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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Akeyuth murder mired in complicity; Supercar importers in tax spin; Borrowing the Burmese White Elephant; Ramadan ceasefire; School’s out

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Akeyuth murder motive more than ‘theft’: Panel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Senate panel on human rights yesterday called on the Royal Thai Police to change the chief investigator in the case involving the murder of businessman and government critic Akeyuth Anchanbutr.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, chairman of the Senate committee on human rights, liberty and consumer protection, said the chief investigator, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Kamronwit Thupkrajang, had personal conflicts with Akeyuth and should be taken off the case.

The senator noted that Kamronwit and Akeyuth had sued each other in the past, and hence the former should not oversee the probe.

Somchai also called on police to allow non-partisan agencies, including the Law Society of Thailand and the National Human Rights Commission, to join in the investigation.

He said it was premature for police to conclude that Akeyuth was killed for the Bt5 million he was carrying, because his attackers did not take any other valuables from his house. Somchai said valuables on Akeyuth’s property amounted to more than Bt5 million and could have been taken away far more easily.

Somchai said police had not yet released details about the house in the Lat Krabang area where the perpetrators had allegedly held Akeyuth before his murder. He said that he believed the murder was more complicated than the robbery theory put forward by the police.

He said the Senate panel had discussed the murder and agreed in principle to summon persons involved to testify.

During discussions, the Senate panel agreed that the government should provide people with better measures of protection. The senators said that though Akeyuth was disliked by many, there was no reason to murder him.

Kamronwit yesterday rejected criticism that police were not pursuing the real motive behind the murder.

After a meeting with National Police chief General Adul Saengsing-kaew on the development of the case, Kamronwit held a press conference at which he insisted that the motive behind Akeyuth’s killing was the Bt5 million and that it was not politically motivated, as believed by Akeyuth’s family and lawyer.

“I do not care about allegations that police are trying to wrap up the case quickly by making it a ‘theft’ case. Police are carrying out their duties to the best of their abilities,’ Kamronwit said.

Akeyuth’s family and his lawyer had earlier said they believed the murder was politically motivated, since the businessman had long been a critic of the government and a whistleblower against the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. His latest message on his Facebook page in May referred to the money-laundering activities of Thai politicians and bureaucrats in the UK.

Kamronwit said police believed four people were involved in the murder: three had been arrested and Suthipong “Berm” Pimpisal, who is a key suspect, was still at large. Police yesterday continued their hunt for him as other suspects gave statements that he was the man who strangled Akeyuth to death with rope.

Kamronwit denied reports that police had already arrested Suthipong, saying he was probably still somewhere in Bangkok. He added that since Suthipong was a key suspect, there were fears that he could be silenced before being apprehended.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court has allowed Ithipol Pengduang, 51, and Jitampai Pengduang, 48 – parents of Santiparb – to be released on bail of Bt100,000 each. The two have been charged with receiving stolen money between June 13-24. Santiparb reportedly gave the Bt5 million to his parents to hide. Police initially refused to grant their release on bail on grounds that most of the stolen money had not yet been found. It was feared they might destroy the evidence or flee with the stolen cash.

Kamronwit said police had so far only recovered Bt420,000 of the stolen Bt5 million.

Assistant National Police Pol Lt-General Charamporn Suramani said fingerprint test results showed that the body unearthed in Phatthalung was that of Akeyuth. DNA taken from the body also matched that of Akeyuth’s family members.

7 firms fingered in supercar tax evasion
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has found seven major vehicle importers fudging their financial figures to evade taxes, including one suspected of involvement in the recent accidental burning of exotic cars being trucked in Nakhon Ratchasima.

The seven firms actually had sales worth over Bt11 billion in 2011 but stated only Bt4 billion, denying the country tax income from these imports, AMLO chief Sihanart Prayoonrat said yesterday in reporting on his agency’s progress in checking the transactions of 222 luxury auto importers.

AMLO would proceed with probing 200 other companies and submit the results to the Revenue Department to audit them and collect back-taxes from them.

If the Customs Department confirms that these companies also falsely declared items or their values they would be also guilty of violating the anti-money laundering law and their assets could be seized. The case of the burned cars is being handled separately by the Department of Special Investigation.

