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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: EC prepares for new election; Red Shirts to rally April 5; Illegal loggers threaten last Siamese rosewood forest

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: EC prepares for new election; Red Shirts to rally April 5; Illegal loggers threaten last Siamese rosewood forest | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

EC starts preparing new general election
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Election Commission (EC) met Monday to prepare for a new general election after the Constitutional Court ruled Friday to annul the February 2 snap poll. The EC hoped to reach a conclusion on how to deal with the new election.

It said earlier it would have to have alternatives before organising the election – whether to meet with the caretaker government for consultation, or to invite all political parties for talks to reach an agreement.

The Court voted six against three to nullify the snap election, compelling the EC to hold a new one. The EC claimed that the caretaker government will have to foot the expenses for the next polls since it refused to heed to the EC’s recommendation to postpone the unready balloting in relation to the Feb 2 date.

Meanwhile, members of the ruling Pheu Thai Party said they would dress in black to attend the party’s meeting tomorrow to show their dissatisfaction with the Constitution Court’s ruling.

The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee announced a Bangkok march from its Lumpini Park rally site to the Royal Plaza on Saturday to emphasise its demand for the appointment of an interim government to lead national reform before a general election is held.

Damages sought over dumpsite
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Lawyers Council will assist villagers affected by the Samut Prakan fire in filing civil and administrative lawsuits to demand compensation from the owner of the dump and five state agencies.

At least 500 households have signed a suit against the Praksa Tambon Administration Organisation president, Samut Prakan governor, provincial industry office, provincial natural and environment office, and the Pollution Control Department for neglecting to control the dumpsite and allowing it to operate without a permit.

They will also sue the owner for at least Bt100,000 in damages per person for mental distress and physical injury from the toxic smog generated by the smouldering fire.

Suwit Cheyubon, chairman of the council’s environmental division, said his legal team would collect more documents and evidence to lodge a class action lawsuit on behalf of residents this week.

Some 1,900 households have submitted complaints to the Department of Special Investigation.

According to the Public Health Ministry, about 1,200 people living near the dump fire have been treated at hospitals for “pink eyes” and sore throats.

A child aged one year and eight months has recovered from a lung infection and been discharged from hospital.

Dr Namphon Danpipat, deputy provincial public health chief, said people living within 200 metres of the fire must be monitored closely for health impacts from the toxic smog. Smoke near the site was measured at 10 micrograms per cubic metre, which was regarded as a safe level.

Police Colonel Pichai Kriangwattanasiri, director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Fire and Rescue Department, said he dispatched 150 firemen, 34 fire engines and two high-pressure water cannon trucks to put out the fire at the garbage dump. It is not known what caused the fire, which broke out on the 150-rai site on March 16. People had to evacuate from nearby homes and seek shelter at the Praksa Tambon shelter.

Firemen have almost put out the blaze and believe the situation will return to normal soon.

Police Colonel Wichit Boonshinwuttikul, superintendent of Bang Pu Police, said he had already asked the dumpsite owner to report for questioning.

Jatuporn calls red-shirt rally on April 5
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Jatuporn Promphan yesterday announced a mass rally of red shirts on April 5 but did not specify the venue.

The red shirts yesterday held a mass rally in South Pattaya, Chon Buri, where they organised a rite to mourn the Constitutional Court ruling on Friday annulling the February 2 election.

Jatuporn called on the red shirts to wear black from tomorrow to Sunday to mourn the behaviour of independent agencies.

People’s Democratic Reform Committee chief Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday night said the PDRC would oppose the upcoming election unless it followed national reform.

Suthep said he would soon mobilise anti-government protesters for another mass rally in Bangkok.

“There will be heavier opposition as we call for immediate national reform,” he said.

“An election only comes after that. So don’t try. It will be a waste of energy and budget as the people are not ready to go voting. They want reform.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Suthep to come together in televised talks to try and find a solution to the political problems.

Speaking at a PDRC event at Lumpini Park in Bangkok yesterday to raise funds for rice farmers, Abhisit said the Democrat Party, which boycotted the February 2 election, would run in the next election if it was organised fairly and “acceptable to all sides”.

“Unless the PM agrees to hold talks, the country cannot move on,” he said, without revealing if he had discussed the matter with Suthep.

The date for a new general election is yet to be set, with the Election Commission to discuss the matter with the government and the other political parties.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit called on the Election Commissioners to resign and pay the Bt3.8 billion cost incurred in staging the February 2 poll.

His deputy, Anusorn Iamsa-ard, reiterated that there had been a conspiracy by the PDRC and some political parties, independent agencies as well as the military and unidentified forces to topple the government.

Democrat spokesman Ongart Klampaiboon labelled the allegation “groundless” and condemned Pheu Thai for making it.

Suthep said Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn had asked him not to obstruct the February 2 election and had made the same request again.

However, Suthep said the PDRC would not accept the talk coming from politicians.

Like Somchai, he said the EC should not have to pay for the failed election. It was the government’s responsibility.

Suthep and PDRC leader Thaworn Senneam yesterday spoke to PDRC guards about democracy.

Thaworn said the PDRC would keep a close eye on the impeachment case against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating her but has yet to decide whether to indict her for alleged negligence in the rice-pledging scheme.

