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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 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

Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

Thaiger

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

Thaiger

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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