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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Govt considers extending Internal Security Act enforcement; Kids addicted to computer games; Dealer donates ya bah to ease suffering

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Govt considers extending Internal Security Act enforcement; Kids addicted to computer games; Dealer donates ya bah to ease suffering | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Students who opposed retreat to Lumpini Park draw further support
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A splinter group of the People’s Army against the Thaksin Regime has drawn so much growing support from the public that the government is now considering whether to extend the Internal Security Act enforcement.

The splinter group is the Students and People’s Network for Thailand Reform. It has been organizing its rally at the Urupong Intersection since Thursday night when the People’s Army agreed to move its protesters back to the Lumpini Park.

After the People’s Army gave in to the ISA enforcement and retreated, some protesters became angry that their leaders broke a promise not to disperse from the front of Government House. So, the sprinter group staged a rally at the intersection, which is next to but outside areas affected by the Security Act.

On the first day of the rally, the demonstrators numbered only a few hundred and were led by student activists of Ramkamhaeng University.

But that night small fire bombs and bags containing poison ivy were hurled at the protesters from the expressway, which put a media spotlight on the group. And more people started to join the rally, partly because the group has separated from the People’s Army, which the public does not support.

Many people are unsure if the People’s Army has an ulterior political motive. And because the Students and People’s Network for Thailand Reform has a better image, more and more people have joined the rally.

The network is being closely monitored by officials. Speculation that the group may move its rally prompted police to invoke the ISA and close 14 roads around Government House.

Security agencies have assessed the situation and believe that leaders of the Urupong rally are student activists from the San Saeng Thong Party.

Former student activists have also gone to the site to provide advice on how to organize the rally. They included lawyer Nitithorn Lamluan, a coordinator of the Green Politics Group.

The group has attacked the government over the cost of living and falling crop prices. Their rally has also been joined by members of the middle-class and some supporters of political groups. Peace-keeping spokesman Police Maj General Piya Uthayo said yesterday the number of demonstrators at Urupong peaked at 1,100 on Sunday night.

A Government House security source said the Urupong group was one of two splinter groups from the People’s Army. The source said after the People’s Army agreed to disperse from Government House on Thursday, the group broke up into three. The first group of the People’s Army retreated to Lumpini Park. It has about 150 to 200 demonstrators.

The second group is the Students and People’s Network for Thailand Reform, led by Uthai Yodmanee, president of the Ramkhamhaeng Students Organisation. They are supported by Nitithorn, a leader of the yellow-shirt movement. The Democrat Party has used its Blue Sky satellite station as a mouthpiece for the Urupong group.

Students from some vocational schools joined the Urupong rally on the weekend and after school. Some office workers also joined the rally after office hours, and some demonstrators at Lumpini Park also went to the Urupong rally at night, so the number of people was over 1,000 at its peak. But most dispersed after 10pm.

The source said a third group was led by Thaikorn Polsuwan. It has only about 30 followers. Thaikorn’s group has been camping at Sanam Luang.

“Intelligence agencies have not found any indication that the three groups will reunite outside Government House and there is no sign that any of the three groups will draw more supporters. But the situation is uncertain – whether the three groups have really broken up, or whether they have just divided responsibilities… [so] police decided to close roads to prevent them from besieging the Government House.”

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Over 2.7m children addicted to computer games
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: More than 2.7 million children in the country are addicted to computer games, according to the latest estimate based on a nationwide survey.

Conducted during the second quarter of this year, the survey covered 20,000 children and suggests that as many as 15 per cent of children are addicted to gaming. There are about 18 million children in Thailand’s population according to official statistics.

“Children with serious gaming addictions are aggressive and show a tendency towards violence. Some have even been found to physically hurt their parents, or attempt suicide when barred from playing games,” Assoc Prof Chanvit Pornnoppadol said yesterday at an event to launch the “Thai Children and IT” project.

Chanvit, who works for the Department of Psychiatry, the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, said that some gaming addicts also skipped classes and stayed awake late into the night to play games.

“They refuse to join school activities, become emotionally unstable, and show poorer academic performance,” he said.

Children who developed serious forms of gaming addiction needed to undergo treatment, said Chanvit, adding that between 30 and 40 children seek treatment each year.

