crimes, said the information provided to the police came from a technical investigation, the result of which matched the 20 suspects for whom arrest warrants have already been issued.

He said these suspects have apparently changed their identities between three to five times, adding that the DSI probe would be conducted alongside that of the police.

Gen Suriya said the DSI probe learned that U-Fun Store had allegedly set up three or four branches, which purportedly followed the same operating system down to using the U-Token currency for trading.

Gen Suwira, who is leading the investigation, said police has handed over 200 million baht of assets seized, including 16mn baht cash, to the Anti-Money Laundering Office for further investigation and possibly auction in order to compensate the victims.

He also called on the media to attend a press conference scheduled to be held in Malaysia by UFUN executives, ask questions and pass the information onto Thai police. He said police had also asked their counterparts in Malaysia to locate three Malaysian fugitives and check on the background of the fugitive identified as Arthit Pankaew, who was reportedly involved in fraud cases in both Malaysia and China.

In response to some UFUN Thailand members’ call for justice and claims that the company is innocent, Gen Suwira said police was proceeding according to law and had gathered evidence before six suspects in custody were arrested. He said that police would be able to submit the case to public prosecutors by next month.

Meanwhile, a check by Malaysian newspaper The Star shows that the UFUN office in Kuala Lumpur has been emptied, though there are many notices on its door. A building receptionist, who refused to be identified, said the office had been empty for more than six or seven months.

“We never see anybody there. Sometimes people come into the office to ask for UFUN, but it is always empty. Even the mailman cannot deliver packages to the office,” she said.

The Star reported that UFUN Co Ltd’s executive chairman Daniel Tay has denied allegations that his company was involved in fraudulent practices in all of its businesses and said he would cooperate with the Thai authorities and respect the law following the crackdown.

“We’ll cooperate with the Thai government and provide necessary information needed to clarify that we are innocent,” he said in a YouTube clip recently.

In the nine-minute video, Mr Tay claimed: “The business will continue to grow and we will take care of those who have U-Tokens. We have no intention to cheat our members’ hard-earned money. I advise our members in Thailand to calm down for the moment.”

He said although UFUN Thailand’s account has been frozen temporarily, the company assured that it would be paying its member’s withdrawals.

“The company will not reject any withdrawals unless in special cases like technical problem, lack of information or manpower,” he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Digital Travel Pass, Chiang Mai outbreak, Alcohol ban | November 30

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Thailand News Today | Digital Travel Pass, Chiang Mai outbreak, Alcohol ban | November 30 | The Thaiger

Monday’s edition of Thailand News Today.

An international Digital Travel Pass could be the magic bullet to restart global tourism

A new international Travel Pass, a sort of digital health certificate, may be the way forward for countries to re-open their borders and international airlines to get their planes back into the air.

The International Air Transport Association says the ‘digital’ certificate will support the safe reopening of borders.

As Covid-19 testing and the results becomes more reliable and nuanced, Governments are looking to testing as a means of limiting most of risks of Covid-19 when reopening their borders. The hope is that the new Travel Pass will replace the quarantine regime imposed by many countries and the hopes that a vaccine alone will solve the problems.

2 more cases identified in the northern Thailand Covid-19 mini outbreak

2 more people have been confirmed as infected with Covid-19 in the current mini-outbreak in Northern Thailand.

In this case both women had crossed the Thai/Myanmar border and worked at the same bar in Myanmar as the original patient, feared to be a potential super-spreader.

The 2 women, aged 23 and 26, illegally crossed the Burmese border at Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, from a border town on the Burmese side of the border, last Thursday night.

All 3 went to work there last month, but returned to Thailand after Burmese health authorities imposed a curfew from midnight to 4am.

Another 4 people have since been identified as “high risk” and are all being tested today. When added to the food delivery and hotel staff, the amount of people considered “at risk” could be up to 30.

Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted

3 children were injured when a carnival ride malfunctioned at the Hua Hin Red Cross Festival in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The required safety certification had not been submitted and local officials are investigating. Carnival rides now are closed for the rest of the festival.

10 children were on the ride around 10pm Friday when the hydraulics system broke, causing the arms of the ride to drop to the ground. The injured were taken to the Bangkok Hua Hin Hospital with some bruises. Doctors said all the kids are now fine.

Twitter suspends Thai royalist linked account which spread pro-government propaganda

A Thai royalist-linked account was suspended on Twitter following a review by Reuters reporters that found the account was spreading pro-government and pro-monarchy propaganda.

Reuters says they found tens of thousands of tweets from accounts amplifying the pro-government agenda, which an expert claims is a move to counter the pro-democracy movement.

Twitter said… “The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation.”

In October, Twitter suspended 926 accounts linked to the Royal Thai Army which were “amplifying pro-government propaganda.” The Army denies they were associated with the accounts.

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million for a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story.

The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard and will start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate and landscape.

Thirteen Lives follows the story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the 13 members of the Mu Pa football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, and the international rescue that followed.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ban on sales and promotion of alcohol online starts December 7

From December 7 you’ll no longer, officially, be able to purchase alcohol online in Thailand.

The Thai government will prohibit the sales and promotion of alcoholic drinks on every online platform from December 7.

The ban includes direct sales, promotion and introduction of alcoholic products online, but will not include electronic payments of purchases at retail stores, restaurants and bars.

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Crime

Police officer allegedly shoots and kills married couple, injures ex-wife at Isaan restaurant

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police officer allegedly shoots and kills married couple, injures ex-wife at Isaan restaurant | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

A police officer was arrested for allegedly firing shots in an Isaan restaurant, killing a married couple and severely injuring his ex-wife. 44 year old Aram Sangchai is facing charges of premeditated murder.

Aram had just returned home to the Isaan province Buri Ram from Bangkok after working with a police unit at the November 27 pro-democracy protest. The Bangkok Post says Aram “stormed” into the restaurant with a handgun and opened fire. He waited at the restaurant and surrendered to police.

The victims were taken to the Non Suwan Hospital where Jaran and Somkid Sukwong, ages 42 and 37, were pronounced dead. Aram’s ex-wife, 42 year old Nucharin Kaewchaturat, was transferred to Buri Ram Hospital and is in serious condition.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Hua Hin

Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted

Caitlin Ashworth

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Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

3 children were injured when a carnival ride malfunctioned at the Hua Hin Red Cross Festival in Prachuap Khiri Khan. The required safety certification was not submitted and local officials are investigating, according to Mayor Nopphon Wutthikul. Carnival rides now are closed for the duration of the festival.

“Preliminary inspection revealed that they had yet to submit safety certification signed by licensed engineers from related government agencies. We will further investigate this matter to find out if there was misconduct by any official.”

The children were on an octopus amusement ride when the hydraulics system failed. Children rode in colourful cars attached to arms that arch and connect to a central axis, resembling the shape of an octopus. The central axis spins and goes up and down.

10 children were on the ride around 10pm Friday when the hydraulics system broke, according to the festival organiser Pannee Klomtheri. A Facebook user made a post saying she saw the ride collapse. Pannee says the injuries are not serious.

“Three children were injured and were sent to Bangkok Hua Hin Hospital with some bruises. Doctors said all the kids are now fine. There was no death caused by the incident.”

Pannee says the octopus ride and other nearby rides will be closed while local officials inspect the site. The festival ends on December 6.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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