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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Draconian IS Act to be lifted; Pollsters puzzle; Worawi confident

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

โ€“ Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

ISA to be lifted in five southern districts
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: To bolster dealings in the South between authorities and insurgent groups, the draconian Internal Security Act will be revoked in five districts in three provinces and replaced by the softer emergency decree, the National Security Council’s Paradorn Pattanathabut announced yesterday.

The areas designated are Kapho district in Pattani, Betong and Kabang districts in Yala, and Waeng and Sukhirin districts in Narathiwat.

The decision was made based on a recommendation by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC).

The period of the current ISA in the South expires on March 19 โ€“ and this NSC decision will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval next Tuesday.

Paradorn said he would go to Malaysia in the next two weeks to set the agenda, jointly with Malaysian authorities, for talks with four insurgent representatives.

Asked about what influence the representatives would have on active insurgents, Paradorn said the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate had several components and the first steps would mainly involve talks with its leadership.

As efforts to sort out the Islamic separatism continue, violence in the region also continued, with a defense volunteer shot dead in Narathiwat’s Rue Soh district, likely by insurgents. Marohsi Yaning was gunned down in an ambush while riding a motorcycle. He worked with a security outpost in Bacho district.

SBPAC director Thawee Sodsong called on local residents to take part in coming open discussions to be held throughout the strife-torn region, to create “better understanding between people with different thoughts”. He said the Foreign Ministry would handle any issues or efforts involving the next steps where foreign relations were relevant. He did not elaborate.

Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat said talks with the BRN Coordinate were the first step toward a non-violent solution, but conditions must not violate Thailand’s constitution. He was asked whether one of the four insurgent representatives appeared in a television program made possible five years ago by former Army chief Chettha Thanajaro. Sukampol said people who raised this issue were the same old people who wanted to hinder progress.

Appointed Senator Khamnoon Sitthisamarn called on the government to hold a House session for parliamentarians to make inquiries about the talks, authorized under the Constitution’s Article 179, about important state affairs. Another appointed Senator, Jate Siratharanont, said he welcomed the talks but secret deals leading to peace with insurgents should have been held before the talks were made public.

A member of a former national committee on peace solutions in the South, Hammadsomboon Bualuang, called for optimism on the violence issue. It was the outcome of the process, rather than the belief over whether these four people actually represented the insurgency, that was important, he said.

Citing peace solutions in other countries, he said most processes were time-consuming and the issue in Thailand might take 15 years, with violence expected to continue along the way.

Pollsters puzzle over how they got predictions wrong
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: Pollsters yesterday defended themselves against critics attacking their credibility, academic merit and neutrality after most came up with inaccurate poll results that forecast Pheu Thai Party candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen would beat Democrat Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

Most pollsters, except the Nida Poll, gave wrong projections from both pre-election and exit polls over who would be the winner in the governor’s race.

Bansomdej poll chief Sing Singkachorn also pointed out error margins, saying that according to academic statistics, exit polls carry an error margin, and the exit poll of the Sunday governor election had an error margin of 2 per cent.

In reality, the margin of the scores between Sukhumbhand and Pongsapat was 1.5 per cent.

Blame put on lack of time

He blamed time restrictions as the cause of error, saying the fact that exit polls collected data for only half of the day could result in inaccurate projections.

He said if pollsters used advanced technology so they could collect data longer, they might be able to reduce errors.

Nida poll chief Suwicha Pao-aree said the inaccurate exit poll results was a result of technical errors and not intentional.

First, the pollsters collected data for only the half-day, since they needed time to process the information.

Second, respondents did not give truthful answers because they did not trust the poll. He said this could be solved by avoiding face-to-face surveying and adopting phone-call surveys.

He said to restore public faith, pollsters who made wrong projections must review their methods and find out what went wrong.

Bangkok poll chief Kittisak Promrat defended his agency’s neutrality and the academic merit of its polls during the Bangkok governor’s race.

He said there were several factors that affected the accuracy of the poll, from the current political division to different cultures and norms.

He said he noticed that Pheu Thai Party supporters were more confident in expressing their political opinions, while the Democrat supporters were not so expressive.

Worawi confident of getting Asia’s backing to become soccer chief
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: Football Association of Thailand president Worawi Makudi is confident of securing the 24 members’ votes he needs in order to become head of the Asian Football Confederation in May.

Having secured backing from 11 members of the ASEAN Football Federation to run for Asian football president in the May 2 election, Worawi is convinced he can secure a majority vote to take over the post left vacant following the lifetime ban given to previous incumbent Mohamed bin Hammam.

“At the moment, I have 11 votes from the AFF nations plus another from Australia. Now, I’ll seek support from other countries. I think I can get more than 24 of the 46 votes, which would be enough to win the post,” said the Thai FA boss, who also sits on Fifa’s powerful 24-man executive committee.

“I have had initial talks with other countries. They all promised to support me so I feel relieved and confident that I will become the new AFC president.”

Among those Worawi has approached for their backing are South Asian members.

But South Asia’s regional body revealed last week it had yet to decide on who to back in the poll for the AFC post, which is currently held by China’s Zhang Jilong in a caretaker capacity.

“He called me and we had a chat,” South Asian Football Federation president Kazi Salahuddin told Reuters, without revealing details of his discussion with the Thai FA boss.

