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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Anti-govt rallies; Bus safety under fire; PM beauty smarts TV; Facebook top Thai news source

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Anti-govt rallies; Bus safety under fire; PM beauty smarts TV; Facebook top Thai news source | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Anti-govt groups plan street protests
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Anti-government groups are firming up plans for street rallies ahead of the parliamentary deliberation on August 7 of an amnesty bill proposed by a group of MPs from the ruling Pheu Thai Party.

The protests will be scheduled on different days, but it is not clear, according to the latest remarks by their leaders, whether they will be staged at the same venue. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is due to leave for an official trip to Africa today and return on August 3, two days after Parliament convenes.

Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the prime minister and her government to avoid a return to civil strife, referring to its rush to pass an amnesty law. The government should devote its energy to addressing the plight of the common people, he said.

“It all depends on the government. People will take to the streets within seven days. The prime minister can decide not to bring the country back to a conflict, and instead focus on tackling the problem about the cost of living. It depends on whether she will do that,” said Abhisit, who is also the Democrat Party leader.

The Democrats are arranging for their “Reveal the Truth” show against an amnesty bill to take place some time between August 3 and 6 at Bangkok venues to be selected.

Critics and opposition politicians have alleged that there have been attempts to include fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra among the targets of an amnesty bill.

The People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime, formerly known as Pitak Siam, called a meeting of group leaders in the afternoon at the Royal Turf Club. The group would conduct a peaceful rally but would not allow provincial authorities and police to block them from gathering in Bangkok. It would consider legal action if it is prevented.

Tul Sitthisomwong, a leader of the multi-coloured-shirts movement, said his group would rally outside Parliament between August 5 and 8 to protest against the amnesty bill.

Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the Green Politics Group, said he suspected the amnesty bill would be drafted in a way to benefit Thaksin and the red-shirt leaders facing legal problems in connection with the 2010 unrest.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy will call a rally if it finds that the amnesty law proposed by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema is intended to help Thaksin escape legal problems, PAD spokesman Parnthep Puapongphan said.

Vasit Dejkunchorn, a retired former deputy police chief and head of Thai Spring, said his group would demonstrate against the amnesty bill outside Parliament House.

Bus operators risk passenger safety for profits: expert
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Operators of private transport businesses in Thailand focus mostly on profits rather than passenger safety, while the assemblers of specially modified buses, particularly the widely used double-deckers, tend to use substandard materials and shun safety features to keep costs down, an expert on road safety and transport engineering said.

In the case of double-decker buses, the windows on the top deck have reinforced glass, which is difficult to break, making it tough for passengers to escape in case of an emergency, Assistant Professor Somprasong Sattayamallee said.

Plus, the additional weight of the reinforced glass on the top deck results in the bus not being properly balanced, he added.

As per Department of Land Transport requirements, modified double-decker buses with eight wheels, two of which are added on, should not exceed 4 metres in height, while buses with the standard six wheels should not exceed 3.6 metres in height.

Somprasong, quoting a bus assembler who did not want to be named, said most modified eight-wheel double-decker buses in Thailand were higher than 4.5 metres. Also, these buses seat between 50 and 55 passengers, when the standard is no more than 40, he said.

The assembly technician went on to say that up to 70 of the buses he had modified had a standard chassis with a normal 2.5-metre axle despite the additional height. To comply with safety standards given the extra height, the axle should be wider than 2.5 metres. However, wider chassis are only made overseas, which would make the job of modifying the bus more expensive.

“The tour-bus operators will not hire you if you use an expensive foreign-made chassis,” he explained.

The safety of specially modified double-decked buses has raised concerns after several road accidents, especially the most recent one in Saraburi’s Kaeng Khoi district in which 19 people were burned to death and 22 others injured.

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt, meanwhile, is encouraging private operators to install Global Positioning System devices on their buses as this would allow for efficient management of public transport and make it easier to track the vehicle in case of emergencies.

Of the 800 buses operating under the government concessionaire Trans-port Co, 731 have had GPS tracking devices installed. The ministry is aiming to require all new buses to be equipped with the system.

Officials deny rumours, put teachers’ death to shrapnel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Insurgents and the authorities are blaming each other for the death of two female government teachers who lost their lives in a roadside bomb attack in Narathiwat on Wednesday.

Military spokesman Colonel Pramote Promin said yesterday that the results of the autopsies performed on the two victims indicated they died from shrapnel wounds to the head after the blast. The bomb is thought to have been intended for a military vehicle that was also in the area.

After the explosion, the two teachers lost control of their vehicle, which plunged into a canal. Autopsy concluded that Nusyahan A-wae and Nayeeha Yeera were killed by shrapnel from the homemade bomb – made from metal rods cut into pieces.

A government spokesman also refuted rumours that the two Muslim women died in crossfire between insurgents and the police.

He said that insurgent sympathisers in Narathiwat, who want locals to believe police were responsible, spread the rumours.

