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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Businesses rail against blackout; Minister blames lightning; Academics say no excuse

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Businesses rail against blackout; Minister blames lightning; Academics say no excuse | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Businesses demand action as officials downplay power cut
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Tourism officials downplayed the impact of Tuesday night’s power outage in the South, but tourism operators and the country’s biggest private-sector association expressed fears for their business and demanded the government take steps to ensure that such a situation does not happen again.

Suraphon Svetasreni, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said its office in the Southern region had collected information on the effects of the power cut, which hit 14 southern provinces on Tuesday evening, and found nothing to worry about so far. Phuket International Airport continued normal operations because it has generators able to provide power for more than three hours.

The blackout hit at around 6.45pm, and lasted until 10.45pm in some parts of the South.

Most of the big hotels also have their own generators. The businesses that suffered the biggest impact were stand-alone spa outlets without their own backup generators. Some bookings were cancelled as a result.

“This blackout had a minimal impact because it lasted for a short period and operators had generators,” he said.

However, Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, was more concerned about the possible impact of the blackout, saying it could lead to a slight drop in confidence among foreign tourists.

She said precautionary plans should be put in place. She will bring this issue up with the tourism committee chaired by the minister of tourism and sports.

But Suraphon was confident the tourism industry will still move ahead in the remaining months of the year and attract 24.5 million foreign visitors for the whole of 2013. From May 1-20 alone, there were about 1.2 million foreign tourist arrivals into the Kingdom, an increase of 21 per cent year on last year.

The strengthening baht is not a threat to the tourism industry, Suraphon said. The number of tourist arrivals from the United States, Germany and France is on the rise, while those from Britain and Australia have declined slightly. It’s likely that they chose to go to other countries with weaker currencies for their travel.

Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, said the blackout in the South would create only small business losses as it only lasted a few hours. Losses are estimated at Bt20 million to Bt50 million.

Businesses that would be hit hard are seafood processing, tourism and department stores. He said it should not have a huge impact on the business sector. However, as it occurred in the South, repeating an earlier similar incident on Koh Samui, it could have a psychological impact on investors.

“The government and responsible agencies need to announce that the repeated accident would not occur again and [that they] have clear prevention measures.

Otherwise, it would affect foreign-investor confidence in the Southern region in the future,” Thanavath said.

Pornsilp Patcha-rintanakul, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, called on the government to provide a prompt and clear explanation to the public, because blackouts in the South were a sensitive issue.

Federation of Thailand Industries secretary-general Thanit Sorat called for the government to ensure that similar events would not recur and said it had to find out which party would take responsibility in this case.

The FTI will confer on Monday on the estimated damage and what measures the government must launch to prevent the problem from happening again.

Surat Thani Chamber of Commerce chairman Suthat Lertmanorat said the blackout had hit businesses’ long-term confidence in the provincial power utilities. He is worried that such blackouts will recur, but added that the major industries in the province were not hit hard as they had backup power and the incident only lasted for a brief period.

Suthat also urged the government to devise a long-term solution to this problem.

Wannee Thaiphanit, president of the Pha-ngan Tourism Promotion Association, said the blackout had severely hurt the tourism industry. Fewer than half of the major hotels in Surat Thani province have power generators, while small restaurants were fully hit by the blackout.

She is also worried about the confidence of tourists, as Pha-ngan will hold a full-moon party this weekend during which around 20,000 tourists are expected to flock to the island.

Songkhla Chamber of Commerce chairman Somporn Siriporananont said the blackout was roughly estimated to cost the business sector in the province at least Bt500 million, as some major manufacturers’ production processes were disrupted.

Kritsana Iamwongnatee, chairman of the FTI’s Ranong Chapter, said the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and related agencies had to improve the electricity-transmission and backup systems to make them much more reliable.

He said the government should set up a centre to inform people of emergencies by mobile-phone text messages.

According to Airports of Thailand, Hat Yai and Phuket airports were not affected by the blackout because of their access to backup power. The state agency has ordered both airports to increase power reserves to enhance safety further.

