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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: No coup, says Army; Oil slick seafood safe; Brit teachers arrive in force

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: No coup, says Army; Oil slick seafood safe; Brit teachers arrive in force | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

No coup, Army insists, despite rising tension
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The army yesterday dismissed the possibility of a military coup amid the escalating political tension. “This unfounded theory was just the personal imagination of some people who are out to confuse the public,” deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suwaree said.

Many reports circulating in social media have no basis in fact and falsely link the Army with politics. People should not be overly sensitive and should exercise good judgement in what information they take in, he said.

The Army and its chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha have been busy assisting flood victims across the country and organising celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday.

The public should not to be alarmed about any cross-country movements of Army equipment that usually take place at this time of year.

The atmosphere at the anti-government rally in Lumpini Park by the ‘People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime’ grew more excited. Organisers put up a large temporary stage in front of the King Rama VI Monument with a message “Time to destroy the country is up. Tyrants must leave”. Speakers took turns onstage to attack the government.

The movement’s leaders said the rally would remove the Yingluck government from power within seven days. Vendors set up street stalls to sell white masks and T-shirts emblazoned with anti-government messages.

Security was stepped up at Government House with barbed wire and security officials at every gate.

Signs saying “Government House is state property and off limits to outsiders” or “strictly restricted zone” were posted on entrances and exits.

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Facebook ridiculed the rally, saying many core leaders were people without noteworthy achievements. The Democrats were reprimanded for siding with the protesters. The opposition bloc should relax and wait for its turn to form the government, he said.

Many leaders of anti-government campaigns were retired senior military or police brass with “broken hearts” from missing out on key positions during reshuffles when they were still in the service. Many retirees’ names had also been monopolised by the movement without their consent, he said.

Security at Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s residence on Yothinpattana Soi 3 has been beefed up with riot control police manning checkpoints set up around the vicinity. Metal barricades ringed the checkpoints and carparks. Yingluck stayed indoors the whole day.

Police dismissed reports that anti-government protesters would fan out to various destinations including Yingluck’s home.

Democrat party-list MP Ong-art Klampaiboon said if the government was sincere about not helping any particular person in debating an amnesty bill on Wednesday, it must not try to pass the bill in three straight readings and must broadcast the debate on state television channels.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit criticised Democrat Suthep Thaugsuban for vowing to lead a campaign to overthrow the government.

“His actions have confused the public. It’s worrisome because Suthep thinks he cannot beat us at the parliamentary system so he must overthrow us unparliamentarily,’ he said.

Prompong also played down coup rumours, saying the people who started spreading coup rumours in social media harboured political motivations and they should take responsibility for their actions.

Pol Maj Gen Piya, spokesman of the police peace-keeping centre, said some high-ranking officials mentioned by the People’s Army as its supporters have denied their involvement with the group, including Pol Lt General Adithep Panchamanont, who has submitted a letter to the police refuting the report he supported the group seeking to overthrow the ‘Thaksin government’ and had filed a police complaint already.

Govt’s approval rating sinks to a new low
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: At the halfway point in its four-year term, the Yingluck government’s job approval rating has sunk to its lowest level, according to a Bangkok University Poll.

On a scale of 10, the government scored 4.49, down 0.38 from the 18-month point in its term. The government scored the highest mark of 5 for its achievements in foreign affairs and the lowest mark of 3.98 for its economic performance.

About 55 per cent of respondents said they did not know where the Yingluck government was leading the country, while 27 per cent believed it was leading Thailand in the right direction. Some 17 per cent believed the country was being led in the wrong direction.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was given a job approval rating of 4.9, slipping by 0.48 to the lowest level since she took office. Her diligence and devotion to solving problems was rated at 5.4 and her decisiveness was the least impressive at 4.5.

Corruption in various projects has done the most damage to the government’s image, at 19.9 per cent, followed by corruption and losses in the rice-pledging scheme at 19.3 per cent, and failure to stem the rising cost of living at 11.1 per cent.

The poll was conducted recently on 1,419 people across the country.

Abac Poll surveyed 2,114 respondents from July 28-August 3 and found that the issue of passing an amnesty bill presented the greatest political risk with a score of 9.19 on a scale of 10, followed by political interference at 8.6 and the Bt2-trillion loan bill at 8.2.

Puntharee Isarankura na Ayuthaya, assistant director, said the government is vulnerable due to many factors, especially conflicts over amnesty, which may spark violence. The respondents suggested that the government suspend or call off the deliberation on the amnesty bill.

“Politicians who favour high risks, especially businessmen-cum-politicians, must beware and not carry risks too long. Their duty in democracy is to reduce conflicts, not provoke them or become the cause of conflict.”

Dusit Poll’s interviews of 1,176 people from July 29-August 2 showed that 54 per cent were fed up with political rallies because they caused national divisions and hurt the country’s image.

About 25 per cent believed political rallies can be kept within the scope of the law, 11 per cent said state officials must have efficient controls to prevent ill-intended groups from creating a situation, and 9 per cent said they feared loss of life and property as a result of political rallies.

About 37 per cent said political groups have the right to protest against an amnesty bill, 33 per cent said they opposed the rallies since they worked against the country’s image and economy, and 29 per cent supported the rallies for helping to raise political awareness.

Hunt continues for insurgents after attacks
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Security forces in Narathiwat yesterday intensified their massive hunt for insurgents suspected of conducting a series of attacks in the region.

The hunt was carried out with helicopters and security forces on foot, who focused their search on a number of districts including Rangae, Chanae, Joh I Rong, Sri Sakhon and Tak Bai. Troop patrols targeted hilly areas where some insurgents were thought t

— 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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