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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Abhisit pleads not guilty to murder; Reform tussle; 2-yr-old shot in Pattani; DSI hits abortion-pill websites

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Abhisit pleads not guilty to murder; Reform tussle; 2-yr-old shot in Pattani; DSI hits abortion-pill websites | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ex-PM Abhisit pleads not guilty to murder charge
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is determined to appear in court to fight accusations that he is responsible for the deaths and injuries of many people during the bloody dispersal of red-shirt demonstrators in 2010.

He showed up at the Criminal Court yesterday to acknowledge charges that two deaths and one injury took place as a result of his order. He denied any wrongdoing.

“I would like to thank all the people who have opposed the amnesty bill. You have made it possible for me to prove my innocence. I trust the judicial system,” Abhisit said in a Facebook message yesterday.

Abhisit is being prosecuted on charges of conspiring to have others kill or attempt to kill another person during his tenure as prime minister. In 2010, while premier, his order led to the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) mobilising armed soldiers to reclaim areas occupied by red-shirt demonstrators. The military operations led to bloody clashes, which resulted in heavy casualties.

At the Criminal Court, a number of the victims’ relatives showed up yesterday morning. As soon as they saw Abhisit, they hurled abuses at him. Abhisit’s supporters, however, also showed up and confronted them. The two sides engaged in a heated verbal dispute but there was no violence.

The Criminal Court deployed a company of police officers to ensure order was kept.

Former Democrat MPs such as Sirichok Sopha and Thepthai Senpong were at the court to express moral support for Abhisit, who is still the Democrat Party’s leader.

After Abhisit entered a not-guilty plea, the court scheduled the first hearing to examine evidence on March 24 next year.

The court approved Abhisit’s bail request.

He was released on a Bt600,000 bond and barred from travelling outside Thailand without approval.

Abhisit left the court without giving any interviews.

Suthep Thaugsuban, who is now the secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), was scheduled to appear in court yesterday to face the same charge as Abhisit. In 2010, Suthep served as a deputy prime minister and the CRES director.

However, Suthep yesterday sent his lawyer to ask the court that his indictment be postponed until January 16.

Spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General, Nantasak Poolsak, said Suthep would be required to produce more documents by December 16. “Then we will reschedule his indictment,” he said.

The PDRC is staging a massive rally against the so-called “Thaksin regime”. In the face of PDRC pressure, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday ordered a House dissolution.

Suthep, power-mongers tussle over reforms
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The government and protest leaders yesterday vied for support for their ideas of setting up a forum to reform the country. Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in a national address in the afternoon, called for a forum with representatives from all walks of life to find “the best solution for Thailand” and to brainstorm reform ideas for the country in the future.

Her move came amid growing calls for an overhaul of the political system.

After the committee is formed, Yingluck would go on leave and allow one of her deputies, possibly Phongthep Thepkanjana, to take over as caretaker prime minister, a source said.

Later, Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the protesting People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), proposed a “people’s council” with 400 members – 300 elected from various occupations and 100 selected by the PDRC.

According to the PDRC, this council would help with suggesting reform measures for the country before a new election would be held.

Yingluck later said she would not join her proposed forum. It would be left to permanent state officials and “people with neutrality”, to allow free and open discussion.

The forum would do its work while preparations for the general election, scheduled for February 2, would be carried out as planned. No time frame has been set for the forum to complete its task, she added.

Tongthong Chandransu, secretary-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, has been assigned to implement this forum. Yingluck expects further details about this forum to be revealed today.

“There is no problem if the PDRC wants to take part in the forum,” she told reporters.

In her address, she urged people interested in joining the forum to gather at 9am on Sunday at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre in Bangkok. The event would be hosted by the PM’s Office.

The Sunday forum is intended to lead to the formation of a “political reform committee” that would consist of 400-1,000 people, according to a government source.

After the dissolution of the House of Representatives on Monday, the PDRC demanded that Yingluck and her Cabinet members, who are now taking a caretaker role, resign en bloc to make way for the formation of a “people’s council”.

Suthep yesterday met with leaders of seven private-sector organisations at Bangkok’s Sukosol Hotel to discuss his group’s reform ideas. He said he would attempt to stop the election from taking place.

“And I can do it,” he said.

He also urged the private sector to back his group’s cause for political reform.

“If you share our goal, let’s do it together so that we can end all this quickly,” he said.

The seven private-sector organisations are set to hold a conference at the QSNCC today to propose their national reform plan.

The PDRC yesterday ignored the forum proposed by Yingluck.

“From what she said [in her statement], it is not the answer we need to hear. We need her to resign [from her caretaker post] to pave the way for national reform,” its spokesman Akanat Promphan said.

An election cannot lead to reform – the demonstrators need reform before going to the polls, he said.

The meeting with the private sector was the PDRC’s first with organisations that have not joined its protest. Suthep on Wednesday had sought meetings with other organisations including security forces.

The seven private-sector organisations were the Tourism Council of Thailand, the Thai Bankers’ Association, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the Thai Listed Companies Association.

The PDRC will today meet with media representatives to explain its national reform agenda at the Royal Turf Club at Nang Lerng. Tomorrow the PDRC is scheduled to hold an open assembly at Thammasat University from 9am-4pm with the public invited.

FACTBOX: The PDRC’s proposed 400-member People’s Council:
  • 300 members selected from various occupations.
  • 100 members selected by the PDRC.
  • No members or executives of any political party allowed.
  • Members must refrain from accepting any political position for at least five years
.

