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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Child killer confesses; Democrats to vote on election boycott; Cold bites hard in North

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Child killer confesses; Democrats to vote on election boycott; Cold bites hard in North | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Lessons learnt in sad fate of 6-year-old girl
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A former convict has confessed to raping and strangling a six-year-old girl in Bangkok earlier this month after she strayed briefly from her father’s attention. Police say she was just one of his many victims.

The self-confessed serial abuser, now identified only as Nui, is in police detention.

On Sunday, police arrested him in Nong Khai, where a popular Mor Lam band had staged a performance. The alleged suspect was tracked down after media, including social media, showed pictures of the suspect walking alongside his latest victim. The pictures came from security cameras. Some members of the audience noticed the suspect’s T-shirt and alerted police that it was the type used by crewmen of the Mor Lam band.

The girl went missing after she went to a concert with her father on December 6. The father said his daughter fell asleep during the performance. He decided to take her to his friend’s pickup truck hoping she could get a proper sleep. He went back to see the concert. On his return to the vehicle, he found his daughter was gone.

“I was drunk and had a sexual urge,” Nui said.

According to police, Nui is a repeat offender and has confessed to raping and killing a large number of girls.

“He said he had raped about 10 girls and killed some of his victims,” a senior commander, Pol Maj-General Suebsak Phansura said.

Bangkok police chief Camronwit Toopgrajank suspected that Nui might have committed many more crimes.

In 2008, Nui was sentenced to a jail term for taking a minor away from guardians. He was released on August 23 last year.

Nui’s confession has dashed their hopes of finding her alive. In a desolate area on Soi La Salle, a human skull was found on Sunday and DNA tests are ongoing to determine if the remains are those of the missing girl.

The Mirror Foundation has warned parents not to leave their children unattended. Parents should teach their children not to trust strangers.
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Democrats decide on election boycott today
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The opposition Democrat Party is facing a dilemma in having to decide today whether to field candidates in the general election scheduled for February 2 amid calls from within the party to boycott the poll.

The most talked-about issue amid the current political impasse has been whether to bring about reforms first or hold the elections first. The anti-government protesters want national reforms before the election, while the Pheu Thai-led caretaker government wants to hold the election first and then proceed with the reforms.

A party resolution, in general assembly, on the issue, which might be reached tomorrow at the latest, will be decided by a new 35-member executive board, which will be elected this morning. It’s likely that Abhisit Vejjajiva would retain his post for another term while former MP from Phitsanulok, Juti Krairiksh, is tipped to become the party’s new secretary-general, a party source said.

Heated debate is expected today on the issue of boycotting the election. The source said opinions within the party were divided. One camp led by Abhisit, party chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, former MPs from Bangkok and some southern MPs close to Chuan disagreed with the idea of boycotting the election.

The pro-election faction argues that running in the election after the House dissolution is a democratic way. But they agreed that a national reform is needed after the poll. If the party decided to boycott the election, there would be no opposition party in the House until its term ended, the camp argued.

However, the other camp supported protest leader and former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban’s demand for national reforms before an election. They argue that without reforms, all problems will not be solved.

Early this month, the party’s MPs resigned en masse to put pressure on the Yingluck government. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the House on December 9.

However, a Democrat boycott of the election will not be an obstacle in holding the election. The Democrats and other opposition parties had boycotted the election in April 2006, called by then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra under Thai Rak Thai.

The Thai Rak Thai Party won a landslide victory, but several candidates of the party failed to meet the minimum requirement of getting at least 20 per cent of eligible votes in a constituency if the constituency has only one candidate.

The Constitutional Court found it guilty of paying smaller parties to contest the election to fulfil the 20-per-cent rule, which led to the dissolution of the party.

Pheu Thai this time has already prepared to face the legal obstacles and won’t allow a repeat of the situation.

“We are not worried. If the Democrats boycott the poll, we could have 60 small parties field candidates for 375 constituency-based MPs to avoid the 20-per-cent minimum votes rule,” former deputy House speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai said.

He said Pheu Thai’s strategy committee would call a meeting after the Democrat Party decides on whether to take part in the election or not.

Apiwan said the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) would be acting like gangsters if its members blocked voting at some polling stations on election day.

The PDRC leaders on Sunday announced a blockade of all polling stations and threatened to create political disturbances in some areas to obstruct the holding of the election.

