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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Cooking gas price hike; Ensure car locked; Land returned; To foster closer Thai-American ties

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Cooking gas price hike; Ensure car locked; Land returned; To foster closer Thai-American ties | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Court petitioned to block LPG price hike
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The foundation for Consumers yesterday filed a petition with the Central Administrative Court, seeking an order blocking a Cabinet resolution to hike the retail price of household LPG.

The hike of liquefied petroleum gas by 50 satang per kilogram is scheduled to go into effect from Sunday – the same day that the price of electricity and expressway tolls will be raised.

The planned cooking-gas hike is one of the many factors that are increasing the cost of living. The others are higher petrol prices, rising cost of utilities and more expensive food items – all at a time when the baht is getting weaker.

The global price of oil has surged 27 per cent since touching a low of $86.68 on April 17. It was recently propelled higher by the political unrest in Egypt and the threat of US intervention in Syria’s civil war, according to the Associated Press. Neither country is a major oil exporter, but traders are concerned that the violence could spread to more important oil-exporting countries or disrupt major transport routes.

The consumers’ foundation, claiming the government resolution went against the law and the Constitution, said yesterday that the price of cooking gas should be maintained at Bt18.13 per kg until a legitimate resolution ordered otherwise.

The petition was submitted by the foundation’s secretary-general Saree Ongsomwang, Bangkok Senator Rosana Tositrakul, Network of People as Thai Energy Owners coordinator Itthaboon Onwongsa, Confederation of Consumer Organizations chair Boonyuen Siritham and Thai Labor Solidarity Committee chairman Chalee Loysung.

The complaint named five defendants – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the Cabinet, the National Energy Policy Council, Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisa and the Energy Planning and Policy Committee – in relation to the August 13 resolution. The hike reportedly reflects the Bt24.82 per kg cost incurred at gas-separation plants.

The petition said the Cabinet resolution would adversely affect individuals, was discriminatory, created an unnecessary burden on people and was the result of an illegitimate decision.

The group’s lawyer Jintana Tositrakul said they were still waiting to see if the court was ready to order an immediate injunction as requested and that the group was ready to present witnesses and evidence if the court was willing to try the case.

Boonyuen, a co-plaintiff, said the group would not object to the hike if it was actually necessary, but they believe the order goes against the law on several aspects and want it to be investigated.

Meanwhile, members of the Network of People as Thai Energy Owners gathered outside the PTT headquarters in Bangkok’s Chatuchak area yesterday to rally against the LPG price hike. They vowed to run a campaign from September 1-8 to gather 50,000 signatures demanding the removal of Pongsak as Energy Minister. The group has also threatened to hold a large rally on September 9 to push for his removal.

The group is also demanding the immediate dismissal of the Energy Ministry’s permanent secretary and director-general of the Department of Mineral Fuels on grounds that they failed to do their job of ensuring the maximum benefits for the people properly. They also want the government to reveal petroleum concession contracts and what it earns from energy-related businesses, as well as to get officials supervising energy matters to declare their assets.

They also want Energy Ministry officials who sit on the boards of energy-related businesses to quit the civil service due to a conflict of interest, and want the gas and oil-drilling concession system to be changed so the government can ensure the benefits are equally allocated.

Kornkasiwat Kasemsri, a leading member of the network, told a press conference that the plan to hike the cost of cooking gas from Sunday would severely affect people, despite the government’s populist policies aimed at helping low-income households.

Motorists urged to ensure cars locked
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police and academics have again warned motorists to physically check if their doors are locked after high-tech car thieves started using stronger jammers to foil remote controls.

“Drivers should use a key to lock their cars,” Pol Gen Somyos Phumphanmuang, a deputy National Police chief and director of the Car and Motorcycle Theft Suppression Center, told a press conference yesterday.

Car thieves are steadily improving their techniques to break into people’s vehicles and steal their valuables, as shown by the arrest of Wichien Bandasak, 48, in the parking lot of Macro’s Bang Phli branch in Samut Prakan on August 22.

