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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: CMPO considers lifting emergency decree; PDRC holds forum; Corruption now worse, says poll

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: CMPO considers lifting emergency decree; PDRC holds forum; Corruption now worse, says poll | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

CMPO considers lifting emergency decree
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: It is believed that the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) will seek government approval to lift the state of emergency and replace it with the Internal Security Act (ISA) this week.

National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday that the government had to conform to the Civil Court’s order as well as respond to the business sector’s call to scrap the emergency decree due to the negative impacts on the economy. He added that the authorities might impose the ISA instead.

A security source, who asked not to be named, said changing over to the to the ISA was aimed at avoiding the nine points the Civil Court had prohibited action on.

CMPO director and caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said the emergency decree did not really exist because of the restrictions the court had placed. He added that it was up to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to decide if the government should impose the ISA, adding that he expected a repeat of the 2010 riots because the government did not have full authority.

Meanwhile, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul criticised the Civil Court’s decision in light of the politics-related violence in the country.

He said the Cabinet should instruct the police to look into whether the emergency decree should be lifted and if it finds grounds to keep it in place, then it should not be scrapped.

The decree is set to expire on March 22.

CMPO member Tarit Pengdith said the centre had asked the Civil Court to withdraw its prohibition and had called on the Criminal Court to deny bail permission for PDRC’s Rawee Maschamadol after he led a rally to the Energy Ministry last week.

The CMPO also petitioned the Constitutional Court yesterday, asking it to order PDRC protesters to stop rallying as they were not really peaceful.

The petition also said that the protesters were making an unconstitutional attempt to come to power. It submitted 60 boxes with 930 folders of documents as evidence. These included photographs of violent incidents and transcripts of PDRC leaders’ speeches.

Protesters refuse to move from Chaeng Wattana
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The second round of negotiation to talk People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) into moving from Chaeng Wattana to Muang Thong Thani has failed, Maj-General Surachart Jitjaeng, chief of the Defence Ministry’s public relations department said yesterday.

Surachart said protest leader Phra Buddha Issara said the protesters would stop blocking traffic on Chaeng Wattana Road only if General Nipat Thonglek, the Defence Ministry’s permanent secretary, spent three nights and three days at the rally site.

However, Nipat has only agreed to spend one night – from 6pm to 6am – at the site. Surachart said the monk was also insisting that the negotiators put their lives on the line should any violence break out at the rally site. He added that he was not sure if there would be a third round of negotiation.

Phra Buddha Issara said the negotiators wanted the protesters to relocate, not just open the road to the traffic. He said talks like this could be a breach of the Civil Court’s order for an injunction against the government’s imposition of emergency decree.

He added he would lead protesters and farmers to pledge 10 truckloads of rice to a government agency today. He did not disclose which government agency this would be.

Public sector graft worse, poll finds
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Public sector corruption was a major problem last year, with the “Corruption Situation Index” (CSI) in December showing that 75 per cent of those polled saying it had got worse. That was up 12 percentage points from 2012. This trend needs to be rectified immediately through pressure from the whole community, social and business groups said.

Speaking at a seminar sponsored by the Thailand Development Research Institute yesterday, Deunden Nikomborirak, the TDRI’s research director for economic governance, said: “The problem of corruption has been escalating since 2010 because Thais have lost their trust in politicians, and it is the most problematic factor for doing business in Thailand.”

Sauwanee Thairungroj, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), which compiled the CSI, said 75 per cent of respondents believed that the current problem of corruption was worse than a year earlier, when the figure was 63 per cent.

The CSI’s sample of 2,400 people consisted 51.9 per cent of ordinary citizens, 24.4 per cent civil servants and 23.6 per cent business operators.

Civil servants and politicians are the main sources of corruption, according to poll results from the UTCC and the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).

The CSI found that 15.1 per cent of respondents believed that lack of enforcement and loopholes within the regulations were allowing rampant corruption in the public sector, usually in the form of “using political positions for personal benefit” (15 per cent), bribery (14.8 per cent), corrupted policy (12.2 per cent) and nepotism and cronyism (12.2 per cent).

A NIDA poll of 1,249 individuals in 2013 also found that lack of enforcement (45.88 per cent) and loopholes within the law (39.69 per cent) were the main factors worsening corruption.

Suvicha Pouaree, director of the NIDA poll, said other surveys it had conducted last year also found that the majority of people believed that government mega-projects were most prone to corruption because of the amount of money involved.

The polls showed that a majority believed that the planned Bt2-trillion infrastructure (74.78 per cent) and water-management (82.93 per cent) programmes would be prone to corruption. However, only a minority (31.3 per cent) believed that the late payments to farmers in the rice-pledging scheme were also due to graft.

