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Phuket Gazette: Sides vying for military support; Nasa plan; Slain nurse’s mum to talk to ICC lawyer

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Phuket Gazette: Sides vying for military support; Nasa plan; Slain nurse’s mum to talk to ICC lawyer | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

All sides vying for military support

Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: In the face of a political tug of war, the opposing camps are trying to claim the military as a prize trophy.

It is strange but true that the army is a fixture in the political landscape even though all leading figures, including the top brass, keep saying troops should remain in their barracks.

The struggle between then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his opponents in 2005 ended up in a coup the following year.

After the junta faded out in 2007, political strife escalated under successive civilian governments from 2008 to 2010. The yellow shirts were involved in street protests, culminating in the October 2008 bloodshed and the seizure of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports a month later.

The red shirts descended on the streets in 2009 and 2010 causing tragic losses in a number of violent incidents.

Two former Army chiefs, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin and General Anupong Paochinda, were key players in the political strife. And the incumbent holder of the Army torch, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is balancing on a tightrope in order to keep his troops from taking sides in the prevailing polarization.

Will he succeed where his two predecessors failed? More importantly, how long can he steer clear of polarization when all sides have already viewed the military under various shades of political color?

The red and yellow shirts, as well as the opposition Democrat and ruling Pheu Thai parties, all play up the military card for the sake of political expediency.

Despite a clear voting outcome in the 2007 general election, the anti- and pro-government camps are gearing for a showdown over issues like reconciliation and charter change, which are linked to the granting of an amnesty for Thaksin.

Prayuth is right at the vortex of a brewing political storm. The Pheu Thai Party and its red-shirt allies are determined to push for a charter rewrite, which will in turn generate Thaksin’s amnesty. The opposition movement, comprising the Democrats and yellow shirts, is equally firm on pulling the plug on an amnesty for Thaksin.

Tension has been building up, as evidenced by the mushrooming of politically-motivated litigation and the increasing number of political rallies. The actual showdown between the anti- and pro-government camps should coincide with the planned referendum vote on new charter next year.

The pro-government camp has been keeping Prayuth on a tight leash through handlers like Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and red-leaning Defence permanent secretary General Sathian Permtong-in.

The red-shirt leaders, including Jatuporn Promphan and Kokaew Pikulthong, often rely on anti-coup comments to rein in the military.

The anti-government camp, particularly the People’s Alliance for Democracy, has reminded the military of its sacred duties to safeguard the country and uphold the monarchy, in a bid to sway the soldiers to its side.

Last week the Democrats voiced disappointment at Prayuth and other top commanders for siding with the government on the issue of NASA’s request to conduct climate research from U-tapao airbase.

Faced with increasing volatility, Prayuth appears to have adopted a survival strategy of sweet-talking to all sides while keeping true options close to his chest.

He has dispatched his deputy, General Dapong Ratanasuwan, to keep the opposition happy, and designated his chief-of-staff, General Sirichai Distakul, to keep an eye on political developments and work with the pro-government camp.

Under his watch, the Internal Security Operations Command has meanwhile turned blind while the opposing camps are building up mass movements to sway public sentiment.

Unfortunately, he appears to have chosen the role of an uninterested observer awaiting retirement, instead of giving his all to end the bitter social division.

NASA plan may face Parliament scrutiny

Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: A weather research project proposed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) may not get a chance to take off from U-tapao this year, as Foreign Minister Surapong Towichuk-chaikul said yesterday the Cabinet was likely to decide today to put the proposal to Parliament.

“To ensure it is clear, I think the government should put it through the Parliament in accordance with Article 190 of the Constitution,” Surapong told reporters.

Putting the proposal to Parliament would delay the project. NASA had hoped to use three weather surveillance aircraft in August and September this year. But Parliament doesn’t have its next session till August 1. The government is authorized to put the proposal on the agenda for the next session but it would take time to process it.

If the government did not put the NASA project to Parliament, the opposition or Senate might ask the Constitution or Administrative Court to rule whether allowing it to go ahead was unconstitutional, Surapong said. If the proposal was involved in a legal dispute, it would be delayed, he said.

