Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok prepares for shutdown; Economic fears grow; Vote me out, dares Yingluck

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

PDRC march a warm up for shutdown
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Anti-government protesters from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) marched through Bangkok yesterday in a warm-up for their “Bangkok shutdown” next week.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban led thousands of demonstrators from the main rally site at Democracy Monument, passing through Baan Mor, Pak Klong Talat (flower market), Phahurat, and Charoen Krung Road before returning to Rajdamnoen Avenue. As usual, during his march, people lined up to present Suthep with flowers and donations.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Prompan said the protest route covered eight kilometres. The march took six hours from 10am to 4pm when protesters arrived back at Democracy Monument.

The Students and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR), a splinter group of the PDRC, did not join the rally.

Vote against me if you want me out: Yingluck
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday urged her political opponents to go to the polls if they want to remove her from office.

I would like to ask everyone to practice tolerance and let time heal the problem. Problems facing the country are getting more complicated and cannot be solved in one day. If you don’t want the government to return to power, you have to fight us in the election. Transform rallies into a force of checks,” she said.

On her Facebook page, she said an election was the best medicine to cure political conflicts and the best mechanism to settle issues in a democratic system.

After the House was dissolved, the government could not implement measures to tackle economic problems such as boosting GDP through government spending, so private investment has been unresponsive.

Foreign tourists cancelled their bookings and many countries had warned their citizens against visiting Thailand.

“Let’s talk and even though we have different opinions we do not need to be divided. Please do not pass on these conflicts to our children. Turn our differences into a force to solve problems for the country,” she said.

Yingluck reportedly stayed at home to rest with her family while monitoring the moves of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to enlist protesters to join the “shutdown” rally on January 13.

Hundreds of provincial police have been mobilised from Bung Kan, Ratchaburi and Nan to stand watch at her home.

Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said security agencies have kept the premier informed on developments of the PDRC rally by briefing her every 15 minutes.

People wary of economic impact
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Most people are worried the economy will be crippled by the Bangkok Shutdown, according to Suan Dusit Poll.

About 54 per cent of the 1,159 people polled in Greater Bangkok said they were afraid the mass rallies planned by the anti-government movement to paralyse the capital would strangle economic activity.

About three out of four of the respondents were apprehensive about the escalation of the situation.

When asked about their feelings toward the Bangkok Shutdown, 47 per cent asked all sides to think about the public’s common interest.

The opinion survey was conducted from Thursday to Saturday.

Panda Lin Hui on the brink of giving birth
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Much-adored giant panda Lin Hui is expected to give birth, possibly in the next 72 hours, a senior government veterinarian said at 2pm yesterday.

According to her latest urine test and her behaviour, the expectant mother – now in Chiang Mai Zoo – shows several signs of being close to delivery.

Surveillance cameras follow Lin Hui’s movement around the clock, so as long as she is not in a blind spot, the birth will be caught on camera, said chief veterinarian Borriphat Siriarunrat.

Policeman killed, three injured by speeding motorist
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A traffic policeman in Phetchaburi was killed and three people were wounded after they were hit by a speeding car in Cha-am district.

Pol Sr Sgt Major Phichai Ngernlard, of Cha-am police station, was hit while he was getting into his car, after directing traffic for a passing royal motorcade. The driver of the speeding vehicle, Wasant Saengphloy, 22, also sustained injuries. He has been charged with causing death and injury through reckless driving.

Quoting eyewitnesses, police said Wasant’s speeding sedan lost control on a sharp curve and veered off the road, before ploughing into the policeman and three pedestrians. CCTV footage of the accident went viral on social media.

VN man caught smuggling endangered species
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A Vietnamese national has been arrested at Aranya Prathet border checkpoint in Sa Kaew province for allegedly attempting to smuggle a number of two endangered living animal species into the country.

The suspect, identified as Abdol Gani, was taken into custody by a local Army paramilitary rangers unit after being charged with possessing live animals without permission, and attempting to smuggle 10 Asian black-chested leaf turtles. Also found in his possession were 19 Chinese crocodile lizards, an indigenous species to China.

Immigration police said the man admitted that he planned to sell the lizards at to illegal wildlife traders in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market (Weekend Market) for Bt2,000 and Bt1,000, respectively. The man, who claimed he worked as a property broker in Vietnam, will be prosecuted by the local forestry and wildlife protection office.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News
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