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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: 5 dead in Ayutthaya bridge collapse; NSC rebuts BRN demands; Academics call to scrap flood plan

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: 5 dead in Ayutthaya bridge collapse; NSC rebuts BRN demands; Academics call to scrap flood plan | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

5 dead in Ayutthaya bridge collapse
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A suspension bridge over Pa Sak River in Ayutthaya collapsed yesterday evening, crushing five people to death underneath a pillar on one side, while wounding 15 others.

The collapse also sent a large number of pedestrians and motorcyclists into the water, but there were no casualties. The Bicentenary Bridge, 20 metres above the water, has been regularly used. The bridge is believed to have collapsed after the slings broke.

NSC rebuts BRN demands
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: National Security Council Secretary-General Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut went into a damage-control mode yesterday after Hasan Taib, the self-proclaimed “liaison” officer of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinate (BRN-C) made public a list of demands that could derail the recently started talks on peace in the far South.

Gen Paradon said he would raise the issues at today’s dialogue with the so-called BRN-C representatives. However, the NSC chief went on the record to dismiss the demand that the Malaysian government be given the role of “mediator”, as opposed to “facilitator” for the peace process.

He was just as dismissive of Hasan’s demand for the role of outsiders – Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Asean members, or foreign non-government organisations (NGOs) – being part of the dialogue process on the grounds that the conflict in the Muslim-majority southernmost provinces is an internal matter.

Hasan and his associates had the right to go public with these demands, he said. They include the release of all prisoners held on charges related to the ongoing insurgency, dropping all charges against suspected separatist militants, and recognising that BRN is not a “separatist” but a “liberation” movement.

Gen Paradon tried hard to calm concern that the demands may jeopardise the talks because, according to Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk, Hasan’s demands effectively “derail the terms of reference that Thailand put in place when they signed the agreement to talk on February 28, 2013.”

“Don’t worry about these five demands. Everything has to be under the Constitution,” said Gen Paradon.

“It’s a good thing that they went online to make their demands because now we know what they want. And we are prepared to listen,” he said.

Gen Paradon left last night for Kuala Lumpur for today’s meeting, the second round since the historic February 28 peace agreement. He said he would raise these issues with Hasan’s camp at the meeting.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Gen Paradon dodged a question about the demand to drop charges against suspected militants, saying a number of arrest warrants were made out for suspects who did not show up to meet officials to clear their name.

“Officials have no choice but to make out the warrants because they did not show up to meet the authorities when asked to do so. These are the things we have to look into and reconsider,” Gen Paradon said.

In the statement posted on YouTube yesterday, Hasan vowed to fight on against the Thai government who he referred to as “Siamese colonialists” until the area is liberated and added that all residents of Patani, the Malays’ historical homeland that is now part of Thailand’s southernmost provinces, will be treated justly and equally regardless of whether they are “Malay, Chinese or Siamese”.

Sources in the longstanding separatist movements, including BRN Coordinate members not affiliated with Hasan’s camp, told The Nation that the video was Hasan’s “exit strategy” from the peace process because he knew he would be unable to influence the current generation of separatist militants on the ground.

It was a way for him to “save face” and “redeem” himself, they said.

Members of these long-standing separatist movements accused Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur of luring Hasan into a peace process to serve their political aims.

For Malaysia, being seen as a mediator would attract votes at the upcoming general election. And for Bangkok, it was a way to “whitewash” the de facto leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup on allegations that, among other things, he mishandled the conflict in the South.

They pointed out that Bangkok had never asked Hasan to verify that he has “command-and-control” of militants on the ground.

Since the meeting on February 28, Thai delegates and Hasan’s team have met once. The next meeting is scheduled to take place today, also in Kuala Lumpur.

Hasan’s video was released on the eve of April 28, anniversary of the Krue Se Mosque stand-off between security forces and nearly 40 lightly armed insurgents who fortified themselves inside the historic mosque as they engaged in a lengthy gunfight until they were overpowered and killed.

On April 28, 2004, well over 100 young Malay Muslim militants simultaneously attacked 10 police outposts and one station in the far South with little more than machetes.

Survivors said they were members of a militant cell led by Ismail Yaralong, also known as Ustaz Soh, who inspired them to take up a suicidal mission.

Ustaz Soh led them to believe that they were invincible through his mystical-leaning teaching. All the dead insurgents on that day were buried as martyrs in line with Islamic tradition.

Tawee Sodsong, director of the Southern Border Provinces Adminstrative Centre, said he thought Taib’s clip on YouTube was intended as a direct message to communicate with insurgents to slow down the violence.

The message also showed that he was willing to take part in the peace dialogue, not against his will at the request of Malaysian authorities, as speculated by sceptics. He did not elaborate on the Malaysian authorities’ part.

Scrap flood plan, academics tell govt
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A group of academics and NGOs yesterday called for the government to scrap its national strategy for water and flood management, saying it would drain the state budget, wash out local people’s lives and open the valves to massive corruption.

“The plan to borrow Bt350 billion for water management would cause severe damage to the country,” the group said in a statement.

The master plan of the Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy should be replaced by the Chao Phraya basin management plan proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which would save some 70 per cent of the cost.

The terms of reference for the projects under the master plan were riddled with loopholes that could lead to a flood of graft, said the statement presented by Sasin Chalermlarp, secretary-general of the Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation.

The foundation, together with a network of academics, the Foundation for Integrated Water Management, ThaiFlood.com and Rangsit University held a seminar on “exposing corruption in the plan to expropriate land under the Bt350 billion + Bt200 billion worth of water management projects”.

The statement raised six suspicious points:

  • The master plan lacked public participation, an environment impact assessment and a health impact assessment;
  • The nine operating modules l

    — Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
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The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

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Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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Protests

MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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