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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Emergency decree a last resort; Tanks out for Kid’s Day; Rice farmers on edge; Panda alert

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

Emergency decree would be a last resort: Yingluck
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that invoking an emergency decree would be the last option in dealing with the current protests.

Yingluck, who is also caretaker defence minister, expressed concern over a call by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to shut down Bangkok next Monday.

She said the plan to cut power and water supply at state agencies would worsen the situation and cause trouble for residents in the capital, in addition to reducing confidence in the country’s political system and economy.

“That will be the last option. We will try to avoid using it,” Yingluck said, adding that the Internal Security Act would still be in effect.

Yingluck visited Suvarnabhumi International Airport yesterday to provide moral support to security officials. Some 12 companies of police and two companies of troops were deployed to ensure security at the airport.

While Yingluck was making the inspection, police applauded and shouted “PM, fight on”, prompting her eyes to brim with tears.

The troops applauded only when instructed to do so by a police spokesman over the public address system.

There have been suggestions for Yingluck to impose an emergency decree to deal with the “Bangkok shutdown”, according to a Pheu Thai Party source.

With a state of emergency in effect, the military would have to take charge and oversee operations to deal with the protesters. But key military figures have allegedly opposed the move and said would prefer to play a back-up role to the police.

The source, who is a key Pheu Thai figure, said certain military leaders appeared sympathetic with the anti-government PDRC.

“Now is the right time to test the Army’s willingness” to help the government deal with the situation, the source said.

“If the Army does not comply with the government’s request for it to be involved, the prime minister has the right to remove the military leaders.” But PM Yingluck has not responded to that idea.

The source said leaders of the military had promised to persuade PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban to end the protest if she dissolved the House of Representatives. But when the PM did so, they failed to persuade Suthep because he was backed by a powerful figure that once created trouble for the Thaksin government.

Shutdown illegal, dangerous

Meanwhile, caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri yesterday warned against joining the Bangkok shutdown protest, claiming it was illegal and dangerous.

Chaikasem said PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban was facing a sedition charge, which carried a maximum penalty of death. So if people chose to support Suthep by joining the shutdown protest, they would also be regarded as committing a wrongdoing, Chaikasem said.

He cautioned that protesters could also be injured in clashes with the PDRC’s opponents. The minister said people who joined the simultaneous rallies on Monday would violate Articles 116 and 215 of the Criminal Code for unlawfully assembling to cause turmoil in the capital.

“Those who already know but still join the protest will be deemed as engineering or supporting sedition,” Chaikasem said on TV.

“The government would like to tell the people to use their judgement and be aware that if they join in the Bangkok Shutdown, they will be breaking the law and cause damage to the country.

“Besides, there is a risk that they will be hurt as there might be clashes with those who have different opinions and groups of people with malicious intent.”

In a related development, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is due to decide today whether to pursue a case against Yingluck and 382 other parliamentarians accused of violating the Constitution, for voting in support of a bill to amend the Constitution to try to change the composition of the Senate.

Even if the NACC resolved to pursue a case against her, the PM would not need to stand down as caretaker prime minister, a legal expert claimed. The case was filed against her as an MP, a position she no longer holds after the House was dissolved in early December.

Meanwhile, a close friend of Thaksin who served in the Yingluck government, suggested that Yingluck step down before the shutdown on January 13. “In a war when you can’t make an advance, the commander has to order a retreat. Yingluck should leave her post and announce that she will not return to power,” said the source, who was Thaksin’s former classmate from the Armed Forces Preparatory School.

Candidates petition court after failing to register
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Pheu Thai party-list MP candidate Pichit Chuenban filed a petition at the Supreme Administrative Court yesterday(Mon) to issue a temporary injunction to “protect” 29 Pheu Thai candidates in eight southern provinces who were unable to register as candidates in the February 2 poll.

Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit blamed election commissioners in the South for failing to change the venues for candidate registration in response to blockades by anti-government protesters. This “failure” resulted in some candidates being unable to lodge applications to run in the election.

He noted that local Election Commission (EC) officials did not change to other registration venues that were safer, and that Pheu Thai was obliged to seek court intervention for its candidates’ applications to be endorsed.

There were also representatives from the Chart Pattana and Plod Nei parties, who petitioned the court and blamed the EC for not enabling candidates to register in the stated districts by not having officials at the registration site. They claimed this amounted to negligence of duty on the part of the EC. The court accepted the petition and was considering the case as of press time yesterday.

The Election Commission in Bangkok suggested yesterday that candidates who were unable to register in the South due to obstruction by anti-government protesters should petition the Supreme Court.

The EC also held a training course for accountants working for political parties in hope of reducing legal cases related to accountancy claims by half.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said affected candidates should proceed to the Supreme Court and petition the court, adding that he believed the court would give them justice. No candidates were able to register in 28 districts in eight provinces in the South.

Puchong reiterated that the EC was impartial and did not favour any political party while carrying out its duty under the law.

