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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Flood scheme talks turn fracas; Pheu Thai vows tit for tat; Typhoon donation scamsters caught

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Flood scheme talks turn fracas; Pheu Thai vows tit for tat; Typhoon donation scamsters caught | The Thaiger

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

Tensions boil over at flood scheme hearing
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A melee occurred at a public hearing yesterday in Samut Songkhram on the effects of the government’s Bt350-billion flood-prevention and water-management programme, after a large number of protesting residents angrily pressured government officials in charge of the scheme.

This prompted a premature end to the event, before local vocational students attempted to prevent the officials from leaving the venue.

More than 10,000 residents in the province’s Mae Klong area, where floodway structures under the programme would replace their homes and vast areas of farmland, attended the session to oppose the project.

Officials from the Water and Flood Management Commission had, however, expected only 800 to attend, with most of them allegedly having been prepared, for Bt800, to show their approval for the construction of the floodway structures.

The Mae Klong area, as the main sea outlet accommodating major rivers east of Bangkok flowing southward, is a key location for the structures, which are part of the flood-prevention and water-management scheme on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Commission member Apichart Anukularmphai explained the importance of the Mae Klong area, and especially the difference between general floodway structures in other areas and a special structure called a flood-diversion channel, which he said would use less space and entail less land expropriation.

The opposing residents began attacking the floodway projects during a question-and-answer session, saying they would not tolerate the “neck-deep inundation” a so-called new river would bring, after already regularly suffering knee-deep flooding annually.

They also said the entire flood programme was a failure before it had even begun, and the government should not have brought suffering from one area to another – in this case, Mae Klong.

The residents, speaking long after the Q&A session, also accused the commission of bringing in 800 people to the hearing venue – Samut Songkhram Technical College in Muang district – to answer a questionnaire approving the project, in return for Bt800 allegedly promised to each of them.

Questionnaire fails

They said the questionnaire illegally failed to give details on the effects and negative aspects of the floodway structures.

Locals opposed to the structures began making a noise when Apichart and other commission members were unable to answer several questions posed to them.

Samut Songkhram Governor Chonchuen Bunyanusart and Surajit Chirawate, a provincial senator, who brought along 22,434 signatures of the opponents, proposed calling a vote as a final conclusion, which was supported by an overwhelming number of raised hands and led to a premature end to the public hearing and relevant events.

A group of vocational students belonging to the college later formed a human chain to prevent Aphichart and other commission members from leaving the compound, prompting about 50 policemen and 100 civil defence volunteers to escort the commission’s motorcade.

A group of residents attempted to give the list of opponents’ signatures to Apichart, but was stopped by the police from doing so. The confrontation ended when police negotiated with lecturers from the college, who convinced the students to cease their efforts. The motorcade then left the area.

The students later set off ping-pong bombs and lit firecrackers, reportedly out of anger because of the police intervention. There were no immediate details about when the next mandatory public hearing session in the province would be held.

Pheu Thai threatens ‘eye for an eye’ as Democrats head to court
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The opposition Democrat Party will next week file a slew of charges against House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, deputy Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij, secretary-general Suwichag Nakwatcharachai and 308 parliamentarians for pushing through an amendment to the Constitution that has since been ruled unconstitutional and unlawful.

Democrat MPs will also seek the impeachment of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, along with Somsak, Nikom, Suwichag and the 308 lawmakers who voted the blanket-amnesty through on its third reading.

The decisions were announced by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva after he chaired a special meeting of opposition MPs.

The meeting came after the ruling Pheu Thai Party lashed out against the Constitutional Court’s decision that the charter amendment bill for a fully elected Senate was unconstitutional.

After being on the defensive for the past week, the Pheu Thai Party is countering Democrat Party moves with legal action on an “eye for an eye” basis, a high-ranking Pheu Thai source said.

Abhisit said his party condemned Pheu Thai’s defiance of the court’s authority, as it undermined the rule of law.

He called for Yingluck and her party to rethink their attack on the Constitutional Court and take responsibility for their actions.