Red-shirt leader indicted over 2010 riots
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Yossawaris Chuklom, widely known as Jeng Dokji

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1

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Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1 | The Thaiger

Daily Thai news on The Thaiger. All the latest information about Thailand, Monday to Friday on Thaiger News Today.

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

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. The claim comes from the Tourism Council of Thailand president. 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 becomes available. At this stage there are still many questions about a successful vaccine either becoming available or the efficacy of such a vaccine even when it is. Then there are questions about whether getting a vaccine will become a condition of travel to Thailand or internationally. 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.”

Changing face of Thailand’s expats

Thailand’s dominant working expat nationality in past decades has been Japanese, currently making up 18% of expatriates in the country. But that dominance is about to be overtaken. While Japanese expatriate numbers are decreasing, a CBRE report notes that Chinese and Filipino expats are on the rise in Thailand. There were 28,560 Japanese expats in Thailand as of Q3 2020, just ahead of the Chinese expat contingent at 25,811. As China’s manufacturing has shifted overseas and Filipino expatriates have increased in line with local demand for teachers fluent in English, there’s been a continuing de-centralisation of the expat communities living in Thailand. You can read more about that report, and the effects on the Thai property market at thethaiger.com

More reports of alleged student abuse, parents file complaint against teacher

More reports of teachers allegedly abusing their students have come to light after a Nonthaburi teacher was caught on video pushing a kindergarten student to the floor, pulling a student across the floor and repeatedly hitting other students. Now more classroom videos of teachers allegedly abusing their students are being widely shared online as well as photos of children’s marks and injuries from the alleged abuse. Meanwhile, the main Thonburi school, at the centre of the current allegations, has agreed to pay compensation, including refunding school fees, paying medical costs, and better screening and scrutiny of teaching staff.

Contestant eliminated from Miss Universe Thailand after manager infiltrates organising committee

One of the favourites to take the Miss Universe Thailand title when the contest is held on Saturday, October 10, has just been kicked out for breaking the rules. Chayathanus Saradat, also known as “Cheraim”, is accused of allowing her manager and chaperone to infiltrate the organising committee. It’s understood he manager, aka “Ken”, attended numerous committee meetings, potentially getting the inside scoop on what questions contestants might be asked, and giving his client an advantage. Thailand still has a fascination for the ‘beauty contestant’ format and there are hundreds of such contests conducted around the country each year.

Police confiscate 300 kilos of marijuana in central Thailand drugs bust

A drugs bust in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, has netted 300 kilos of marijuana, valued at around 2 million baht. Anti-narcotics officers confiscated the haul yesterday when they apprehended 3 men in a department store car park. Thai Residents reports that dried marijuana usually fetches around 6,500 baht per kilo on the black market. It’s understood this consignment was on its way to a Bangkok-based dealer when it was intercepted.

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Tourism

Travel agents push to end quarantine for tourists from countries at low risk for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth

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Travel agents push to end quarantine for tourists from countries at low risk for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Qui Hotel

Travel agents are pushing to end the 14 day quarantine required for foreign tourists arriving from countries classified as a very low risk for spreading Covid-19, hoping the government will agree with the idea and start in December. The move could bring in at least 100,000 tourists per month, according to president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, or ATTA, Vichit Prakobkoson.

The thought of 2 weeks in isolation before enjoying a vacation turns away a lot of potential tourists. Vichit says the idea of quarantine “repulses” them. But some tourists are still onboard with travelling to Thailand, even if that means spending 14 days in quarantine.

Around 120 to 150 tourists on the new Special Tourist Visa are set to arrive next week from China to Phuket after a 6 month ban on international tourists. The tourists are required to quarantine for 14 days at a state approved facility. The new visa allows a 90 stay and can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months.

Vichit says new measure won’t be enough to revive Thailand’s crippled tourism industry which took a hit when the country halted international travel to control the spread of the coronavirus. 1,200 foreign tourists are expected to arrive each month under the new Special Tourist Visa, but Vichit says the number of monthly tourists could increase to 100,000 each month if the quarantine is waived for people from countries consider low risk.

“The government should challenge and revoke the state quarantine, if possible, by this December for certain countries. If so, approximately 100,000 foreigners a month would travel to Thailand and might stay for 5 to 7 days.”

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Opening borders could cause a second Covid-19 outbreak, epidemiologist says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Opening borders could cause a second Covid-19 outbreak, epidemiologist says | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Post

Opening Thailand’s borders to foreign tourists may open a “Pandora’s box” of Covid-19 infections, according to leading epidemiologist on the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine Thira Woratanarat. After a 6 month ban on international tourists, the first group of travellers on the new Special Tourist Visa are set to fly from China to Phuket on October 8. Thira says the move puts the country at risk of a second coronavirus outbreak.

“If the country decides to take risks, everyone must rely on themselves because this is a war between virus and humans and people need to survive… The country will be a new endemic area if the government cannot contain the spread of the disease effectively. And even if there is a Covid-19 vaccine, it might be too late.”

The 120 to 150 tourists arriving next week on the Special Tourist Visa are required to quarantine at a state approved facility for 14 days. They are also required to be tested for Covid-19 before their flight and before being released from quarantine.

Thira has been vocal for months on his disapproval for opening the borders to foreign tourists and has stood firmly against proposals like so called “travel bubbles.” He says the coronavirus cases across globe have continued to raise and warns that people in Thailand should still abide by coronavirus prevention measures like wearing a mask.

“Many countries are still under the severe pandemic and have an infection rate 20 times that of Thailand’s, so Thailand will be at a risk of becoming a pandemic hotspot after the country is reopened.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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