The Council of State and the Foreign Ministry’s Treaties and Legal Affairs departments suggested earlier that the NASA project did not need approval from the Parliament since it involved no change in territory or sovereignty over territory.

The NASA research project became a hot political issue after the opposition Democrat Party accused the government of offering U-tapao to the US in exchange for a visa for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It demanded the government debate the issue in Parliament for transparency.

Many lawmakers said the project might have some implication on national security as the US might have a hidden agenda or a military desire to contain China in the Asia-Pacific region.

The NASA project was mixed up with a Pentagon idea to use U-tapao as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training and readiness center. The idea is still far from fleshed out as Thai and US officials only agreed in Washington recently to set up a working group to jointly develop the plan to explore possibilities to set up such a center.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Obama administration revamped its Asian strategy in response to a rising China, and that the military was weighing a return to some familiar bases from its last conflict in Southeast Asia, the Vietnam War.

The lack of information has bred suspicion in the Thai media and among opposition lawmakers, who have held up a separate project that would allow NASA to operate climate-change surveillance flights from U-tapao this fall, it said.

Surapong yesterday discussed the NASA project with US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney to inform her about the government’s decision and the Thai constitutional process.

Ambassador Kenney insisted that the climate project was purely scientific and that NASA is a civilian agency with no connection to the military. The result of the research would be released to the public and all people could access it, she said. However, the US respected the Thai government’s decision and the cooperation between the two countries in many fields would continue, she said.

Surapong said he was not sure if the project could begin next year as time for this year was running out.

Indeed, the project was raised back in September 2010 during the Democrat governmen

— 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.

Thailand

Thailand News Today | Immigration deadline, quarantine update?, arrests averted | October 30

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Thailand News Today | Immigration deadline, quarantine update?, arrests averted | October 30 | The Thaiger

Last day of the week and all the main stories from around Thailand. Thailand News Today, a bit late today but here it is…

Some immigration offices open tomorrow for last minute visa extensions

The latest amnesty is up tomorrow (October 31) and some immigration offices will be open for those who still need sort out their visa extensions.

Those who miss the deadline could face fines for overstay, immigration officials warn. The extensions all go into effect from November 1 and allow a 60 day stay.

Some immigration offices that are typically closed on Saturdays will be open tomorrow for those filing for extensions. Immigration Bureau commissioner Sompong Chingduang says immigration offices on Chaeng Watthana Road in Bangkok and at Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi, just outside Bangkok city, will be open tomorrow from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Check with your local immigration office.

Court rejects bid to arrest activists who led march on German Embassy

A bid to apprehend 5 anti-government activists who led a march to the Germany Embassy on Monday has failed, after a court in Bangkok rejected a police application for arrest warrants.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court has turned down the application for arrest warrants.

The 5 would have faced charges of sedition and other offences. But the court told officials to instead issue a summons, given that the protesters are students who only gathered for a short time and are unlikely to flee.

On Monday, protesters marched to the German Embassy to submit a petition calling on the country’s government to investigate whether Thailand’s Head of State conducted official business while in Germany. Which nicely segues to the next story…

German government does not believe the Thai Monarch broke the law on conducting state affairs

The German government does not believe the Thai Monarch broke the law on conducting state affairs during his time in the German state of Bavaria.

Germany says His Majesty the King has not violated the European country’s ban on conducting foreign politics on German soil where he resides. The government in Berlin briefed lawmakers this week, saying the Thai Monarch is allowed make occasional decisions regarding Thai state affairs, but he cannot continuously conduct business from overseas.

So far, the German government says they do not believe the King Maha Vajiralongkorn “continuously” conducted Thailand state business during his residence in Bavaria.

PM to visit Phuket on Monday as island’s economy lies in tatters

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is heading to Phuket on Monday, where he will meet with local business leaders and discuss proposals to help revive the southern island’s devastated tourism sector.

Despite Phuket Models and any number of promises from the Thai tourism sector, Phuket remains in a perilous situation whilst the government keeps its borders closed. Almost 100% of Phuket’s economy is derived directly or indirectly from tourist traffic.