“Prime Minister Yingluck, who has submitted the proposed amendment to His Majesty for endorsement, should report the court’s ruling to the King,” Abhisit said.

The prime minister yesterday responded to the court’s rejection of the Senate-change bill, saying she needed time to study the verdict before charting her next move.

“What happened was unprecedented, hence I have asked the Council of State and the legal team to study [the implications],” Yingluck said.

She defended her decision to submit the change for royal approval, saying she was constitutionally bound to do so by the deadline.

In response, the opposition called for Yingluck to take responsibility for the hasty royal submission and resign.

The prime minister voiced optimism that the legal wrangle over amending the charter would eventually be resolved. However, she refused to comment on Pheu Thai plans to impeach Constitutional Court judges for striking down the charter amendment.

“I just want all sides to heed the opinions of one another and carefully consider the various options,” she said.

Regarding the National Anti-Corruption Commission inquiry on accountability based on the verdict, she said she hoped the justice dispensed would allow everyone to carry on with his or her work.

Commenting on litigation looming over the Bt2-trillion mega-project loan bill, she said she had yet to receive the relevant legislation from Parliament.

Prominent red-shirt political appointee Sangiam Samranrat yesterday filed a police complaint that Constitutional Court judges had offended the monarchy.

Sangiam claimed the judges had violated Article 112 of the Criminal Code in conducting their judicial review of the Senate-change bill during the process to seek royal approval.

Red-shirt lawyer Nuengdin Wimuttinant petitioned the Department of Special Investigation to probe the Constitutional Court judges who ruled against the bill. Nuengdin cited Articles 113 and 112 related to insurrection and lese majeste as the basis for the probe.

Filipino duo caught falsely soliciting donations for typhoon
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
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Road deaths

Thailand road toll: 554 dead this month, 11,462 this year

The Thaiger

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Thailand road toll: 554 dead this month, 11,462 this year | The Thaiger

PHOTO: U-Turn crash in Bangkok – Daily News

Daily news reports fatalities at the scene of accidents yesterday claimed the lives of 21 people. Yesterday was a busy day on Thailand’s roads at the end of a long weekend.

They say the numbers reported are only those that die at the scene. In reality, when hospital deaths and all regions report their stats, the figures end up much higher.

So far this October 554 have died at the scene of accidents resulting in a yearly total nationwide of 11,462. Thailand is recognised by the World Health Organisation as the fifth highest road toll in the world, per capita.

Figures are reported daily by Daily News who highlight the need to be vigilant at U-turns in their story about this air-conditioned bus (above)on Route 29 that collided with the back of a container truck.

Seven passengers on the bus were injured in the accident on Pahonyothin Road near the Kesri 5 housing estate in Klong 1, Klong Luang district north of Bangkok. The truck driver was trying to execute a U-turn at the time.

SOURCE: Daily News | ThaiVisa

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Environment

Thailand’s swift response to the ‘fall armyworm’ pest

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s swift response to the ‘fall armyworm’ pest | The Thaiger

OPINION: Somsak Samanwong – Regional Technical Educator for APAC, Corteva Agriscience. PHOTO: East-East Seed

In Thailand, corn is an indispensable staple crop, used as an important source of feed for a thriving poultry and livestock industry. About 1.04 million hectares of our land is used to produce corn, with this year’s yields estimated at a record high of 5.3 million tonnes.

As Thailand becomes increasingly recognised as a major world food exporter, our reliance on corn is growing to meet consumer demand for meat, both locally and globally – we are currently the third largest chicken exporter in the world. For many of us, it comes as a surprise that this ordinary but versatile crop is intrinsic in fuelling our status as the “kitchen of the world”.

A small but powerful threat

However, this established position and the very growth of our food economy is currently under siege from the rise of fall armyworm, a pest so damaging that it can destroy corn crops overnight. The fall armyworm is an insect native to the Americas, where it has caused significant damage for decades. With a zealous appetite for corn, the pest quickly began to ravage crops in the Africa region following its arrival in 2016, causing losses of $13.3 billion.