He said he will recommend at the party’s meeting that it should mention its constitutional amendment plan on the election manifesto.

“We could have a referendum on whether to amend the current charter or not at the same time as the general election,” he said.

A Pheu Thai source said the party would field Yingluck and her brother-in-law and former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat as No 1 and No 2 party-list candidates respectively.

“She is still popular. But if she feels she has had enough of politics, then Somchai can replace her,” a party source said.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission’s newly appointed chairman, Supachai Somcharoen, insisted that the national election would take place on February 2.

He foresees no hurdles in hosting the elections, despite calls for a boycott from some political parties. Some anti-government protesters are planning to disrupt the process, when the EC opens registration for party-list candidates.

Army chief Prayuth reaffirms armed forces’ neutrality
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha insists on a neutral stance on the current political situation, saying the Army must always stay neutral in politics while continuing to maintain peace and social order, an Army spokesman said yesterday.

Chiang Mai districts named disaster zones
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Chiang Mai’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department Office has declared Omkoi and Fang districts as disaster zones during the ongoing

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand News Today | German Embassy rally, permanent residency prospect, crowds in Pattaya | Oct 26

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | German Embassy rally, permanent residency prospect, crowds in Pattaya | Oct 26 | The Thaiger

Today’s latest news from The Thaiger, looking at the latest in the protests, a surge of crowds in Pattaya and the latest proposals from the Thai government to increase a new stream of revenue.

Permanent residency, changes to quarantine period – Government mulls strategies to revive economy

Thailand’s energy minister has outlined a number of new strategies the government is discussing tohelp the Thai economy recover from the fallout of Covid-19 fallout.

Permanent residency for some condo purchases, changes to the mandatory quarantine and incentives for foreign investment are all under discussion.

The Eastern Economic Corridor, the special economic zone covering the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao, continues to eye foreign investors with a number of large infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Of particular interest in the topics for discussion are that the government is considering offering permanent residency to people buying condos in the Kingdom, provided they don’t mortgage, transfer, or sell the units within 5 years of purchase.

In relation to foreign arrivals, he says the government will clarify its plans on any further reduction in quarantine time. He says that if the current 14 day quarantine period is to be reduced, this would only apply to those coming from countries considered “low risk” for Covid-19. It’s understood the Public Health Ministry is working on categorising countries into low, medium, and high risk.

Parliament in the middle of a 2 day session to discuss political impasse

An opposition spokesperson opened the special joint session of parliament today with a call for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down, as anti-government protesters continued to keep up their pressure.

Mr Sompong also called for the release of detained protesters as a goodwill gesture to try and end the current impasse. “ He said… The prime minister should be open-minded to the young protesters’demands, and stop delaying the process of writing of a new constitution.”

Meanwhile a Palang Pracharath Party MP Paiboon Nititawan defended the PM saying the country needed his leadership to get through the economic crisis and to protect the institution of the monarchy, which was under attack by protesters.

Protesters march on German Embassy in Sathorn Road

Meanwhile protesters gathered at the Sam Yan intersection today at 5pm, near Chulalongkorn University, and marched to the Germany embassy on Sathorn Road, to submit a controversial petition.

Protesters are asking German authorities to look into whether His Majesty the King had violated German sovereignty by exercising his power from German soil. It is the first time a foreign government has been targeted by the anti-governmentprotesters.

Protesters say the intention is to push for the restoration a “truly” constitutional monarchy in Thailand, under law.

A ‘spoiler’ rally is also underway by government supporters and ‘royalists’ at Lumpini Park, right in the middle of the march route to the German Embassy.

Protesters massed at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok last night

Last night crowds gathered at the Ratchprasong intersection, one of the promised locations for a rally in response to Saturday night’s refusal of the Thai PM to resign. Thousands gathered, mostly along the Ratchadamri Road, to hear speeches and musical performances.

Messages on some of the banners read “We are the people”, “Everyone is a leader”, “Thailand is for the people”, “Police should protect the people”.

Whilst blocking the intersection for 3 hours, with little police presence, the protesters disbanded peacefully just after sunset.

Pattaya springs back to life over the long weekend, more to come

Pattaya, struggling along for the past 7 months with a handful of domestic tourists and Bangkok weekenders, has had its busiest weekend for a long time, albeit a long weekend created by the public holiday in commemoration of King Chulongkorn.

Much of the increased traffic were Thai faces, a big change to the city’s old demographic of international tourists and expats.