Bang Kaew police nabbed the man while he was allegedly ransacking customers’ cars. Police found that the suspect used a modified “walkie-talkie” radio transceiver with its frequency raised to match the targeted cars’ remote control signal. With this device, remotes within 25-55 meters of a car can’t lock the doors.

This was more effective than using other marques’ remotes to interfere with the targeted cars’ remote, he added.

Dusit Suksawat, a lecturer in electrical engineering and technology at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, said the latest gadget had two antennas that could send out two stronger signals. The devices could be bought anywhere for about Bt5,000 and modified by experts to create signals strong enough to be used for criminal purposes.

Sayamon Kanchanawisitpol said she noticed a Mini Cooper parked nearby before she left her car to go into Macro to buy something. Fifteen minutes later, she was told that her car had been broken into by a thief, but police had caught him in time.

She said the thieves might not target particular brands of cars, but were more likely to target a car used by a lone woman. She urged fellow motorists to be more careful when locking their cars so that they wouldn’t be victimized by thieves using hi-tech methods against cars’ safety systems.

Forestry Department tears down fence surrounding 92-rai plot of land
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Forestry Department director-general Boonchob Sutthamanaswong led 100 officials and volunteers yesterday to tear down a 1,000 cement-pillar fence, put up by alleged owners to mark a 92-rai plot of land, after authorities found the plot was located in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Phu Luang national forest reserve.

As requested by locals, the 92-rai plot will now be registered as community forest. Boonchob said this operation was a proactive measure against those encroaching on forestland.

It was reported that the land in question, located at the foot of a mountain in Pak Chong district’s Tambon Wang Kratha, was also split into several 10-rai plots to be sold at between Bt1 million and Bt2 million – fetching a possible Bt30 million in total.

Although the case was separate from the recent Wang Nam Khieo forestland encroachment case involving 43 plots (1,400 rai) being investigated by police, Boonchob said the fence could be dismantled under the National Reserved Forest Act, BE 2507 (1964).

Boonchob said the agency recei

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

No vaccine, no entry – the world’s next travel challenge

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No vaccine, no entry – the world’s next travel challenge | The Thaiger

OPINION

UPDATE: Australia’s national airline has already said it will impose “proof of vaccine” on all inbound and outbound international flights, a situation that IATA says they are likely to follow. Read more HERE.

ORIGINAL POST: With the announcements this week about several vaccine candidate trials, either being completed or at the end of their Phase 3 testings, and the applications to government bodies for ‘emergency approval’, we now have to face the next question.

What restrictions will be imposed on those people who don’t have the vaccine, or even actively choose not to have the vaccine?

And more locally…

Will Thailand allow people to enter Thailand without first having the Covid-19 vaccine?

Given the Thai Government’s low-risk strategy, well almost zero-risk strategy, and reluctance to take any chances with a second wave of Covid 19, it is highly likely there will be a stipulation that anyone entering Thailand will need a vaccine certificate or stamp in their passports.

Couple this with the Thai population’s continued fear of allowing foreigners back into the country at this time, in poll after poll, and it’s a safe bet there will be a “no vaccine, no entry” restriction imposed.

On a positive note, the Thai government may drop the 14 day quarantine for people that have had the vaccine (but not in the early days).

At this stage we know that most of the vaccine trials have had a 95% efficacy. We also know that the leading BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine needs an original jab plus a booster and has to be transported at extremely low temperature.

To complicate matters, there is not yet sufficient evidence that having had a bout of Covid-19, whether asymptomatic or not, guarantees you immunity. Or, if it does, for how long?

All these factors will mean that some level of quarantine will probably be in force as the Thai government slowly re-opens its borders to a wider groups of vaccinated travellers. This would remain in force until the world has a better knowledge of both the proven efficacy of the vaccine, or vaccines, and the re-infection rates.