Fall armyworm started moving closer to home, spreading across Yemen, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, before reaching Thailand in December 2018. Since then, around 50 corn-growing provinces have been infested, particularly in the west of Thailand.

Fall armyworm infestations can result in yield losses for corn of up to 50%, which can have devastating implications – for those whose livelihoods rely on their crops, but also for the poultry and other meat production industries whose success and expansion heavily depend on their produce.

What makes fall armyworm so challenging to control is its high reproductive capacity and long migration distances. The pest has been known to migrate up to 1500 km3, slightly more than the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, covering up to 100 km per night. Couple this ability to travel with rapid reproduction – four generations of fall armyworm can be observed in a single corn crop – and you have a devastating mix.

Recognising the tremendous impact of fall armyworm on the nation’s farmers and our food security, the Thai authorities and key stakeholders across the agriculture industry have come together, uniting efforts to equip our farmers with the tools they need to help manage the spread of fall armyworm. By applying our learnings with fall armyworm in response to future threats, we can help to ensure our farmers are empowered and our nation’s food supplies – for Thailand and for the rest of the world – are protected.

Taking swift and decisive action

Thailand’s Department of Agriculture responded to the first FAO warning of fall armyworm in India by setting up a surveillance program to monitor corn growing states along the shared border with Myanmar. During this time, informative materials about fall armyworm and the ongoing surveillance program were shared with relevant agencies, universities, and most importantly, corn farmers.

Establishing communication between the authorities and those on the ground was and remains an important focus, and a telephone hotline and Line account were set up so that farmers are able to report potential infestations. As a previously unseen pest in Thailand, setting up infrastructure to monitor crops in the recognition of fall armyworm was pivotal to aiding a quick response.

Thailand’s swift response to the 'fall armyworm' pest | News by The Thaiger

Imparting knowledge through educational efforts

Knowledge-sharing between the authorities, academic experts, farmers and industry is crucial in the fight against threats like fall armyworm. In November 2018, an educational programme for Thailand’s authorities developed with the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) by CropLife Asia helped to provide senior agricultural and food industry leaders with in-depth information about fall armyworm and its habits.

By sharing knowledge of the pest between the government and affected industries, accurate and up-to-date information could spread across the country almost as quickly as fall armyworm itself.

Farmers remain at the heart of agriculture, and thus, in-field education is of paramount importance to safeguard crops.

Through a series of training programmes and the provision of educational materials, farmers were educated on and empowered to adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, as recommended by the World Trade Organisation on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, to control and prevent the spread of fall armyworm. IPM combines pre-emptive treatments, scouting, monitoring and targeted treatments to protect the health of corn crops from seed to plant, and, in turn, to protect Thailand’s food security.

Equipping farmers with the necessary tools

In adopting an IPM approach against fall armyworm, it is our role as agriscience experts to ensure farmers have access to safe, effective and greener solutions to control its physical spread. And, through the development of innovative technologies, solutions are available to provide farmers with long-lasting control of fall armyworm, whilst being environmentally safe to use.

Amparar®, Corteva Agriscience’s foliar spray, contains the active ingredient Spinetoram and has been recommended for use in corn in Thailand to help protect corn crops against fall armyworm. It controls the insects in two ways – through ingestion and contact by the pest, providing a quick knock-down for lasting control. Amparar® has been awarded the prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for its positive environmental profile and margin of safety towards beneficial insects. It is recommended by the Thai authorities as the top crop protection product for managing fall armyworm.

Our fight against fall armyworm has brought to light the invaluable role of corn in the development of Thailand as global provider of food. Perhaps even more importantly, it has helped to demonstrate how much can be achieved when public and private sectors work together in response to those that threaten our food security. We must continue to activate and engage all stakeholders – from farmers, governments, industry and academia – to ensure that, whatever the next threat to our “kitchen of the world”, we remain poised for action to protect it.

Thailand’s swift response to the 'fall armyworm' pest | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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