Thaworn said that while holding a new election before national reform was against the stance of the PDRC, it was unclear whether the organisation’s supporters continued to support the same stance.

“Trying to have an election using the same rules will only bring doom to the country,” he said.

“The PDRC leaders will evaluate many factors. Whether we will close the roads [for rallyin

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Pattaya

Pattaya – fighting to survive its Covid crisis

The Thaiger

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Pattaya – fighting to survive its Covid crisis | The Thaiger

Pattaya, like some of Thailand’s other former tourist hotspots, is facing some critical challenges. Hundreds of thousands of workers have left the city because there’s simply no work and up to 50% of the city’s shops are closed, some never to re-open. The Thaiger filmed most of this video on a long weekend at the end of October, the busiest Pattaya had been in 7 months.

Please LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the Thaiger YouTube channel…

As Thailand struggles along without the benefit of its usual tourist traffic, four key former tourist magnets are facing particular hardships. Phuket, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai… and Pattaya. Whilst there are patches of business activity, just about everything connected directly with the city’s tourism business are perilously quiet, particularly on weekdays. That means the employees, the business owners, their families, the landlords and their bank are all suffering as the chain of woes reaches deep into Pattaya’s broader community.

Despite the Thai government’s attempts to deny the true reason for Pattaya’s popularity over the past 6 years, including the annual walk-through the city’s red light hot spots and declaring there was no crime or prostitution, the sleazier side of Pattaya has continued to grow, with a growing number of proprietors trying to glean an income out of a slowly declining western patronage. Things were changing and business was getting tighter long before the Covid-19 and Thailand’s border closures.

n 2016, Thailand’s first female Minister of Tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, announced that Thailand was “closed to the sex trade”. Walking Street was to be gentrified and some of the red lights moved back from the foreshore to establish new bar and bar girl districts.

Several NGO reports have published the number of prostitutes in Pattaya were between 27,000 up to 30,000, depending on the report you read. The plight for these sex workers, post Covid, is bleak. As their work wasn’t officially recognised they weren’t able to access any of the government’s unemployment stimulus payments and weren’t protected under any of the country’s labour laws. Luckily for some of them, their employees worked hard to help them through the crisis. One of those is manager Timmy who works for the Night Wish Group.At their peak they ran up to 29 bars in Pattaya. Many of those have closed. At the moment they have about 13 open, as of the end of October.

For now Pattaya’s red lights have dimmed somewhat although it’s hardly all closed up. Some of the bars have also pivoted to an online model, with mixed results, where the bar girls, and bar boys, are able to ‘chat’ to online customers, viewers can buy them drinks and business continues as usual. Some bars have even stayed closed and are going 100% online with their digital bars. One proprietor told The Thaiger the online bar scene had become very lucrative but was unsure how long the novelty would last.

Apart from the steep decline in total tourist traffic, there’s been a big change in the mix, now mostly domestic tourists. Many businesses are switching up their business models to suit. Many just closed down, seemingly waiting it out to see what happens.

With much of the city’s old workforce abandoning Pattaya and heading home, there are still pockets of local life where communities have banded together to help each other through, whilst waiting for some sort of normality to return. For the tourist areas, mostly closer to the beaches, businesslike is patchy indeed.

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Tourism

Pattaya springs back to life over the long weekend, more to come

The Thaiger

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Pattaya springs back to life over the long weekend, more to come | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Pattaya News

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 expats, locals and tourists joining in the foreshore festival, talent shows, music concerts and local food. Central Festival, in the middle of the Beach Road, hosted a range of activities and shows.

Several proprietors with businesses in the city’s red light areas also told The Thaiger that it was the busiest they’d seen areas like Walking Street and Soi 6 since the tourist tap slowed to a dribble after the borders were closed down in late March.

The city, along with the rest of Thailand, might have a few more good weeks ahead with the Loy Krathong and Halloween celebrations. The Central Festival Bikini Beach Run is also being held next week. Around the corner the Fireworks Festival on November 27 and 28, a seafood festival, and not too far away, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Speaking to a number of participants in the foreshore festival on Friday evening, some people said they’d come down from Bangkok to escape the threat of disruptions from the ongoing government protests. Chad said he needed a Bangkok Break…

“Just had to escape for the weekend and get out of the city. All anyone is talking about now is the protests and I needed a bit of Pattaya pampering.”

Another expat, working in the tourism sector, (who didn’t want to be named) noted that Pattaya’s famous (or infamous) nightlife had sprung back to life.

“It didn’t take long for the bargirls to flood back and the shutters open on the bars again. Most of the faces I’m seeing are Thai. I figure it may be the first visit to Pattaya for many of them. Let’s hope they keep coming.”

“Very happy to see the events and festivals are coming back to Pattaya. We will see more in the last 2 months of the year,” said Sawas Dee.

Beyond the foreshore area there was still much of the city still closed up and hotels were offering excellent rates through the usual OTAs. Pattaya is still in a struggle to keep its businesses open but at least the last 3 days have given a much-need boost to city life.

The Thaiger has a full story about Pattaya’s struggles on our YouTube channel tomorrow.

Watch a quick video from Sawas Dee here…

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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