Minister blames blackout on lightning strike
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal yesterday described Tuesday evening’s blackout in all 14 southern provinces as “unavoidable” but did not come up with long-term measures to prevent a repeat in the region.

The plan to build more power plants, including coal-fuelled plants, in the region is still on track, he said.

“I insist that the [blackout] problem has nothing to do with the policy of building a coal-fired power plant,” he said.

The plan has faced opposition from local residents and environmental activists.

Some academics and activists suspect that the blackout was a conspiracy aimed at stressing the need to construct more power plants in the South.

Assistant Professor Prasart Meetam of Prince of Songkla University’s Faculty of Sciences, warned the government against trying to use the blackout as an excuse to push ahead with the construction of more power plants.

“Various agencies have now given conflicting information, especially on power demand in the South,” he said.

Wichai Nakjon, an environmental activist from Krabi, said he suspected the power outage was a conspiracy aimed at pointing to the need for more power plants, particularly coal-fired ones.

In April, the energy minister had warned that there would be a widespread blackout because a natural gas facility in Myanmar that supplies Thailand’s power plants was under maintenance.

Pongsak blamed lightning striking a high-voltage transmission line that supplies power from the Central region to the South. There are two such lines but the other one was under maintenance.

In the short term, another line would be added linking the Ratchaburi power plant in the Central region to the South to prevent such a problem. He has ordered a study to expand the power distribution system in the South that was estimated to cost more than Bt10 billion.

“A cause of the problem is that power produced in the South does not meet local demand. And more elect

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

Health Minister says quarantine could be reduced to 10 days, maybe eventually zero

Maya Taylor

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Health Minister says quarantine could be reduced to 10 days, maybe eventually zero | The Thaiger
PHOTO: WHO/Ploy Phutpheng

Health officials are ready to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists, provided other relevant bodies agree. The current quarantine period is set at 14 days, but the Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, says this could be reduced to 10. He adds that if the reduction is successful, quarantine could be further reduced, eventually reaching a point where quarantine is no longer a requirement.

“The truth is, the Public Health Ministry is ready for the change, but other relevant agencies still have requested time to adjust. So, we have to wait and work together. The Department of Disease Control proposed reducing quarantine to 10 days to begin with. I have said that if we are confident, we do not have to be afraid since the goal is finding the safest period for quarantine. If we find a good method, it may be reduced to 5, 4, 3 days, or even none.”

On Tuesday, Thailand welcomed the first group of foreign tourists to arrive in the Kingdom since borders were shut in late March. The Chinese visitors, who arrived from Shanghai, are all in 14-day quarantine, with all of them testing negative for Covid-19 so far. Once quarantine is over, they will be free to travel around, but their movements will be tracked via an app they had to download on arrival.

While a reduction in the quarantine period may go some way to encouraging more tourists to come, Anutin is not in favour of removing all entry restrictions. With travel restrictions lifted between many European countries, Covid-19 cases are once more on an upward trajectory, with officials concerned about what the approaching winter months will bring. Anutin points to the success so far of Thailand’s quarantine programme, stressing the importance of keeping Covid-19 out, particularly in high-risk communities such as the border with Myanmar in Tak province.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Samut Prakan woman bitten by snake while using the toilet

Caitlin Ashworth

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Samut Prakan woman bitten by snake while using the toilet | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: @v2maungprakarn

A python has bitten a woman on her backside and finger while using the toilet at a home in Samut Prakan, southeast of Bangkok. Rescue volunteers were called to her home, and said there was a lot of blood at the scene. The woman was later taken to the hospital.

The incident may sound shocking to some, but in Thailand, reports of snakes biting people who are on the toilet isn’t that uncommon. Snakes can live and thrive in the sewers, usually hunting down rats, and sometimes enter pipes leading up to the toilet bowls.

Just last month, an 18 year old university in Nonthaburi, a suburb just west of Bangkok, was bitten on his penis by a python that was in the toilet bowl. He had to get 3 stitches. Another man’s penis was bit by a snake while he was using the bathroom last year. He ended up with 15 stitches.