Thailand, Myanmar mull exchange of white elephant
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thailand plans to borrow a white elephant from Myanmar as a symbol to mark 65 years of bilateral ties between the countries, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said yesterday.

Surapong said the Thai delegation discussed the idea with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin during this week’s Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation meeting in Bali.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries will reach their 65th anniversary next year, and Surapong said an “auspicious” white elephant might play the symbolic role of a good-will ambassador, following in the footsteps of China’s “panda ambassador” Lin Ping. The elephant could be displayed in Chiang Mai Zoo for six months to boost tourism, he said.

The Myanmar ambassador told Surapong that he would discuss the matter with the Nay Pyi Taw government.

Surapong also reported his discussion with U Wunna Maung Lwin on the European Union’s wish for Thailand to aid some 2,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar for Thailand this year.

The Myanmar minister assured him that a working team, led by Myanmar’s ambassador to Thailand, was set to begin the process of verifying the Rohingya’s nationality next week. Four months of the six-month period designated for Thailand to aid the Rohingya had already passed, so the identification process would aim for completion in two months, he said.

Surapong added that he had told EU representatives that Thailand had given what humanitarian aid it could to the Rohingya, but it was not a rich country. The EU should also help take in these immigrants, and not just leave them as Thailand’s sole responsibility, he said.

Insurgents agree to suspend violence during Ramadan
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Poll: Work from home popular, reduces Covid-19, helps gov’t

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Working from home is believed to help slow the spread of Covid-19 among other advantages. (via PxHere)

As far as strategies to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections goes, work from home policies may be the most popular, far more liked than masks and lockdowns. In a recent poll by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, 1,533 people in Thailand were asked about their opinions on working from home. The majority of responses were well in favour of it.

The Suan Dusit poll was conducted online and found that when asked about various opinions and attitudes towards working from home, nearly 75% of respondents believed that staying home to work made them feel safer and could prevent Covid-19 from spreading more. Nearly half also felt like working from home was a good way to cooperate with government policies regarding Covid-19.

Nearly 43% of those polled were working from home. Only about 23% of people never worked from home, while just under 35% of people worked in some combination of home and at their office or place of business. Just over 40% of respondents said they lacked the equipment at home that would allow them to work from home.

While people generally like to work from home, those surveyed did believe that there were pros and cons to it. 44% felt working from home gave them more personal time for themselves and more time with their families. 88% believed it had a positive effect on the Covid-19 pandemic and 70% loved how working from home reduced travel and commute costs. Over 60% viewed it as a way to help the government in their struggle against Covid-19.

On the downside, about 66% of those surveyed complained that they saw an increase in their household bills as their usage of water, electricity and internet went up. 62% had trouble without their normal work equipment and 46% said slow communication was an issue.

Oddly though, when asked which they preferred, only 18% completely favoured working from home, while double the amount preferred the office and 37% liked both equally. Just under 9% gave no opinion. Overall though, work from home as a Covid-19 fighting policy had a success rating of 70% by those polled.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals

Tim Newton

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The CCSA have announced 2,302 new infections and 24 Covid-related deaths over the past 24 hours. There’s now been a total of 101,447 infections and 589 deaths since the start of Thailand’s tally on January 18, 2020. More than 64,000 are registered as ‘recovered’. 35,055 people remain under treatment at public and field hospitals.

More news briefs on the Covid situation below.

Here are the provincial totals for Sunday as reported from the past 24 hours.

Covid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerCovid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerCovid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerCovid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerCovid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals | News by ThaigerCovid UPDATE: 2,302 new infections and 24 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaigerβ€’ A new study highlights the often maligned effectiveness of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, showing they are both quite effective in boosting the immune system against the Coronavirus. The Center of Excellence in Clinical Virology of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University conducted the study that found that one month after the first shot of AstraZeneca, over 97% of people had developed immune responses. Results were not yet in for the second injection.

Three weeks after the first injection of the Sinovac vaccine, just under 66% of people had developed immune responses, but four weeks after the second injection, that number jumped to an impressive 99.49%.

Full report HERE.

β€’ Indonesia is temporarily halting distribution of a single batch of AstraZeneca vaccine to check for “sterility and toxicity” The temporary action follows reports of a few adverse effects after immunisations.

