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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Deep South strategy wins support; Human trafficking reports slammed; Monk’s millions mount; White Masks to dance July 14

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Deep South strategy wins support; Human trafficking reports slammed; Monk’s millions mount; White Masks to dance July 14 | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Yingluck’s Deep South strategy wins support
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Measures introduced by the military to end insurgency in the deep South are well underway and should make good progress under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s concurrent role as defence minister, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng said yesterday.

The violence continued unabated yesterday, with a villager being shot dead in Songkhla in the afternoon and two Army paramilitary rangers being killed in an ambush in Pattani in the evening.

Meanwhile, the implementation of various projects is entering a new phase, as a vast area of abandoned farmland is being revitalised to boost harvest output and seminars were being held in 26 large communities to narrow the cultural gap and hear what the residents have to say, he added.

So far, 318 suspects have reported under the Army’s pardon scheme, and of them 171 were wanted on criminal and security warrants, the colonel said.

Thanathip went on to say that 12 journalists from seven Muslim countries visited the deep South last month as part of a project aimed at giving the international community, especially the global Islamic community, a better understanding of the situation. Victims of violence are also being compensated and cases that were previously delayed are being sped up, he added.

As of May 31, there were 120,472 cases of which 9,054 were security- or violence-related. Of the 9,054 cases, 6,916 have no known assailants and of the 2,138 cases with known suspects, 1,529 have already been arrested, the spokesman said.

In Songkhla’s Thepha district, former insurgent Samsudi Lahte, 62, was killed in a drive-by shooting outside a mosque. Police are investigating to see if the murder had anything to do with the victim being a former Patani United Liberation Organisation member. Later in Pattani’s Yaring district, a team of rangers was ambushed while escorting teachers, with two of them shot dead in a brief gunfight with insurgents.

White masks to rally again on July 14
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Just three days after saying that it would indefinitely suspend its rallies in Bangkok, the V-For-Thailand white-mask group announced on Thursday that it was holding a demonstration on July 14.

On Tuesday, the group said it would suspend its activities indefinitely for fear that somebody might step in to take over as leader and interfere with its principle of working without one.

Then, three days later, the administrator of the V-For-Thailand Facebook page posted a message saying the group would hold a rally on Sunday July 14 in Lumpini Park because it did not want to cause traffic jams.

The white-mask group had previously been holding small rallies at CentralWorld every Sunday, prompting an objection from the management.

Even though a message on the V-For-Thailand Facebook page said the CentralWorld rallies would be suspended indefinitely, some fans posted messages saying they would gather at the venue this Sunday regardless.

Yesterday, the administrator of the Facebook page posted a message saying the group was nobody’s tool.

Meanwhile, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, a leader of the Thai Patriotic Group, denied trying to steal the limelight from the group yesterday.

Media slammed over human trafficking coverage
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Centre for Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation (CPCR) yesterday slammed news media for treating reports on human trafficking as routine.

“The routine pattern of news will make audiences feel that these cases are just what happens every day and not issues of real, social importance,” said Wassana Kaonopparat, the centre’s director.

She said news reports on human trafficking tended only to emphasise who did what and where, with few details of real relevance.

“In fact, the media should also give information on the relevant laws involved and the channels through which members of the general public can offer to help victims of human trafficking,” Wassana said.

She emphasised that such information would enable people to play a role in preventing trafficking.

Wassana was speaking around the same time as the Social Development and Human Security Ministry was holding a seminar, “With Media Support, Human Trafficking Will End”, in Ranong. About 100 reporters attended the event.

Preecha Sornwisutra, the ministry’s inspector-general, who presided over the seminar, said it was high time for the press to get involved in helping to stop trafficking.

“The media can make the general public more aware of the seriousness of human trafficking.”

He added that the government was committed to fighting the scourge of human trafficking, which for many consecutive years had kept Thailand on the US Tier 2 Watch List.

Porntip Suksaran, Ranong’s social-development and human-security chief, yesterday said human trafficking was becoming more complex as perpetrators hired an ever-increasing network of recruits to evade capture.

“As Rayong experiences greater economic growth, there are more and more human traffickers portraying themselves as honest recruitment agents, but in fact what they are doing is luring young girls and women into the flesh trade,” she said.

Some of the victims, especially children, are forced into slave labour and begging gangs, she added.

Deputy Ranong Governor Wiroj Saengsiwarit said that with the ease of modern travel, people from Myanmar and other parts of the region could easily enter Thailand with the hope of finding better jobs.

