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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
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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

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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Protests

MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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