Health officials propose reducing quarantine to 10 days

Health officials are suggesting cutting mandatory quarantine for international arrivals to 10 days. We’ve heard it all before but the idea has risen to the top of the Health Minister’s file again.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the proposal will be submitted to the CCSA for approval. It’s hoped that a reduction in the quarantine period could help revive Thailand’s battered tourism sector. Only a tiny handful of STV tourists have arrived on the the tourist visa over the past month. The health minister said…

”The priority now is to strike a balance between people’s health and the economy. Thailand still has to rely on foreign tourists. Re-opening the country to foreign visitors will help put the economy back on track.”

The Minister didn’t say where all these tourists might come from or speculate when a reduction on the quarantine period might be introduced.

Police arrest woman for allegedly selling fashion dental retainers

Police have arrested a woman for allegedly selling and fitting fashion dental retainers and braces.

Police seized equipment used for making dental casts and retainers found at her home in Ratchaburi and charged the 27 year old with illegally fitting fashion dental retainers.

The woman has allegedly been selling the retainers on a Facebook page under the name since November 2017, targeting mostly teenage students.

In Thailand, braces and retainers are a fashion trend and also seen as a symbol of wealth. The Thaiger suggests that if you want a set of straight teeth, go to an orthodontist.

Floods in NE Thailand as Vietnam mops up after typhoon

Flooding persists in four north eastern provinces, including Nakhon Rachasima as of this morning. All in the wake of the weakening tropical depression that crossed the Vietnamese coast on Wednesday as Typhoon Molave.

‘Molave’ was the most powerful typhoon to hit Vietnam in 20 years. The remnants of the tropical depression are now centred over the west of Thailand where it continues to drop plenty of rain.

At least 35 people are dead, 100s injured, and 50+ missing in Vietnam as disaster mitigation authorities are now reaching some of the worst hit areas in central Vietnam.

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Dengue Fever

Lockdown may contribute to Thailand’s rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests

Caitlin Ashworth

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Lockdown may contribute to Thailand’s rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikipedia

Social distancing and lockdown measures may have contributed to a rise in dengue fever in Thailand, according to a recent study funded by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council.

Researchers, which included scientists from the University of Singapore, examined dengue fever cases in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. No impact on the dengue transmission was found in Malaysia or Singapore, but in Thailand, they found that social distancing may lead to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. They say the largest impact is in Bangkok Researchers say social distancing is expected to lead to 4.32 additional dengue fever cases per 100,000 people in Thailand each month.

Many people in Thailand stayed at home during lockdown measures put in place to control the spread to the coronavirus, but the study found that people in Thailand are typically bitten by dengue-carrying mosquitos at home rather than at work. Some people even travelled back home to their home provinces to be with their families during the lockdown period.

“Although it is possible for dengue infections to occur in workplaces, it was found in one study that 60% of dengue cases live less than 200m apart came from the same transmission chain, revealing that residential areas are a focal point of transmission.”

Reported dengue fever cases in 2019

Lockdown may contribute to Thailand's rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests | News by The Thaiger

Reported dengue fever cases in 2020

Lockdown may contribute to Thailand's rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests | News by The Thaiger

To read the full study click HERE.

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Thailand

Man arrested for allegedly driving with monitor lizards tied to his motorbike

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for allegedly driving with monitor lizards tied to his motorbike | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A man was arrested on animal abuse charges for allegedly catching water monitor lizards, tying them to his motorbike and driving around Prachuap Khri Khan, south of Phetchaburi province.

The man, who is identified as Chaowalit, posted photos on Facebook of lizards tied up to the back of his motorbike. One photo shows a large monitor lizard tied up to the back of the bike, hanging upside-down. Apparently, Chaowalit has been posting photos for about 4 months now on Facebook page on wildlife hunting.

Officials from the Kui Buri National Park were notified about the photos and a team of special unit officers were sent to Chaowalit’s house to arrest him. He was charged with catching and harming protected wildlife as well as violating the Wild Animal Reservation Protection Act. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to 1 million baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

Catch up with the latest daily “Thailand News Today” here on The Thaiger.

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