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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Andaman erosion; avian flu alert; Poh pardon; polls to please

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Andaman erosion; avian flu alert; Poh pardon; polls to please | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Officials eye Andaman coastal erosion
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Marine and Coastal Resources Department is formulating plans to tackle coastal erosion in six Andaman Sea provinces.

The most severe erosion was found in Tambon Saladan on Krabi’s Koh Lanta, where five meters of coastline a year is disappearing, specialist Vudhichai Janekarn said yesterday. Other hard-hit areas are Phang Nga’s Laem Pakarang-Ban Lha-on in Takua Pa district and Trang’s Pak Meng Beach in Sikao district.

Presenting the 2011-2012 survey data in a meeting at Krabi City Hall, Vudhichai identified 57 coastal-erosion hotspots along the 1,093-kilometre Andaman coast – 45 locations on the mainland and 12 on islands in Krabi, Trang, Phang Nga, Phuket, Ranong and Satun.

He proposed the building of coastal-protection barriers to lessen the severity of the erosion. An advisory committee was looking into ways of constructing durable barriers out of material that could be found locally, had low maintenance costs and would be accepted by residents.

Teams of govt vets monitor for avian flu
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has resumed its nationwide campaign to randomly test birds for the deadly avian influenza virus (H5N1), to ensure Thailand is free from further outbreaks.

Over 300 barn swallows were collected from Silom by a veterinarian team from the department. In checking the birds’ health to detect H5N1 virus, they also collected bird saliva and dropping samples, to be sent for lab tests at the National Institute of Animal Health and Kasetsart University.

The lab results should be known next week, deputy director of the department Teerapat Prayoonsit said, while leading the team of 100 veterinarians to catch birds in Silom. To date, his department has found no spread of the virus among birds in Silom since the department started a campaign to detect H5N1 back in 1991.

The number of barn swallows in Silom was around 500,000 two years ago, but has dropped to 3,000-5,000 birds as local agencies have cut trees and removed electricity posts. Teerapat said 40 mobile teams of 800 veterinarians were monitoring for a possible bird-flu outbreak nationwide.

“We are collecting samples from birds in Samut Prakan, Trang, and Krabi and we will do the same in other areas later,” he said. Thailand has reported 25 confirmed cases of human infection and 17 deaths since 2004. But over the past six years there have been no reports of human infection or deaths.

Family works on pardon for Kamnan Poh
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Less than a week after the notorious former godfather Somchai Khunpluem was arrested and sent to jail, his family has begun to seek a Royal pardon for him.

The plan comes after the 76-year-old convict was moved from a prison to a hospital in his hometown and political stronghold, Chon Buri. The Chon Buri Prison approved the transfer citing Somchai’s need for medical treatment.

“We are going to ask for a Royal pardon. We will be proceeding in line with laws and an appropriate time frame,” Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome, one of Somchai’s sons, said yesterday.

“I am doing my duty as a son.” Observers say that thanks to Somchai’s business and political influence, his children have had a smooth, successful ride in politics. Somchai, widely known as Kamnan Poh, went on the run only after he was convicted of corruption and then of a murder.

He had been in hiding for about seven years before being arrested late last month in Bangkok. Sonthaya yesterday shrugged off a suggestion the Khunpluem family would run into trouble for illegally sheltering Somchai during the past many years.

“My father has moved around on his own. He goes wherever he wants,” Sonthaya said. He also believed his father’s case would not affect his political status.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung also dismissed a suggestion Somchai had enjoyed preferential treatment. “When an inmate is ill, he can get treatment,” he said.

On the move to ask for a Royal pardon, Chalerm said any inmate had the right to request one.

Crime Suppression Division commander Maj-General Supisal Pakdeenareunart, meanwhile, said police would summon the director of the Samitivej Hospital’s Srinakarin branch for questioning.

Records showed Somchai had received treatment at the hospital, sometimes as an inpatient and sometimes as an outpatient, for over a year.

Suspicion is growing among officials that someone there might have intentionally provided treatment for Somchai without alerting the authorities, despite the fact he was wanted on murder and corruption charges.

Newsman quits university over poll row
Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A veteran journalist from the mass-circulation Thai Rath has resigned as president of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University Council. He said he was dissatisfied that the university allegedly conducted opinion surveys to please the government.

Manit Suksomchit, a senior editor of Thai Rath and former member of the constitution drafting assembly (CDA), said that he decided to resign as the council president because he had a different stand from the university.