คุณพระ ! งูโผล่โถส้วมกัดเลือดสาด วันนี้เวลา​ 21:00 น….

Posted by ข่าวสารเมืองปราการ v2 on Monday, 19 October 2020

SOURCE:Facebook

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Thailand News Today | STV arrivals, Released then re-arrested, Petition to oust PM | October 21

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | STV arrivals, Released then re-arrested, Petition to oust PM | October 21 | The Thaiger

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From 40 million visitors to 41: first STV tourists arrive

In 2019, almost 40 million tourists arrived in Thailand. Yesterday, it was 41. It was progress of sorts but a long, long way from the 110,000 daily arrivals at the same time last year.

Yesterday, the Kingdom welcomed its first tourists in 7 months, with the arrival of 41 Chinese tourists from Shanghai. The group landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered flight laid on by Spring Airlines, a low-cost Chinese carrier.

The visitors are here on the recently-launched Special Tourist Visa and had to download a special app to track their movements while in Thailand. They were bundled off to their 14 day quarantine before they can explore the rest of the country. The STV grants them a stay of up to 90 days and can be extended twice.

According to the TAT, “Most of them planned to visit the beaches and already reserved hotel rooms.”

For anyone wishing to apply for the STV, your first port of call will be your local Thai Embassy and the thailongstay.co.th website. Good luck!

2 Thai protest leaders immediately re-arrested after being released on bail

To some protest news and authorities have re-arrested 2 of the leaders at the centre of anti-government protests right after they were granted temporary release on bail.

The 2 were being held on charges of violating the State of Emergency and released alongside fellow a fellow protester, after Thammasat University professors paid bail of 200,000 baht for each of them.

But the initial 2 were promptly re-arrested on the basis of another warrant issued by police, this time charged over another mass gathering in violation of the State of Emergency. They are being held pending another detention request being filed by police.

Letter calling for Thai PM’s resignation signed by over 1,000 academics

A petition calling for the resignation of Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, has been signed by up to 1,118 academics and delivered to Government House.

The petition was created by the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights. A group of university lecturers and students have marched to Government House to deliver the letter. In the letter, academics slam the government’s clampdown on an October 16 rally in Bangkok, when police used high power water cannons, allegedly laced with blue-dyed chemical irritants, to disperse protesters at the Pathumwan intersection.

They’re also calling on the Government to refrain from violence when dealing with protesters, to stop the gagging of government critics andto put an end to laws that infringe on freedom of speech.

Protesters are also calling for a re-write of the 2017 Thai Charter (Constitution) and for reforms to the role of the Thai Monarchy.

Khao San Road evolving, all ages daytime event planned for Halloween

Bangkok’s iconic Khao San Road now looks very different as Thailand emerges from the local coronavirus outbreak.

Not only are the backpackers gone from the “backpacker mecca,” but the road in Bangkok’s Banglamphu neighbourhood has gone through a street make-over. Now, Bangkok officials plan to hold events for “all ages” during the daytime during Halloween. But chaos can still be expected at night, even if it’s mostly Thai customers at the moment as Thailand waits for the re-emergence of some sort of tourism industry.

Some 48.4 million baht was poured into a revamp of the “tatty” old Khao San Road, improving the drainage system and levelling out the road and sidewalk. There’s now designated space reserved for emergency vehicles. You’re invited to join in some Halloween celebrations at the new Khao San Road on October 30 and 31… events for kids will start as early as 9.30am.

Up to 5,900 jobs to go as Hong Kong carrier Cathay Dragon shuts down

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific is set to close its subsidiary, Cathay Dragon, with the loss of up to 5,900 jobs.

The carrier, that used to be called Dragon Air before being absorbed by Cathay, has become yet another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic that has decimated the world’s aviation business.

5,300 jobs are expected to go in the airline’s Hong Kong base, with a further 600 axed in their overseas offices and operations. In total some 17% of Cathay’s total workforce. Cathay Dragon primarily operated short-haul routes within Asia, including direct flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok and Phuket

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