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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Abhisit says he was framed; B1bn ATM skim scam; Krathongs down; Cops want bus lanes; Govt pressure builds

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

Abhisit says Tarit framed him, Suthep over 2010 riots
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Department of Special Investigation Director-General Tarit Pengdith skewed the facts in order to frame suspects who are the subject of criminal indictments relating to the 2010 riots, the Democrat Party leader told a court yesterday.

The Criminal Court convened an inquiry session to hear Abhisit Vejjajiva testifying as plaintiff, before deciding whether his suit against Tarit would merit judicial review.

“The state of emergency was declared in the face of havoc wreaked by armed men in black, but this fact was omitted from the prosecution statement against me,” Abhisit said.

Abhisit contends that Tarit abused his power by fabricating criminal indictments against him, as the then prime minister, and his then deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, in relation to deaths that occurred during the riots.

In his statement to the court, he said that only the National Counter Corruption Commission had a mandate to prosecute political office holders.

He voiced suspicion that the DSI and the Office of the Attorney General had conspired to frame him and Suthep in order to pressure opposition lawmakers to accept the amnesty bill.

One month before the indictments were issued, Cabinet member Chalerm Yoobamrung revealed in the House that he had inside information about the pending charges, Abhisit said.

Cop, Russians held in B1bn ATM skim scam
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: A Royal Thai Police officer and two Russians have been arrested for their alleged role in a big ATM-skimming gang, said to have obtained over Bt1 billion over the past year.

“The [Russian] suspects have been active in the country for about one year, during which the damage is over Bt1 billion,” Immigration Division 4 Office chief Pol Maj-General Chatchai Iamsaeng said yesterday.

Police were now trying to reclaim the money, he said.

Pol Senior Sgt-Major Nontapan Saengsuk, 37, a member of the Tourist Police division, had more than Bt2.8 million cash in his car at the time of his arrest on Sunday night. A search showed there were more than 200 fake credit cards and ATM cards in his vehicle too.

This officer was nabbed in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Muang district shortly after the arrests of Vasilii Ivanov and Sergei Peternev at an ATM in front of the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Hall.

Plainclothes police noticed the two Russians acting suspiciously and searched them. The search showed the pair had more than 100 credit cards and ATM cards on them. During the search, a Toyota Wish almost stopped by but suddenly sped away.

The two Russians then told the arresting officers that the vehicle driven by Nontapan was supposed to pick them up.

Police later intercepted the vehicle and arrested Nontapan.

The three suspects confessed that they had been using the fake cards to withdraw cash.

Provincial Police Region 3 chief Lt-General Thirasak Klinpongsa yesterday announced the arrests of the three suspects.

“We had assigned plainclothes officers to keep watch on ATMs after receiving a tip-off that a Russian ATM skimming gang had come to Nakhon Ratchasima,” Thirasak said.

According to the police, whose probe is ongoing, Nontapan in fact nabbed the two Russians before but accepted a bribe and ended up being their accomplice.

“The two Russians said they offered him an amount of money equivalent to 10 per cent of the withdrawal cash if he served as their driver during their operation,” Thirasak alleged.

Nontapan said he did not know how the Russians acquired the ATM and credit cards.

“I drove him around many times before. When other policemen flagged us down on a road, I could easily claim that I was about to drive these tourists back to their hotel,” Nontapan said.

The two Russians told police that most fake cards in their possession targeted foreign victims. They said they acquired the cards from other foreigners.

Police are investigating the case further. They suspect the pair are members of a big ATM skimming gang.

Fewer krathongs this year, but fires started by lanterns
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: More than 800,000 krathongs were floated in Bangkok during the Loy Krathong festival on Sunday night, according to an official from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration who said BMA staff collected the krathongs.

The total number was 5.6 per cent lower than the figure last year, the BMA spokesperson said yesterday. The reduction resulted from a BMA campaign ‘One Krathong One Family’, as well as many Bangkok residents travelling to the provinces, said Bensai Keeyapaj.

Some 88 per cent of the 865,415 krathongs collected from canals and rivers in the capital – 757,567 of them – were made of disposable material while those made of hard-to-decay foam made up 12 per cent.

Floating lanterns were widely released this year at Loy Krathong events in Bangkok, which caused six fire incidents. She said the BMA would try to control use of yee ping lanterms, and that draft regulations were being worked out and would be passed by the city soon.

In Chiang Mai, local irrigation officials volunteered to collect krathongs floated in waterways above the Ping River watergate, which is under joint jurisdiction of two local administrative bodies, to cut short through administrative red tape and ensure this is done promptly.

The office said delays in collecting the krathongs would hit routine water management and harm the environment.

City police want bus lanes
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Metropolitan traffic police want to enforce use of bus lanes, so that city buses and public transport vehicles get priority on Bangkok streets.

They also want cars with fewer than three occupants banned from entering congested roads, a senior policeman said yesterday. Bus lanes were first adopted in 1980 and have been tried on several occasions but were never a success in Bangkok because police failed to enforce restrictions on passenger vehicles using bus lanes, Pol Maj General Adul Narongsak said.

Police attempted a high-occupancy vehicle scheme in recent years but motorists opposed to it, so police enforcement of the move lapsed. The officer said both practices were being studied and the names of Bangkok streets these moves would be undertaken on would be known soon.

He said passenger sedans entering a main street from a soi would have to give way to city buses in designated bus lanes. And that both practices, if implemented and effectively enforced, would encourage motorists to stop driving and turn to using public transport.

Stressful week ahead for government, opposition
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Thai politics has entered a dangerous phase again, with both the Pheu Thai-led government and the opposition Democrat Party walking on a tightrope.

Whethe

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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