Yet another survey, this one by the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD) with a sample size of 1,066 company directors, managers and chief executives, found that 75 per cent of business operators believed that corruption had been on the rise in the past two years, and 93 per cent believed that the problem was at the high to highest level. However, 38 per cent still thought the problem of corruption could still be solved.

The survey found that the communications (15 per cent), energy (14), agriculture (11), real estate (10), and construction sectors (9 per cent) were most prone to corruption.

Like the UTCC and NIDA polls, the IOD survey also found that lack of enforcement and transparency were the main factors that allow corruption to continue to exist.

In the IOD survey, 93 per cent of business operators said corruption was hampering their ability to do business in the private sector, and 68 per cent said the problem was affecting their businesses severely. Some 55 per cent said the biggest problem was rising operating costs and 24 per cent said they would have to incre

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Josiah Weiss

Cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to dock in Thailand and visitors will be allowed disembark under the Special Tourist Visa. The new measure hasn’t been made official yet, but it will go into effect 30 days after it’s published in the Royal Gazette.

The Cabinet approved the new guidelines yesterday which allows captains, crew and passengers travelling from countries considered at low risk for spreading Covid-19 to dock in Thailand and enter the country, according to deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul.

Visitors must go through a 14 day quarantine. Those on yachts will quarantine onboard before stepping onto Thai soil, according to the Bangkok Post. They must also have Covid-19 health insurance of $100,000 USD as well as local health and accident insurance. Proof of advance payment for anchoring the liner will also have to be provided.

The Special Tourist Visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to around 9 months. So far, only 2 flights of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa have arrived after a 7 month ban on international tourists.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram

Caitlin Ashworth

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Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

A fuel tanker has exploded after a collision with a trailer truck, causing both vehicles to be engulfed in flames in a series of explosions. Fuel from the 40,000-litre tank spilled out onto the road, spreading about 1 kilometre to nearby homes and into the sewers. People trying to douse the spreading flames found they were just pushing the flaming fuel further down the road, 20 cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks parked along the road were damaged or destroyed in the fire. Many people were injured, but there is no exact count.

The fuel tanker truck and the trailer truck collided on Highway 24 in the Isaan province Buri Ram. The drivers were able to flee before the first explosion. There were a series of explosions as the fuel spread and nearby residents fled their homes. People tried to put the flames out with tap water, but fire continued to spread.

50 fire engines responded to the fire and the road was closed off for a radius of 5 kilometres. It took firefighters more than 4 hours to extinguish the fire. The oil company was called to safely unload 30,000 litres of fuel that was left in the tanker.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island?

Caitlin Ashworth

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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island? | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

OPINION

Koh Pha Ngan was voted third best island in Asia in the 2020 Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards. The island is widely known for its monthly Full Moon parties on Haad Rin beach, but Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto, who boasted about the island’s recent rating, said there’s more to Koh Pha Ngan than Haad Rin.

Condé Nast publishes a monthly travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, as well as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue. It’s safe to say the publication’s target audience is more interested in luxury resorts than dirt cheap party hostels and monthly beach raves. For example, for the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was voted number 1. It’s a golf lovers paradise and a popular vacation spot for suburban families.

A trip Koh Pha Ngan can be a completely different experience depending on where you go and what you do. Some stay on Haad Rin on the southeastern side of the island and have a trip like Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fueled “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” while some go to the western side for a yoga or healing retreat.

The Full Moon parties, which would draw more than 30,000 mostly foreign tourists, was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Thailand. But before the outbreak, the parties were known to be crazy with neon glow paint, fire jump rope and cheap buckets of alcohol and use of illicit drugs. The sand was so sticky that people were better off wearing shoes, and just about everyone pees (and pukes) in the ocean.

Even on the west side of the island, where it’s more known for yoga and meditation retreats, things can sometimes get a little weird. A tourist said she did a “spiritual healing” ritual on the island known as a kambo cleanse where secretion from a South American frog is applied to burnt skin. She said “I feels like you’re dying” but “it’s great.”

While the west side of the island has trendy resorts and bungalows, as well as a variety of yoga retreats and pricy vegan food, some people also live on a budget – a very tight budget. Some tourists even camped out on a hidden beach during the pandemic, a tourist claims. A local artist said he lives in a cave on the same beach.

Koh Pha Ngan topped Bali, Indonesia, which was number 9 on the list. Phuket was number 8 on the list and Koh Samui was number 10.

Here’s what made the top 10 Asia islands in the Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards 2020.

  1. Cebu & Visayas, Philippines 95.83
  2. Sri Lanka 95.45
  3. Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand 95.30
  4. Palawan, Philippines 95.22
  5. Siargao Island, Philippines 95.19
  6. Boracay, Philippines 95.06
  7. Lombok, Indonesia 94.59
  8. Phuket, Thailand 94.12
  9. Bali, Indonesia 93.27
  10. Koh Samui, Thailand 92.73

SOURCES: Condé Nast | Bangkok Post

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