Insurgents and security officials alike have been cautious about reporting violent clashes during Ramadan, with each side blaming the other during the ceasefire. Ramadan ends on August 8 and the ceasefire between insurgents and government forces is expected to end a few days later.

Flood, landslide warnings issued for North
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thirteen northern provinces were warned on Thursday of heavy rains and possible floods and landslides.

Chatchai Phromlert, director general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM),

said the 13 provinces were Tak, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Phetchabun, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Phrae and Nan.

Urging people in at-risk areas to follow the weather forecast and disaster warnings for timely evacuation if

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Alcohol ban for the end of Buddhist Lent this Friday

Maya Taylor

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Alcohol ban for the end of Buddhist Lent this Friday | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Coconuts

An alcohol ban is looming for this coming Friday, as Buddhists mark the end of the Lent period. While officials have so far remained silent on the possibility of a ban on the purchase and consumption of alcohol, previous years have seen one implemented at the end of Buddhist Lent. The ban has not been formally announced but our Thai staff have confirmed that it will be in place.

The Buddhist Lent is when monks finish their 3 month retreat and leave the temples to travel and resume normal life. It also marks the end (in theory) of Thailand’s rainy season. This year, the end of Buddhist Lent falls on Friday, October 2, and is almost certain to bring a ban on alcohol sales, as in previous years.

This will mean bars, clubs, and other nightlife venues will need to close from midnight the night before, and cannot re-open until midnight Friday night/Saturday morning. The ban on alcohol sales will also apply to supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants.

As with similar alcohol bans, the enforcement by officials can be ‘selective’ but will attract a fine if caught.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thailand

All 42 Sarasas private schools to be investigated after teacher allegedly beat students

Caitlin Ashworth

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All 42 Sarasas private schools to be investigated after teacher allegedly beat students | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kapook

All of the 42 Sarasas private schools throughout Thailand will be investigated by the Office of the Private Education Commission, or Opec, after a teacher was caught on camera allegedly hitting kindergarten students. The teacher, Ornuma “Khru Jum” Plodprong,” allegedly beat young students at the Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School in Nonthaburi. Khru Jum, along with other teachers that allegedly witnessed the abuse, were fired and may face criminal charges pressed by parents.

Surveillance camera footage of the classroom at the Nonthaburi school shows a teacher, identified as Khru Jum, hitting kindergarten students. In one clip, the teacher pushes a 3 year old student down to the ground and pulls a student’s hair. Another clip shows the teacher dragging the student across the classroom. Other teachers who were in the classroom did not intervene, the footage shows. Opec secretary general Attapon Truektrong says staff members who witnessed the alleged abuse were fired.

The commission is teaming up with Department of Mental Health to send psychiatrists to the school to evaluate children who may have faced some abuse from their teacher, Attapon says. He adds that Opec is working with the parents to press charges on staff members.

There have been complaints about bullying and inappropriate punishment at 34 other Sarasas schools, according to Opec. The commission has set up a special committee to investigate all of the 42 Sarasas private schools. All of the Sarasas schools will need to allow parents to access classroom surveillance camera footage.

The Sarasas schools do not have a discipline policy, according to Sarasas Affiliated Schools chairman Pibul Yongkamol, the board that oversees the 42 schools. He says teachers are told to teach with “love and care,” but there are no set guidelines or rules regarding punishment.

Khru Jum also did not have a teaching license. Opec is now asking all the Sarasas schools to make sure all teachers have the proper teaching license issued by the Teachers’ Council of Thailand. Attapon says the Nonthaburi school broke other rules, like the maximum class size.

“We have found that Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School also ignored admittance quotas for its English programme. Under the rules, private schools are only allowed to admit 25 students per class for English lessons, but Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School allegedly admitted 34 students per class.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Kanchanaburi

Luxury resort built on national park land given demolition order

Maya Taylor

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Luxury resort built on national park land given demolition order | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandadventureguide.com

“Tear it down, or we will.”

That’s the ultimatum officials have given the owner of a luxury resort built on national park land in Kanchanaburi, western Thailand. The Phatsapada Resort, which consists of 17 chalets, has been built on land belonging to Khao Laem National Park. A demolition order, posted outside the property yesterday, gives the owner 7 days in which to pull it down.

“Failure to do so will see officials take charge of the demolition, at a cost of 200,000 baht, which the owner will be obliged to pay.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the resort was recently inherited by the heirs of its former owner, Ms Jarupha Detchinda, after she died. It’s understood Jarupha represented an alleged “high-ranking member of the military” who built the resort, according to Niphon Chamnongsirisak, from the Protected Areas Regional Office 3.

Jarupha had previously been fined 30,000 baht and sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment in January 2018. She was also required to pay 103,379 baht to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. A subsequent appeal upheld the prison term, but suspended it for 2 years, and her fine was reduced to 10,000 baht.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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