“We will have to see which way the wind blows. We have not yet decided who to support. We’ll have to see the final list and think what would be good for South Asian football. The election is in May, so we have some time before that. Maybe we’ll have a meeting in mid-April where we’ll decide.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Illegal border crossings bringing in new Covid-19 infections

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 infected border hoppers cross borders like this one betwen Malaysia and Thailand (via Wikimedia)

Authorities are worried about illegal border crossings into Thailand bringing in the Coronavirus after 5 recent Covid-19 infections from such crossings. Bypassing all health and security checkpoints along the border, 5 Thai nationals were identified today as being positive for Covid-19 after they snuck into the country, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

Authorities nabbed 2 after border crossings from Malaysia illegally on April 28 and May 3rd, while another snuck across the Burmese border into Tak on May 2. The last 2 came from Cambodia on Thursday across the Sa Kaeo border. All 5 illegal border crossers are now in state hospitals for Covid-19 treatment.

According to CCSA data in the first four months of 2021 a total of 15,378 people were arrested by Thai authorities while sneaking across borders. Even after security forces increased patrolling along the borders, people managed to sneak in from Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia. 6,700 of those who crossed the border were Burmese citizens, while another 1,700 of them were Thai nationals.

With nearly 400 lives lost to Covid-19 and over 83,000 people having been infected in the pandemic, the CCSA declared that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and National Security Council Secretary-General Natthapol Nakpanich agree that these illegal border crossers without Covid-19 screening are a serious problem.

Many Thai people work in Malaysia and as the pandemic drags on they are sneaking across the border, desperate to make it home to their family. Another recent case found illegal Burmese border hoppers in a taxi en route to Hat Yai after they crossed into Thailand from the Malaysian border. They were trying to travel incognito across Thailand in order to cross the border again back into their home country of Myanmar.

The dilemma is even worse at the Burmese border as the often violent protests following the February 1 military coup has been pushing much of the country into poverty, and creating refugees who are flocking to the border in hopes of crossing over to safety. Many are seeking to escape the conflict and find work in Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Economy

Thailand Consumer Confidence Index hits record low

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand's Consumer Confidence index slips again to below the pre-pandemic record. (via CNN)

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has reported that the Consumer Confidence Index has hit another new record low of 46.0 in April. The Covid-19 global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and consumer confidence has fallen frequently to the lowest points that it has seen since 1998.

The president of the UTTC believes that consumers generally don’t feel like there has been much of a recovery for the economy since the global pandemic began and without a stimulating event to motivate economic growth, the index is expected to continue to fall further. The university estimated that if the third wave of Covid-19 continues past the end of May the economy can expect to lose 400 to 600 billion baht.

The UTTC president stressed that the government should hasten to step up relief measures and make sure they continue relief and economic stimulus throughout the pandemic to avoid economic catastrophe. He predicted that the economy and the Consumer Confidence Index will continue on a downward slope without any hope of improvement until the vaccine rollout gets well underway towards herd immunity, and new Covid-19 infections are decreased dramatically.

Today saw another 2,101 new Covid-19 infections and 17 deaths in Thailand. Vaccination efforts are continually being stepped up, but still remain woefully slow.

The Consumer Confidence Index first started falling last year, with a drop below the previous record low in 1998 in April of 2020, when it fell to 47.2. A few months later, by July of last year, it had recovered significantly, climbing back over 50. But by March of this year, the index had fallen again to 48.5. With April’s tumble of 2.5 points, the Consumer Confidence Index pushes once again to a new record low.

SOURCE: Thai Business News

 

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Thailand

Thailand searches for cow vaccine for lumpy skin disease

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: An example of a cow with Lumpy Skin Disease. (via newindianexpress)

Move over Covid-19 there’s a new disease sweeping the country as Thailand’s cow population is afflicted with a lumpy skin disease. The Department of Livestock Development is now working on procuring vaccines from overseas manufacturers to import and treat the cattle population in Thailand. The lumpy skin is caused by pustules that are the most visible symptom, perhaps more detectable than other bovine signs such as drooling, loss of appetite and drowsiness.

The cow disease is spreading in the North, Northeast, and Central Plains area of Thailand and has been found in 18 provinces total. First identified in Roi Et, it has now spread in Chiang Rai, Kalasin, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Pathom, and Nakhon Phanom. The first case of the lumpy skin disease was reported in Don Daeng village last month and on April 9th officials reported it to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The lumpy skin disease is found in cow pens and spread through flies, ticks, and mosquitoes, but the DLD says not to panic, it is not transmissible to humans. The department is distributing important information about symptoms and how the disease spreads to breeders and farmers in the area. They’re requiring the breeders to monitor their cattle closely and have imposed measures to control the disease in heavy hit areas.

To prevent the spread of disease in livestock, traders are being requested to not buy and sell cattle within 50 km from disease-stricken regions. And for farmers caring for cattle, the DLD recommends spraying insecticide in all areas to prevent transmission via insects. Finally, in case the cattle were jealous of traveling humans, the DLD is advising farmers to prevent disease spread by isolating any new cow that comes into their farms with a 28-day bovine quarantine where they should be kept under nets to keep insects away.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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