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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Gambling on a roll; B343bn budget passed; Tarit questioned over Yingluck photo

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Gambling on a roll; B343bn budget passed; Tarit questioned over Yingluck photo | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Study reveals truth behind Thailand’s gambling addiction
Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The “underground lottery” remains the most popular form of gambling in Thailand with an estimated capital of Bt100 billion per year, while the government lottery follows with a capital of Bt76.77 billion, a study by Chulalongkorn University’s Social Research Institute revealed yesterday.

The study on gambling in Thailand was carried out by Dr Pinij Larpthananon, a researcher at the institute, along with his associates. It was conducted on 5,042 respondents aged over 15, from 16 provinces.

Responses indicated that most people (64.2 per cent) had gambled in the past year and over 63 per cent used to gamble when they were under the age of 24. The youngest “gambler” was a seven-year-old.

Based on the results of respondents, the study also calculated the different types of gambling practised as a percentage number of Thailand’s population. The underground lottery came top with an estimated 19,923,643 gamblers, followed by the government lottery with 19,211,727 gamblers.

Ranked third, was illegal gambling dens with an estimated 3,125,705 gamblers, followed by football betting with 1,067,418 gamblers. In fifth was gambling on local sports with approximately 883,592 gamblers, the study said.

Phongsathon Chantharassami, manager of the Information Centre for Gambling Control Policy, under the Sodsri-Saridwongsa Foundation, said law enforcement was the key to tackling illegal gambling in the country. Citing a Royal Thai Police report that said police had made 3,988 gambling-related arrests in the first half of this year, Phongsathon said it demonstrated that the current law on gambling was out-of-date and ineffective in tackling the problem.

As for the gambling act draft legislation, which was approved by the Cabinet in principle in October 2011 and would soon be submitted to the Council of State consideration, Phongsathon expressed concern that it didn’t accurately cover the modern world of gambling. One example, he said, was the fact that it made no reference to the growing problem of gambling among children and young people.

Bt343 billion budget sails through the House
Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Bt343-billion central budget for 2014 sailed through the House despite the opposition’s attack on the government’s inefficient spending last year.

During the deliberation, Democrat MP Watchara Pechthong pointed out that the government had used Bt600 million in all to curb anti-government rallies – Bt200 million to control the Pitak Siam protest last year and Bt400 million to deal with the rallies against the amnesty bill.

In addition, he said, Bt2 billion of the national budget has been spent to compensate and rehabilitate the red-shirt protesters who took part in the 2010 political turmoil, while Bt10 billion was earmarked for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s trips overseas.

In defence, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the PM’s trips were not for pleasure but to promote Thai businesses and tourism, which would contribute a lot more compared to the cost of the trips.

However, Democrat Bangkok MP Vilas Chanpitaksa presented different numbers. Citing a document from the PM’s Office, he called into question the Bt340-million budget approved for police and military operations to provide security during the Pitak Siam rally in November last year.

The police were granted Bt335 million, the Army Bt600,000, the Navy and Air Force Bt48,000 each, and the Internal Security Operations Command Bt3.5 million, the MP said.

“I really have doubts about the sixth item, which is Bt200 million compensation that the Royal Thai Police transferred for a ‘secret mission’ to conduct intelligence work. I wonder if it was really for making money [illicitly], as the allowances, accommodation and wage costs comprised Bt139 million altogether,” he said.

“However, transferring a secret budget cannot be done unless it is identified in the annual budget bill. The government and people involved were smart. Before they asked for approval from the Cabinet on November 20, 2012, the Cabinet had already approved it in principle, saying the protesters were likely to surround Government House, Parliament, besiege the premier and so on, and instigate a situation,” Vilas said.

The central budget, which is not allocated to particular agencies, is part of the total annual budget. The meeting on Wednesday night voted 287:107 in support of cutting Bt31.9 billion from the total Bt2.525-trillion annual budget.

PM’s Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn said all spending from the government’s central budget in cases of emergency and for other necessities such as the prime minister’s official trips required the approval not only of the prime minister, but of the Cabinet as a whole.

The Cabinet did not always grant such spending requests, he added.

Varathep said spending on Yingluck’s trips abroad was necessary – especially for trips made at other countries’ invitation – as this is her first term and she had to strengthen international relations. Spending was always done according to the regulations, the minister said.

The biggest portion of travel costs went towards airfares. For 2011 and 2012, the budget for airfares was set at Bt61 million, and Bt80 million for 2013, he said, adding that Bt55 million had been earmarked for next year.

Meanwhile, Varathep said there had been no budget allocation for Yingluck’s proposed political reform council.

The House voted 291:126 to pass Article 4 of the 2014 Budget Bill on the allocation of the central budget, following the vetting committee’s proposal that it be brought down to Bt343 billion from Bt345 billion.

Tarit slammed on stance over bogus pic
Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Democrat Party yesterday cast doubt on the judgement of Tarit Pengdith, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation, for agreeing to look into the allegedly doctored picture of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that was posted on the Internet by a Democrat spokeswoman.

Democrat MPs including their leader Abhisit Vejjajiva questioned how this situation meets the qualifications for a case to be taken up by the DSI.

On Wednesday, Winyat Chartmontree, a lawyer for the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship, petitioned the DSI to probe Democrat spokeswoman Mallika Boonmeetrakul for posting the altered picture of Yingluck taken with a sign of Kui Buri National Park.

Tarit said he immediately ordered that the complaint be accepted as a special case, which takes priority over other inquiries.

“I am not taking the side of politicians or serving politicians [in power]. But a prime minister is the head of the country. I have to do this, as the message is a Thai expression. It is a statement understandable as to what it means. Besides, the complainant clearly asked [us] to probe all people involved. So the DSI will investigate [everyone] from Mallika to the people who shared the picture,” Tarit said on Wednesday.