“But sometimes, they are deceived and forced into activities they do not want to get involved in,” he said.

List of missing monk’s assets mounts
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: More illegal luxury assets allegedly belonging to jet-setting monk Luang Pu Nenkham have been unearthed in a joint investigation led by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the Office of National Buddhism (ONB).

The assets comprise several luxury cars, including a Rolls Royce and a Ferrari – and a large amount of cash stashed in 41 separate bank accounts.

ONB director Noppharat Benjawatthananant warned that Luang Pu Nenkham would be considered guilty, if he failed to return to Thailand by the end of the month.

Despite taking a vow of celibacy, Luang Pu Nenkham is also alleged to have had as many as seven lovers and to have fathered a number of children with them.

In addition, news reports have alleged that up to Bt200 million in donations has been uncovered in bank accounts belonging to his charity.

Luang Pu Nenkham, whose real name is Weeraphol Sukphol, was scheduled to return to Thailand on June 20, after the ONB approved his request to go on a month-long trip overseas.

Noppharat reiterated that under ONB regulations, any money donated to monks who have already been ordained must be spent on policies declared to the general public. He added that it was forbidden for monks to own any property other than

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Merve Selcuk Simsek

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine is out.

Thailand’s borders won’t fully reopen to international tourists until a vaccine is widely available to the public, according to Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country.

“It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

The new Special Tourist Visa is an effort intended to help revive Thailand’s tourism industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the sector makes but about a fifth of the nation’s economy. Last year, the tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion baht with about 40 million foreign visitors. With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chairat predicts tourism revenue will drop 82.6% to 336.5 billion baht by the end of the year.

“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand. Updates and all the latest information from thethaiger.com.

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme will land in Phuket on October 8.

The flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

The resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine.

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

The Education Minister is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country.

34 out of 42 of the schools have had complaints filed against them. Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. The Thonburi school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, it’s now been revealed that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri.

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand as a teacher, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the Koh Chang resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against the 34 year old in 2017. He was accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar, and later at a convenience store, told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident.

Of course the man’s criminal record doesn’t prevent him from posting negative reviews but provides just a little more context to the ongoing saga between the hotel and Mr Barnes.

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government.

While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough “headaches” with one of his coalition partners.

Meanwhile Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation. Under the current constitution the Thai PM is elected by a parliamentary majority, and not automatically coming from the leader of the party with the most number of votes. But a coalition between Prayut and Pheu Thai does seem, at face value, extremely unlikely.

Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan

Around 10 people were hospitalised after a chemical tank spilled at a village in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok.

Those near the spill reported feeling nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Officials do not known what chemical was in the tank.

The 1 metre tank had been taken into the forest by 2 employees at a second hand shop who hoped they could take it apart and sell the scrap metal. The 2 employees fainted when the tank spilled. Trees and grass in a 100 metre radius of the chemical spill also died.

The chemical let off a strong odour and Thai media says the fumes spread to a nearby village. Those at the second hand shop, close by to the chemical spill, started to feel nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Some people reported skin rashes after the incident. Around 10 villagers, including children, were sent to hospital.

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Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Esteban Lopez

Under a proposed law, Thailand farmers would be allowed to grow cannabis and hemp for export without going through cannabis certified universities or medical institutes. The National Farmers Council president Praphat Panyachatrak says he hopes the new law will be in place by next year. The legislation is still being reviewed by the Public Health Ministry and National Legislative Assembly, but Praphat says he expects an announcement will be made soon.

Thailand’s recent rush to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana follows the Bhumjaithai Party joining the government coalition in 2019, headed by current Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. His elected MPs provide essential votes for the fragile coalition. His party ran on a platform of legalising marijuana.

Thailand has been gearing up for the global cannabis trade with talk of classifying medical cannabis as an economic crop. The classification would allow the plant to be exported to other countries. The government has also talked about adding a variety of cannabis cultivars to keep up with the demanding cannabis industry.

The National Farmers Council has been advocating for the cultivation of cannabis and Praphat says the new law will make it easier for farmers to grow the plant. He adds that farmers would be able to get a permit to grow cannabis as soon as they got an order from overseas.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand and is considered a Category 5 narcotic. Those charged with distributing cannabis face 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine from 40,000 baht to 200,000 baht. Those caught distributing over 10 kilograms of cannabis face up to 15 years in prison and a fine from 200,000 baht to 1,500,000 baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Chiang Rai Times

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