The batch consists of 448,480 vaccine doses that arrived in the southeast Asian nation last month, part of a delivery of more than 3.85 million doses. Some of the doses have been distributed in part of the capital, Jakarta, and the province of North Sulawesi.

β€’ Starting Monday, restaurants in Bangkok, Nonthaburi (immediately north of Bangkok), Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan (south east of Bangkok) will be allowed to offer dine-in services at 25% of seating capacity until 9pm.

Restaurants in other 17 Red Zone provinces will be allowed to stay open until 11pm without seating limitations. Restaurants in the other Orange Zone provinces will be allowed to resume “normal operations”, though alcoholic beverages may not be served anywhere across the country. In the Red Zones, schools can open as normal with permission from local and provincial authorities. In the Orange Zone schools can open without permission but under the latest rules.

β€’ The Office of the PM has dismissed as false online rumours that Her Majesty the Queen was infected with Covid-19.

The office urged people to monitor Covid-19 news from a reliable channel, such as the Facebook page of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

β€’ Chonburi and Chiang Mai are being removed rom the dark red zone, or maximum control area, due to an improvement in the Covid situation in those 2 areas.

β€œIf this proposal is approved by the prime minister, there would only be 4 provinces designated as dark red zone, namely Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.”

Chonburi, with only 33 new infections yesterday, will be moved to the orange zone, or medium control area, joining 16 other provinces… Kanchanaburi, Chachoengsao, Tak, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Prachuab Khiri Khan, Ayutthaya, Phetchaburi, Yala, Ranong, Rayong, Ratchaburi, Samut Sakhon, Songkhla and Surat Thani.

Phuket was also downgraded into the Orange Zone category.

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thailand’s colour zones change from Monday – some restrictions ease

Tim Newton

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PHOTO: CCSA

From tomorrow we’ll see the resumption of limited dine-in services in restaurants located in the remaining 4 Dark Red zones of Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.

Restaurants in these 4 provinces will now be able to resume dining on premises, until 9pm. But they can only seat 25% of their full capacity. So, a table for 4 can only seat 1 person, while takeaways can still be provided until 11pm. The serving of alcohol in these areas is still prohibited.

Schools and other educational institutions in Dark Red zones also remain prohibited from holding in-person classes and activities in their buildings.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai and Chon Buri were removed from the list of Dark Red zones. Currently, there are 17 provinces considered Red zones, where dine-in services are permitted until 11pm, without the serving of alcohol. Phuket was downgraded to an Orange Zone.

Thailand still had no provinces categorised as Green or even Yellow yet, but hopefully, the downward trend continues. The zone layout now is: 4 Dark Red zones, 17 Red zones, 56 Orange zones for 77 provinces total.

The updated province colour-coded zones are…

DARK RED ZONE
Bangkok Nonthaburi
Pathum Thani Samat Prakan
RED ZONE
Ayutthaya Chonburi Chachoengsao Kanchanaburi Nakhon Pathom Nakhon Si Thammarat
Narathiwat Prachuap Khiri Khan Phetchaburi Ranong Rayong
Ratchaburi Samut Sakhon Songkhla Surat Thani Tak Yala
ORANGE ZONE
Amnat Charoen Ang Thong Bueng Kan Buriram Chai Nat Chaiyaphum Chanthaburi Chiang Mai Chiang Rai Chumphon Kalasin Kamphaeng Phet Khon Kaen Krabi Lampang Lamphun Loei Lopburi Mae Hong Son
Maha Sarakham Mukdahan Nakhon Nayok Nakhon Phanom Nakhon Ratchasima Nakhon Sawan Nan Nong Bua Lamphu Nong Kai Pattani Phang Nga Phatthalung Phayao Phetchabun Phichit Phitsanulok Phrae Phuket
Prachinburi Roi Et Sa Kaeo Sakon Nakhon Samut Songkram Saraburi Satun Sing Buri Sisaket Sukhothai Suphanburi Surin Trang Trat Ubon Ratchathani Udon Thani Uthai Thani Uttaradit Yasothon

There may still be some provincial-centric restrictions remaining. Keep up with your local media for the latest announcements.

SOURCE:PR Thai Government

 

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