According to the law, it is the special case committee, not only the DSI director-general, that decides whether a suspected crime warrants the DSI’s

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1

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Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1 | The Thaiger

Daily Thai news on The Thaiger. All the latest information about Thailand, Monday to Friday on Thaiger News Today.

Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. The claim comes from the Tourism Council of Thailand president. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine becomes available. At this stage there are still many questions about a successful vaccine either becoming available or the efficacy of such a vaccine even when it is. Then there are questions about whether getting a vaccine will become a condition of travel to Thailand or internationally. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country. “It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

Changing face of Thailand’s expats

Thailand’s dominant working expat nationality in past decades has been Japanese, currently making up 18% of expatriates in the country. But that dominance is about to be overtaken. While Japanese expatriate numbers are decreasing, a CBRE report notes that Chinese and Filipino expats are on the rise in Thailand. There were 28,560 Japanese expats in Thailand as of Q3 2020, just ahead of the Chinese expat contingent at 25,811. As China’s manufacturing has shifted overseas and Filipino expatriates have increased in line with local demand for teachers fluent in English, there’s been a continuing de-centralisation of the expat communities living in Thailand. You can read more about that report, and the effects on the Thai property market at thethaiger.com

More reports of alleged student abuse, parents file complaint against teacher

More reports of teachers allegedly abusing their students have come to light after a Nonthaburi teacher was caught on video pushing a kindergarten student to the floor, pulling a student across the floor and repeatedly hitting other students. Now more classroom videos of teachers allegedly abusing their students are being widely shared online as well as photos of children’s marks and injuries from the alleged abuse. Meanwhile, the main Thonburi school, at the centre of the current allegations, has agreed to pay compensation, including refunding school fees, paying medical costs, and better screening and scrutiny of teaching staff.

Contestant eliminated from Miss Universe Thailand after manager infiltrates organising committee

One of the favourites to take the Miss Universe Thailand title when the contest is held on Saturday, October 10, has just been kicked out for breaking the rules. Chayathanus Saradat, also known as “Cheraim”, is accused of allowing her manager and chaperone to infiltrate the organising committee. It’s understood he manager, aka “Ken”, attended numerous committee meetings, potentially getting the inside scoop on what questions contestants might be asked, and giving his client an advantage. Thailand still has a fascination for the ‘beauty contestant’ format and there are hundreds of such contests conducted around the country each year.

Police confiscate 300 kilos of marijuana in central Thailand drugs bust

A drugs bust in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, has netted 300 kilos of marijuana, valued at around 2 million baht. Anti-narcotics officers confiscated the haul yesterday when they apprehended 3 men in a department store car park. Thai Residents reports that dried marijuana usually fetches around 6,500 baht per kilo on the black market. It’s understood this consignment was on its way to a Bangkok-based dealer when it was intercepted.

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Tourism

Travel agents push to end quarantine for tourists from countries at low risk for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth

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Travel agents push to end quarantine for tourists from countries at low risk for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Qui Hotel

Travel agents are pushing to end the 14 day quarantine required for foreign tourists arriving from countries classified as a very low risk for spreading Covid-19, hoping the government will agree with the idea and start in December. The move could bring in at least 100,000 tourists per month, according to president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, or ATTA, Vichit Prakobkoson.

The thought of 2 weeks in isolation before enjoying a vacation turns away a lot of potential tourists. Vichit says the idea of quarantine “repulses” them. But some tourists are still onboard with travelling to Thailand, even if that means spending 14 days in quarantine.

Around 120 to 150 tourists on the new Special Tourist Visa are set to arrive next week from China to Phuket after a 6 month ban on international tourists. The tourists are required to quarantine for 14 days at a state approved facility. The new visa allows a 90 stay and can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months.

Vichit says new measure won’t be enough to revive Thailand’s crippled tourism industry which took a hit when the country halted international travel to control the spread of the coronavirus. 1,200 foreign tourists are expected to arrive each month under the new Special Tourist Visa, but Vichit says the number of monthly tourists could increase to 100,000 each month if the quarantine is waived for people from countries consider low risk.

“The government should challenge and revoke the state quarantine, if possible, by this December for certain countries. If so, approximately 100,000 foreigners a month would travel to Thailand and might stay for 5 to 7 days.”

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Opening borders could cause a second Covid-19 outbreak, epidemiologist says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Opening borders could cause a second Covid-19 outbreak, epidemiologist says | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Post

Opening Thailand’s borders to foreign tourists may open a “Pandora’s box” of Covid-19 infections, according to leading epidemiologist on the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine Thira Woratanarat. After a 6 month ban on international tourists, the first group of travellers on the new Special Tourist Visa are set to fly from China to Phuket on October 8. Thira says the move puts the country at risk of a second coronavirus outbreak.

“If the country decides to take risks, everyone must rely on themselves because this is a war between virus and humans and people need to survive… The country will be a new endemic area if the government cannot contain the spread of the disease effectively. And even if there is a Covid-19 vaccine, it might be too late.”

The 120 to 150 tourists arriving next week on the Special Tourist Visa are required to quarantine at a state approved facility for 14 days. They are also required to be tested for Covid-19 before their flight and before being released from quarantine.

Thira has been vocal for months on his disapproval for opening the borders to foreign tourists and has stood firmly against proposals like so called “travel bubbles.” He says the coronavirus cases across globe have continued to raise and warns that people in Thailand should still abide by coronavirus prevention measures like wearing a mask.

“Many countries are still under the severe pandemic and have an infection rate 20 times that of Thailand’s, so Thailand will be at a risk of becoming a pandemic hotspot after the country is reopened.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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