Manit has been the president of the university council since 1987.

He said he had a difference with the university after Suan Dusit Rajabhat was hired by the government to organize 108 hearings on charter amendments. Aside from the fact that a university should not get involved in politics, he said he disagreed with the efforts to amend the 2007 charter.

“I took part in drafting the 2007 Constitution and I think it is a good charter because it plugged loopholes in the 1997 charter to prevent businessmen from reaping benefits through corruption. Several points that would have allowed politicians to abuse [authority] had been prohibited,” Manit said.

“The 108 hearings on charter amendment would mobilize people to tear down the Constitution. The interior minister had also said he would recruit people to attend the hearing, adding that, ‘The fool should not join in the hearing’.

“So I can’t agree with any effort to annul this charter,” he said.

Manit rejected media reports that he was angry with Dusit Poll as it was “hired” to conduct polls, saying he had never said so.

He said the last straw for him was an opinion survey by the university, announced on December 20. In the survey, respondents were asked which politicians they would like to survive if the world ended. Manit said the survey brought widespread criticism that the poll was conducted to please the prime minister.

Manit said the university rector asked him to reconsider his resignation. “But I replied that had I wanted to stay, I would not have resigned. I announced my resignation at the council meeting and all applauded me, but I don’t know if they like me or not. So far, no one has followed suit.”

He said the university continued to conduct strange surveys, but he did not read the survey questions in detail.

Assoc Prof Dr Sukhum Chaloeysup, who is in charge of Suan

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Environment

Thailand’s swift response to the ‘fall armyworm’ pest

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s swift response to the ‘fall armyworm’ pest | The Thaiger

OPINION: Somsak Samanwong – Regional Technical Educator for APAC, Corteva Agriscience. PHOTO: East-East Seed

In Thailand, corn is an indispensable staple crop, used as an important source of feed for a thriving poultry and livestock industry. About 1.04 million hectares of our land is used to produce corn, with this year’s yields estimated at a record high of 5.3 million tonnes.

As Thailand becomes increasingly recognised as a major world food exporter, our reliance on corn is growing to meet consumer demand for meat, both locally and globally – we are currently the third largest chicken exporter in the world. For many of us, it comes as a surprise that this ordinary but versatile crop is intrinsic in fuelling our status as the “kitchen of the world”.

A small but powerful threat

However, this established position and the very growth of our food economy is currently under siege from the rise of fall armyworm, a pest so damaging that it can destroy corn crops overnight. The fall armyworm is an insect native to the Americas, where it has caused significant damage for decades. With a zealous appetite for corn, the pest quickly began to ravage crops in the Africa region following its arrival in 2016, causing losses of $13.3 billion.

Fall armyworm started moving closer to home, spreading across Yemen, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, before reaching Thailand in December 2018. Since then, around 50 corn-growing provinces have been infested, particularly in the west of Thailand.

Fall armyworm infestations can result in yield losses for corn of up to 50%, which can have devastating implications – for those whose livelihoods rely on their crops, but also for the poultry and other meat production industries whose success and expansion heavily depend on their produce.

What makes fall armyworm so challenging to control is its high reproductive capacity and long migration distances. The pest has been known to migrate up to 1500 km3, slightly more than the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, covering up to 100 km per night. Couple this ability to travel with rapid reproduction – four generations of fall armyworm can be observed in a single corn crop – and you have a devastating mix.

Recognising the tremendous impact of fall armyworm on the nation’s farmers and our food security, the Thai authorities and key stakeholders across the agriculture industry have come together, uniting efforts to equip our farmers with the tools they need to help manage the spread of fall armyworm. By applying our learnings with fall armyworm in response to future threats, we can help to ensure our farmers are empowered and our nation’s food supplies – for Thailand and for the rest of the world – are protected.

Taking swift and decisive action

Thailand’s Department of Agriculture responded to the first FAO warning of fall armyworm in India by setting up a surveillance program to monitor corn growing states along the shared border with Myanmar. During this time, informative materials about fall armyworm and the ongoing surveillance program were shared with relevant agencies, universities, and most importantly, corn farmers.

Establishing communication between the authorities and those on the ground was and remains an important focus, and a telephone hotline and Line account were set up so that farmers are able to report potential infestations. As a previously unseen pest in Thailand, setting up infrastructure to monitor crops in the recognition of fall armyworm was pivotal to aiding a quick response.

