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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok floods not critical, says BMA; Dam report scrapped; Constitutional Court accepts complaints; Students split on sexy uniforms

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok floods not critical, says BMA; Dam report scrapped; Constitutional Court accepts complaints; Students split on sexy uniforms | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

No major flooding in capital: BMA
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Despite heavy downpours over the past two weeks, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) still believes the capital should escape floods this rainy season.

“Run-offs and rain will not coincide with high tides this year,” an official at the BMA Flood Prevention Centre said in a recent interview.

According to the centre, rainfall and run-offs are expected to peak in Bangkok late this month, while the high-tide period will begin next month.

“Hence, the current water situation is far less worrying than in 2011,” the official said.

Two years ago, Bangkok was among the many provinces hit hard by floods.

Slightly better measures

The BMA says that though its flood-prevention systems remain pretty much the same, they have been improved to some extent. For instance, flood barriers along the Chao Phraya River are now up to 3 metres high, when two years ago they stood at 2.5m at the most.

The BMA has also said that it should be able to clear road surfaces within an hour if the rainfall does not exceed 60 millimetres per hour. The city administration remains confident even though nearby provinces such as Ayutthaya, Lop Buri and Prachin Buri are already inundated.

More than 8,000 families in Prachin Buri have been affected by flooding. In addition, up to 24 schools have sustained water damage, as have 23 roads and a bridge. One death has been reported so far.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department yesterday forecast higher rainfall in the lower Northeast region during the weekend.

“A strong high-pressure cell will reach the region during this period,” it said.

Locals have been warned to be careful of downpour-related risks in Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani.

Many provinces in the Northeast have been struggling lately. For instance, more than 353,300 people in Si Sa Ket have been adversely affected.

Pravej Nonthasee, acting chief of the Si Sa Ket Provincial Prison, said the correctional facility was surrounded by a metre of water. “We have had to form a 1.5-metre high sandbag wall around our facility, and as a precaution, we have also moved inmates from the ground floor to higher floors,” he said.

In Ubon Ratchathani, the run-off from Det Udom district damaged a key bridge connecting the Na Yia district with the heart of the province. Officials have now closed the bridge to traffic.

According to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, floods have ravaged 27 provinces this month, though the situation in Kanchanaburi and Chumphon has already improved.

MRT tunnel intact despite road collapse in Chinatown
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The underground tunnel for the MRT’s Blue Line extension remains intact even though a part of the road collapsed in Bangkok’s Chinatown area, Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said yesterday.

At about 2am yesterday, a bit of the road surface on Charoenkrung Road in front of the Leng Noei Yi Temple (Wat Mangkorn Kammalawat) subsided, leaving a crater at the construction site of the MRT Blue Line’s extension route.

“The crater was about 25 centimetres deep initially, but I ordered workers to dig deeper to find out what caused the collapse,” construction supervisor Kamol Mahaphon said.

After digging further, his team found that huge water leaks had weakened the area.

“Hence, we have contacted relevant officials, including the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority,” Kamol said.

Meanwhile, Chadchart said the MRT tunnel, which is still being constructed, is about 25 metres deep and remains intact. “The tunnel has not been damaged in any way,” he reiterated.

Pisitchanon Niwattanakul, a member of the Leng Noei Yi Temple’s board, said the road-surface collapse did not affect the monastery.

“The temple is alright with the construction of the MRT extension because it is beneficial to the public,” he said.

Mae Wong Dam report scrapped
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Government has scrapped the latest version of the environmental report for the controversial Mae Wong Dam in Nakhon Sawan, saying it will launch a brand new study with a focus on flood prevention.

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi explained that the environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) conducted by the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) could not be used, as it focused on resolving irrigation problems rather than flood prevention. Hence, he said, he would get the Office of National Water and Flood Management Policy to launch a new study, which should begin once the public hearing on the Bt350-billion water- and flood-management scheme is completed by December and a deal is signed with the contractor by February.

The Mae Wong Dam project is part of the government’s water- and flood-management plan.

It was first proposed in 1984 by the RID as part of a plan to study irrigation development in the Sakae Krang watershed – a tributary of the Chao Phraya River. The Japan International Cooperation Agency backed this proposal.

The RID has been submitting its environmental impact assessment (EIA) report to a panel of experts and the National Environmental Board (NEB) since 1994, but the report continues getting rejected due to incomplete information.

As per the most recent EHIA, the dam would cover 12,900 rai of the Sob Kok mountain, which straddles Nakhon Sawan’s Mae Wong district and Kamphaeng Phet’s Khanu Woralaksaburi district. Also, some 12,300 rai of this area falls in Mae Wong National Park. According to the report, more than 12,900 rai of forest, consisting of mixed deciduous, dry dipterocarp and bamboo species, would have to be cleared. The dam construction will also affect the head watershed and the habitat of more than 400 wildlife species, including tigers.

However, the dam is expected to retain 258 million cubic metres of water and help irrigate more than 291,900 rai of arable land in Nakhon Sawan, Kampaeng Phet and Uthai Thani.

While he was director-general of the Royal Forest Department in 1999, Plodprasop fought against the Mae Wong Dam project, saying it would destroy the forest areas. He changed his mind this year, however, saying it would resolve flood problems.

Meanwhile, RID director-general Lertviroj Kowattana said his department would not go ahead with getting the NEB’s panel of experts to approve the EHIA.

“We will not go ahead with the plan if Plodprasop wants to stop it,” he said.

Citing the 1992 Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act, the secretary-general of the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, Santi Boonprakub – who chairs the panel deliberating on the EHIA – said his panel would have to continue deliberating and providing recommendations on the report. Once this is done, the report will be submitted to the Independent Commission on Environment and Health for more suggestions before it is sent to the Cabinet, which has the power to withdraw the EHIA.

Report lacked correct data

However, ecosystem expert

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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

The Thaiger

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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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