Tourists flocked to the city for the long weekend which included the Eastern Colorful Food, Culture and Music festival stretching along the Beach Road foreshore.

The focus of the weekend’s events was the Beach Road which was visibly busy with locals and tourists joining in the foreshore festival, talent shows, music concerts and local food.

Schools advised to improve online learning in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Thailand schools are told to get ready for a possible second wave of Covid-19 and prepare to for lockdown measures, just in case, to make sure all children have equal access to education.

A Thai economist warns that the education gap between rich children in urban areas and poor children in rural areas could widen if schools are shut down again and resort to the same online learning measures tried out months ago.

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Expert says all rail crossings should be upgraded after fatal train-bus collision

Caitlin Ashworth

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Expert says all rail crossings should be upgraded after fatal train-bus collision | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: @pr8riew

After the fatal freight train-charter bus collision earlier this month, authorities are looking into ways to make the rail crossings safer and to prevent potentially deadly incidents from happening in the future.

An expert in rail engineering says all rail crossings need to upgraded, urgently, while unofficial or illegal crossings should either be permanently closed off or upgraded with the proper safety equipment. Unofficial crossings are those that are used by locals, but are not approved by the State Railways of Thailand.

Chairperson of the Rail Engineering Committee at the Engineering Institute of Thailand, Rattapoohm Parichatprecha, gave suggestions about how to improve the rail crossings after an incident in Chachoengsao. On October 10, a train collided with a charter bus crossing the railway, killing 18 and injuring 44 who were on their way to a merit-making ceremony. Officials say the signal was broken and the crossing didn’t have a barrier gate to block traffic.

Then, a passenger train collided with a car, killing a woman and injuring 2 others at a railway crossing in Phetchaburi’s Khao Yai district on October 15.

The State Railway of Thailand says an average of 77 railway crossing incidents happen each year, killing an average of 28 people yearly and injuring 74. Some crossings are known as “black spots” where accidents occur more frequently, sometimes up to 4 times a year.

Rattapoohm says all legal crossings upgrade the warning signs and barricades, but warns that revamping the crossings could be expensive. In a previous report, Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob acknowledged that the State Railways of Thailand’s budget to install railroad crossing gates has been cut.

The size of the rail crossing as well as the direction also comes into play, according to Rattapoohm.

“The width of the crossing must not be at least three metres. The road should also cut through the rail tracks in a straight line and not in a diagonal direction which would create blind spots.”

He says tree canopies must also be trimmed regularly to prevent branches and leaves from obstructing the view for both train conductors and drivers crossing the railway.

For illegal crossings, Rattapoohm says some can stay put since they are just used by the locals who are familiar with the terrain and know where the blind spots are, but says they should make sure the unofficial crossings stay off Google Maps.

“People outside the areas are unaware of the lurking danger the illegal crossings pose and many just follow directions in Google Map.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Schools advised to improve online learning in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Schools advised to improve online learning in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Equitable Education Fund Facebook

Thailand schools are told to get ready for a possible second wave of Covid-19 and prepare to for lockdown measures – just in case – to make sure all children have equal access to education. An economist warns that the education gap between rich children in urban areas and poor children in rural areas could widen if schools shut down again and resort to the same online learning measures tried out months ago.

In an online seminar called “My school and Covid-19,” human development economist Dilaka Lathapitate stressed that school closures and the switch to online learning during the lockdown period led to an increase in the country’s education disparity. Dilaka, from the education unit of the World Bank in Bangkok, says Thailand’s education system isn’t ready for another outbreak.

“The pandemic denied many children, particularly those in rural areas, learning and self-development opportunities.”

Thailand tried the “distance learning” experiment during the lockdown, but it was deemed a failure. Many in remote areas had problems like the lack of WiFi, faulty reception and limited to no access to working computers. At one point, hundreds of volunteers were sent out by the Equitable Education Fund teach children in remote areas.

Taking students out of the classrooms and moving to online learning hit poor students the hardest, according to chairperson of the Princess Maha Chakri Award Foundation, Krissanapong Kirtikara. He says those students are often the most in need of comprehensive support.

Thailand isn’t ready to implement online learning, Dilaka says. If there was another coronavirus outbreak, the education gap between the rich and the poor would likely widen due to access to technology. Dilaka cited a survey that showed a “digital divide” between children in urban and rural areas.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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