Thailand’s swift response to the 'fall armyworm' pest | News by The Thaiger

Imparting knowledge through educational efforts

Knowledge-sharing between the authorities, academic experts, farmers and industry is crucial in the fight against threats like fall armyworm. In November 2018, an educational programme for Thailand’s authorities developed with the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) by CropLife Asia helped to provide senior agricultural and food industry leaders with in-depth information about fall armyworm and its habits.

By sharing knowledge of the pest between the government and affected industries, accurate and up-to-date information could spread across the country almost as quickly as fall armyworm itself.

Farmers remain at the heart of agriculture, and thus, in-field education is of paramount importance to safeguard crops.

Through a series of training programmes and the provision of educational materials, farmers were educated on and empowered to adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, as recommended by the World Trade Organisation on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, to control and prevent the spread of fall armyworm. IPM combines pre-emptive treatments, scouting, monitoring and targeted treatments to protect the health of corn crops from seed to plant, and, in turn, to protect Thailand’s food security.

Equipping farmers with the necessary tools

In adopting an IPM approach against fall armyworm, it is our role as agriscience experts to ensure farmers have access to safe, effective and greener solutions to control its physical spread. And, through the development of innovative technologies, solutions are available to provide farmers with long-lasting control of fall armyworm, whilst being environmentally safe to use.

Amparar®, Corteva Agriscience’s foliar spray, contains the active ingredient Spinetoram and has been recommended for use in corn in Thailand to help protect corn crops against fall armyworm. It controls the insects in two ways – through ingestion and contact by the pest, providing a quick knock-down for lasting control. Amparar® has been awarded the prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for its positive environmental profile and margin of safety towards beneficial insects. It is recommended by the Thai authorities as the top crop protection product for managing fall armyworm.

Our fight against fall armyworm has brought to light the invaluable role of corn in the development of Thailand as global provider of food. Perhaps even more importantly, it has helped to demonstrate how much can be achieved when public and private sectors work together in response to those that threaten our food security. We must continue to activate and engage all stakeholders – from farmers, governments, industry and academia – to ensure that, whatever the next threat to our “kitchen of the world”, we remain poised for action to protect it.

Thailand’s swift response to the 'fall armyworm' pest | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

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Thailand

Thai Abbot accused of sexually abusing teen novice

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai Abbot accused of sexually abusing teen novice | The Thaiger

A 51 year old Buddhist monk is accused of detaining a 13 year old novice monk and sexually abusing him, allegedly forcing him to give oral sex. The novice monk’s father accompanied the teenager to file a complaint at the Nong Khao police station in Kanchanaburi, western Thailand, this week.

The novice, identifying himself only as Nat, claims the abbot had often called him and ordered him to provide massage and oral sex. At one stage he was detained in the monks residence for five days. The abbot allegedly intimidated the boy into staying, saying he had a gun.

The man said his son was ordained in July and had been staying at the temple ever since. The boy told his family of the sexual abuse early last month. The novice first called his aunt for help in getting transferred to another temple. The boy eventually told her what had happened. After the calls for help, a local monk rescued the boy from the abbot’s residence. The monk was then assaulted by the abbot, according to the boy’s story.

The monk alleged the abbot kicked him, stepped on the boy’s chest and repeatedly hit his face. He also said he had earlier accused the abbot of failing to perform his duties. The Abbot is denying the accusations.

The Buddhism affairs chief of Kanchanaburi, said senior local monks would form a committee to investigate the case.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Politics

Charter court will hand down ruling on Thanathorn share case on November 20

The Thaiger

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Charter court will hand down ruling on Thanathorn share case on November 20 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Thai Constitutional Court is set to issue a ruling in Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s media share ownership case on November 20. The court wrapped up its inquiry yesterday with the questioning of ten defence witnesses, including Thanathorn who arrived at the court greeted by well-wishers.

Thanathorn, who held 675,000 shares in V-Luck Media, has repeatedly insisted they were sold to his mother on January 8, weeks before he registered to run as a candidate.

As judges fired questions at him during today’s hearing, the usually cool-headed party leader appeared tense, saying he couldn’t recall the legal details of divesting the shares. His supporters say the case has been trumped up to take out Thailand’s most popular politician and deliver a gut punch to the FFP and its radical reform agenda.

Read more about the case HERE.

Both Thanathorn and the Election Commission, which filed the case with the Constitutional Court, were given 15 days from today to submit their closing statements to the court.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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