Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok prepares for floods; Cops collar sex toys; Wat Arun restoration; 28kg heroin bust; Say no to umbilical cords

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

Bangkok flood areas marked ahead of storm
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Authorities have identified 37 flood-prone spots in Bangkok in the face of a coming tropical depression.

The depression, which entered Thailand’s Northeast yesterday morning, is expected to reach the Central region today.

Traffic Police chief Pol Maj-General Piya Tavichai yesterday said Bangkok residents should avoid all of the 37 flood-prone spots, if possible, during heavy downpours.

Among these spots are a portion of Rajavithi Road between Suan Dusit Rajabhat University and the Krung Thon Buri Bridge; a portion of Phya Thai Road in front of the Livestock Development Department; and a stretch of Ratchadaphisek Road in front of Robinson Department Store.

Sanya Chenimit, deputy permanent secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), said some of the capital’s low-lying spots had already been drained in preparation for possible rain.

Based on what he has seen so far, Sanya expects the coming depression to affect the city only indirectly.

“It may cause light rain, but will not bring any serious downpours,” he said.

As part of the preparations, Sanya said officials had been instructed to conduct constant checks to ensure that no garbage blocked drainage pipes. Clogged pipes are often blamed for flooding.

He added that people could ease the problem of clogged pipes by putting garbage into bins.

In a separate interview, PM Yingluck Shinawatra emphasised the need for the BMA to dredge canals and drainage pipes.

“I don’t want to see the BMA [waiting to] talk about drainage until upstream run-off water has already arrived,” she said.

She said the central government had worked hard on managing water volumes in upstream and midstream areas so as to minimise the impacts on Bangkok.

At the peak of the 2011 flood crisis, the central government and the BMA quarrelled over how best to manage the water volume. The floods submerged some parts of the capital.

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department director-general Chatchai Phromlert said the depression would increase rainfall in Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen, Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon, Roi Et, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Sa Kaew, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat during the next two days.

“We are now paying close attention to risky areas such as at the foot of mountains and low-lying areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, downpours continued in many parts of Phitsanulok yesterday.

The province’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office warned people in Wang Thong, Nakhon Thai, Chat Trakan, Wat Bote and Noen Maprang districts to beware of possible flash floods and landslides.

Phitsanulok is among the flood-prone provinces that Yingluck has expressed concerns about.
Officials raid sex-toy vendors
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Items touted as aphrodisiacs, along with sex toys and possibly fake Viagra pills, were seized yesterday during two raids at Khlong Thom wholesale market and another area nearby.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which conducted the raid with the Department of Special Investiga-tion, said it was checking if the aphrodisiacs contained any illicit drugs.

Five vendors selling the items were arrested and charged with selling drugs without permission and with selling obscene objects.

DSI agents said the pills being sold as Viagra were of low quality and could lead to heart attacks or death for those with chronic ailments or allergies, while the FDA agents said the purported aphrodisiacs had no labels with dosage or usage information, which could be a legal offence.

Vendors of sex toys and other goods were heard complaining about the seizures and the parading of the five suspects in the middle of a closed intersection. The raids prompted the operators of other stalls offering sex toys to shut down before DSI agents could approach them.

Wat Arun stupa to be closed for three years
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The world-famous Temple of Dawn stupa, known locally as Phra Prang Wat Arun, will be closed for three years starting from next Tuesday to undergo repairs and renovation. Other structures in the temple compound will also be repaired, a deputy abbot said yesterday.

This will be the biggest repair and renovation work on the stupa in the last 14 years. In the past, even while large-scale work was being done, the stupa remained open to tourists, said Phra Sakkaya Puttiyawong. The temple is asking the Tourism Authority of Thailand to build a four-metre replica of the stupa for tourists to visit during the three-year closure, he added.

The original tiles covering the 81.85-metre-high stupa, which were set aside during the 1999 renovation, will be used this time. The Department of Fine Arts will carry out the repairs and renovation. They will also carry out an underground exploration of the stupa’s foundation to determine its condition, the monk said.

A new model of scaffolding will be erected along the stupa, which will not touch the monument, and thus avoid causing damage, the monk said. The work will be divided into three phases: in 2013 it will cover the southwest and northwest sides of the Phra Prang stupa and also the smaller stupa on the south and west; in 2014-15, work will cover the southeast and northeast of the Phra Prang stupa, and the smaller stupa on the east and north.

Signs will be erected at the site to warn tourists of possible accidents during the closure. Tourists will be allowed to see the stupa from a distance during the three-year period. The stupa will be closed at the auspicious time of 3pm next Tuesday, after a blessing and opening ceremonies for commencement of the work. Somdej Phra Maha Ratcha Mangkhalajarn, the abbot of Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen who is also acting His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch, will preside over both ceremonies.

Hundreds sign up for Miracle Eyes CCTV
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: More than 500 home and business owners have already put their names down for the Miracle Eyes project, which involves the installation of a closed-circuit television system (CCTV) for safety in Bangkok.

Deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner Maj-General Adul Narongsak yesterday expressed confidence that at least a million CCTV cameras would be installed under the project in the next three years.

“Early next month, we will install cameras for the first 500 participants,” he said.

Under the project, CCTV cameras will be installed at homes or businesses, and linked to control centres overseen by the Metropolitan Police Bureau. Each property will be watched over by the surveillance cameras, and should anything happen, its “redline” system will automatically inform the property owner and police.

The Bt300 per month Miracle Eyes package offers one to three cameras; the medium Bt750 per month package offers four to 10 cameras; while the large package costs between Bt1,500 and Bt2,000 per month and includes 11 to 100 cam

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News

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