The commission explained its regulations to 158 accountants from 38 political parties at Muang Thong Thani in a bid to reduce legal cases related to political parties’ accounting matters. There have been 800 legal cases involving accountancy problems over previous years and these have cost the EC much time and money. So the agency wants to try to cut the number of cases by 50 per cent in the next election.

In the long term, the EC is also considering opening a school on accountancy for political parties, Puchong said. The EC secretary-general acknowledged that the rules and details of accountancy for political parties were complex and hard to understand, so there was a need

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Bangkok

Protest leader tests positive for Covid-19 a week after being released from jail

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

A pro-democracy movement leader has tested positive for Covid-19 after she spent 8 weeks in jail awaiting a trial on lese majeste charges which prohibit statements that insult or defame the Thai Monarchy. 2 other protest leaders facing similar charges have tested positive for Covid-19 while in court detention.

After being released from the Central Women’s Correctional Institution on May 6, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul spent most of her time at home. She went to a drive-through Covid-19 testing venue on May 10. She went by the Bangkok Remand Prison the next day for the release of 2 other protest leaders, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan. Rung has now been admitted to the Thammasat University Hospital in Pathum Thani for treatment.

Rung says had been denied an earlier Covid-19 test because she did not have some of the symptoms of the virus.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,983 new infections and 34 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล (Public Health Minister)

The daily Covid-19 death toll hit a record high today with 34 deaths reported. 1,983 new Covid-19 infections were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported 88,907 Covid-19 infections and 486 coronavirus-related deaths.

There are now 29,378 active Covid-19 cases in Thailand. Active cases peaked at just over 30,000 infections last week and have been on a very slight downward slope. The number of patients with severe symptoms has slightly increased to 1,200 with 401 of them on ventilators.

Around 75% of the new Covid-19 infections are in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. While the infection rate remains high in the capital, several provinces have reported no Covid-19 infections and many provinces report under 10 infections.

Most of the new Covid-related fatalities reported today are patients with underlying conditions of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. 12 of the 34 patients who died had contracted Covid-19 from family members, a trend in the deaths of patients. The elderly and those with chronic illnesses are at the highest risk of a severe Covid-19 infection.

A CCSA spokesperson notes that migrant workers are entitled to treatment under social welfare programs regardless of their legal status in Thailand.

“Legal or not, they will be treated. Legal status is not an issue at all. The priority is to get them treated and recovered as soon as possible.”

To combat the spread of Covid-19 in Bangkok, the CCSA is expediting the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in high-risk areas like Bangkok’s Khlong Toey slum. Since the nationwide vaccination campaign was launched in late February, 1.89 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered. Only 530,000 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Provinces with the highest number of new Covid-19 cases…

Province New cases Total since April 1
Bangkok 976 21,405
Nonthaburi 266 4,035
Samut Prakan 110 3,420
Chon Buri 57 3,489
Surat Thani 53 1,256
Ayutthaya 38 743
Samut Sakhon 36 1,627
Chanthaburi 32 562
Pathum Thani 29 1,477
Pattani 28 240
Covid UPDATE: 1,983 new infections and 34 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Daily Covid-related deaths in Thailand as of 11 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

Covid UPDATE: 1,983 new infections and 34 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 11 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

 

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Thailand

More than 15,000 foreigners arrested since January for illegal border crossings

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Kanchanaburi News

Thousands of foreign nationals have been arrested this year for illegally crossing land borders into Thailand. Due to fears that those entering Thailand illegally and evading the mandatory 14-day quarantine could possibly lead to the spread of Covid-19, particularly more contagious variants of the virus, Thai authorities say they will take tough legal action on illegal migrants and labour traffickers.

From January 1 to May 9, a total of 15,378 people have been arrested for illegally crossing land borders into Thailand. Out of the people arrested, 6,072 were from Myanmar, 5,114 were from Cambodia and 882 were from Laos.

The Thai Immigration Bureau is working with border patrol officers to tighten security along Thailand’s borders, the bureau’s chief Sompong Chingduang told the Bangkok Post.

“Those who enter Thailand illegally will be prosecuted under the immigration law, the communicable diseases and the emergency decree.”

In Thailand’s last wave of Covid-19 infections in December and January, fingers pointed at illegal Burmese migrants as the epicentre of infections were concentrated at a fishing hub in Samut Sakhon, affecting a large migrant worker population.

With the recent wave of infections peaking drastically higher than the past outbreaks in Thailand and said to be linked to the more contagious variant of the virus first found in the UK, health officials are now tightening security and control measures along the borders to prevent more cases.

Border security is also being increased to prevent the emergence of the variant of the virus first detected in India. The director of the Health Science Centre of Emerging Diseases at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of medicine made a post on Facebook saying he was concerned the variant could be imported into Thailand and cause another wave of infections.

“In the next few months, the variant found in India may slip across the border into Thailand from Myanmar. Business operators are now importing illegal migrants again… If the border is left unchecked like this and no tough measures are imposed in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, brace yourselves for a fourth wave. The current third wave will pale by comparison.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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