So, even if we start getting groups of the world’s populations vaccinated before the end of the year, and that’s still a very big IF, there’s a lot more water to pass under the bridge until a coherent, reliable vaccine strategy can be understood and implemented.

Then there will be a rump of people, either hard core anti-vaxxers, or others who are at least skeptical of a new vaccine, who will want to wait or not want the vaccine at all. Public education, some strong science and a successful roll out of the early vaccines will be a key to winning over a lot of the world’s population.

Somehow governments and health authorities are going to have to wind back much of the disinformation floating around the internet about vaccines that is so factually out of whack with reality, it’s going to be one of the greatest public health challenges of all time, to reassure people about the science of vaccines and vaccination.

All this, in the middle of a pandemic that, for now, is still on the ascendency as far as new cases and deaths are concerned.

But there is little doubt rejoining the world of international travel, even local travel, could become restricted to only those who are vaccinated. The rest will be stuck roaming around their own countries, or states, for… years with a raft of restrictions on their lives. Who knows.

Will shopping centres or public buildings also impose a “no vaccine, no entry” policy? Hotels? Public buildings? Job applications?

On top of the economic stress which has fallen on a lot of the world, with so many governments now facing the headwinds of deep recession, the vaccine ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will add even more public disquiet.

At this stage nobody is sure how the vaccine will be rolled out in Thailand. The Thai government has already signed up for several of the leading vaccine candidates and will most likely provide the vaccine for free to citizens under its public health system.

What does that mean for foreigners living here? If you are covered, with a work permit, under the country’s public health, are you able to get the vaccine for free too? Will the thousands of foreigners on private health insurance be covered?

Surely the insurers will want its customers to be vaccinated. Sick customers cost them money. So, will insurance renewals be limited to only people who have been vaccinated? Will visas be renewed only if you have been vaccinated?

At this stage there are no firm answers to any of these questions.

And then there is the SARS Cov2 virus (Covid-19) itself, a living virus which has the ability to mutate and adapt. Will these new vaccines be effective against all mutations? Again, this is all ahead of us.

We’re certainly now entering a new phase of this pandemic. New challenges, new questions. The rising numbers of cases throughout 2020 is only the first chapter of a book that will be many more years in the making.

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Holiday road toll, protests tomorrow, GDP recovery | November 24

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Thailand News Today | Holiday road toll, protests tomorrow, GDP recovery | November 24 | The Thaiger

There’s been some heavy downpours around sections of Bangkok over the past few days. We start with some video of the flooded streets. Then, into the news…

139 killed, 653 injured, as Thailand’s holiday weekend sees surge in road accidents

The Ministry of Transport has confirmed that hundreds of road traffic accidents have taken place over Thailand’s 4 day holiday weekend.

139 people have died and 653 have been injured in the course of the 4 day break, which was introduced to boost domestic tourism.

455 car accidents were recorded, with nearly 79% of them being caused by excessive speed. 82 people died in car accidents, with another 466 injured.Another 153 accidents involved motorbikes, with 47 bike riders killed and 165 injured.

Public transport vehicles and trucks accounted for 21 accidents, with 13 caused by trucks, 5 by buses, and 3 by trains. Over 10.7 million people took to public transport between last Wednesday night and Sunday night.

Protesters target the Crown Property Bureau tomorrow, taking direct aim at the country’s Monarchy

Tomorrow the protest road show moves to the Crown Property Bureau in Phitsanulok Road, taking aim directly at the the management of the Thai monarch’s affairs.

Protesters, who first brought up the issue of the role of the Thai Monarchy in July this year, say they have “a big surprise” in store. This will be the first time when the entire focus of the protest will be Thailand’s Head of State, previously considered a taboo topic in Thai society and the media.

The Crown Property Bureau is the quasi-government agency responsible for managing the property of the Thai Monarch. The bureau is legally defined as a juristic entity and is not a government agency. It also has no tax obligations.

In speeches during last week’s protests, speakers at the rally said… “we demand the return of taxpayers’ money”.

But Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha questioned the protester’s plans…

“Why they want to get close to the Crown Property Bureau? I think you know their purpose.”

There’s a longer article with some history about the Crown Property Bureau at TheThaiger.com

Protester slammed for dressing as schoolgirl to highlight sexual harassment in Thai schools

2 government MPs have criticised a member of the “Bad Students” protest movement after she dressed as a schoolgirl to highlight sexual harassment in Thai schools.

In an online protest, the activist put on a school uniform and held up a sign condemning sexual harassment in the Thai education system.

Whilst her actions have generally been supported by netizens, some pro-establishment figures have hit out at the protester including 2 Palang Pracharat MPs, who says the protester’s decision to wear a school uniform will bring Thai schools into disrepute.

His accusation comes as sexual harassment figures from the Office of Basic Education Commission have been released, showing hundreds of sexual harassment incidents recorded between 2013 – 2017. In January this year alone, there were over 700 cases reported of sexual harassment. The report says that many other victims remain too scared to come forward.

Finance Minister says Thailand’s GDP will take 2 years to recover

Thailand’s finance minister says the country’s GDP will take 2 years to recover the 9% it has lost since the Covid pandemic ravaged the economy.

The Finance Minister says the economy would have expanded by 3% this year if it weren’t for the pandemic.

“The pandemic crisis will make the economy contract by around 6% in 2020, therefore there is a 9% gap that needs to be recuperated. If Thailand’s GDP growth could arrive at 4% in 2021 and 2022, this would propel the country’s economic growth momentum to return to a normal ratio.”

As for the 2022 budget, he says it is still being designed to support economic growth through public investments in infrastructure and energy, with some projects relying more heavily on help from the private sector.

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai.

Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally where 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

The Chalong police leading investigations into the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, where both denied the charges. The 2 men have been released on bail.

But he says the investigation is yet to begin with police saying they haven’t even questioned the owner of the school.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

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Drugs

Positive test for ketamine was a “technical error”

The Thaiger

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Positive test for ketamine was a “technical error” | The Thaiger

A “technical error” in field testing had led to the false claim that 11.5 tonnes of ketamine had been seized at a warehouse in Chachoesngsao province. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, made the admission at a media briefing called to clear up the matter.

The 475 sacks containing were seized by ONCB officials during a raid on a warehouse at tambon Tha Kham in Bang Pakong district, in Chachoengsao province, on November 12 which prompted authorities to tout the discovery as the biggest drug bust ever. But officials jumped the gun as the testing fluid that turned purple, indicating ketamine was found, was wrong after 66 sacks were further tested.

The further testing revealed the sacks were filled with trisodium phosphate, a compound used legally as a food additive and stain remover. Somsak said a “technical error in the field” led to the assumption it was ketamine as trisodium phosphate would also turn the testing fluid purple. The large TSP labels on the sacks could have been a valuable clue as Thai police paraded proudly in front of the contraband.

“No matter, we have admitted the mistake, and it may not be corrected in the short term.”

Asked if the blunder could affect the credibility of the Justice Ministry and the ONCB, Somsak said he accepted all criticicism and to make the matter clear, he would ask the police Forensic Science Division, the Department of Medical Science and the ONCB to make lab tests with results being known this week.

“I accept the fact it might have been premature to hold a press conference to announce the seizure of a substance suspected to be a kind of drug. But in this case, the ONCB had been informed of the seizure of ketamine in Taiwan, investigated and found an undeniable link to it. It would have been a mistake if I did not make it public.”

“The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said this also happened two or three times in other countries. This was the first time in Thailand. Moreover, on the day I held the press conference, I did not say it was 100% ketamine.”

Authorities are saying they would find out where the substance in the warehouse came from, and for what purpose as they believed it could be used to conceal illicit drugs, including ketamine. The ONCB chief said the man who rented the warehouse to store the sacks had fled before the raid and avoided arrest. However, they are currently compiling a case to apply for a court warrant for his arrest in connection with the seizure of ketamine in Taiwan.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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