“However, I believe the number of children needing treatment is much higher than this,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Sura Techatat, adviser to the culture minister, acknowledged that IT technology also had its negative side.

“We have to watch out for problems that may occur with our children and try to find solutions,” he said.

The Culture Ministry’s permanent secretary Preecha Gunteeya said the ministry was seeking to provide children with safer access to computer technology.

“We are also trying to boost their access to safe and constructive media sources,” he said.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Well-meaning drug dealer in custody after attempting to donate ya bah
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A drug dealer was arrested yesterday after attempting to donate 11 ya bah pills at a centre collecting donations for flood victims in Chon Buri’s Sattahip district.

The man reportedly urged workers at th

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

“Protests could affect the economy” – Bank of Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth

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“Protests could affect the economy” – Bank of Thailand | The Thaiger

The ongoing political protests could have a negative impact on Thailand’s already crippled economy by weakening domestic consumption and tourism even more, according to the Bank of Thailand. The bank’s newly appointed governor Settaput Suthiwart-Narueput, who started this month, says they need to keep a close watch on the situation.

“Basically, the political factor is one of the uncertainties… It could affect the economy, particularly consumer confidence and tourism. The central bank has been monitoring the situation closely especially how all the parties concerned handle the protests.”

The halt of foreign tourist arrivals over the past 7 months have heavily impacted the economy. Thailand lost 1.6 trillion baht, or 10% of the GDP. Around 40 million foreign tourists visited Thailand last year while this year is only expected to have a total of 6.7 million. The bank’s governor says it’s going to take some time for the economy to recover.

“It will take at least 2 years for the economy to return to pre-pandemic levels… From now on, the economy is likely to see a continuous contraction on a quarterly basis. It is expected to begin to show a positive growth rate in the second rate in the second quarter of 2021 and be back to normal growth in the third quarter of 2022.”

President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Chairat Tirrattanajarasporn also says the continuing pro-democracy protests could negatively impact the tourism industry and is urging government officials to engage in dialogue with the protesters. He also says that people tend to save their money during protest movements rather than spending it on trips.

Those interested in travelling to Thailand on the Special Tourist Visa are not concerned with the political climate and ongoing protests, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

“It is too early to assess the impact on tourism as mass gatherings have occurred recently and there has been no violence.”

While monitoring the protests and the potential effect they have on the economy, the governor says the Bank of Thailand will also tackle the debt crisis. Debt relief measures, put in place by the bank to aid businesses battered by the pandemic, are lifting this month. The bank is now working on debt solutions.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Former Pheu Thai chair to challenge legality of emergency decree

Maya Taylor

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Former Pheu Thai chair to challenge legality of emergency decree | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Thai politician and former chair of the Pheu Thai Party, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, has confirmed she plans to challenge the legality of the emergency decree in court. She joins a number of opposition MPs and other activists who are petitioning to have the decree lifted. Bangkok awoke to a state of emergency declared by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha in the early hours of last Thursday, amid growing political unrest.

Posting on her Facebook page, Sudarat points to the PM himself, who she describes as, “the source of the problem”. She says the current political protests are a result of him using a military coup to take control from the people, and then drafting a charter that supported the transfer of power to Thailand’s military.

“Other politicians and I have followed the situation with concern and tried to prevent the government from applying their power. We had a discussion yesterday and agreed that we should use the right in the court to protect the protesters.”

Two MPs from the Pheu Thai Party have also expressed their intention to sue the PM for having invoked the emergency decree. Cholnan Srikaew and Jirayu Houngsub are calling on the Civil Court to rescind the state of emergency and guarantee the protection of anti-government activists.

Nation Thailand reports that former judge, Kasem Suphasit, and former Democrat MP, Watchara Petchthong, have also confirmed they are taking legal action against the PM, claiming the implementation of the emergency decree is unlawful.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

Letter calling for Thai PM’s resignation signed by over 1,000 academics

Maya Taylor

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Letter calling for Thai PM’s resignation signed by over 1,000 academics | The Thaiger
Anusorn Unno, anthropology lecturer at Thammasat Universit. PHOTO: www.db.sac.or.th

A petition calling for the resignation of Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, has been signed by up to 1,118 academics and delivered to Government House. The petition was created by the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights. Nation Thailand reports that a group of university lecturers and students have marched to Government House to deliver the letter. They include Anusorn Unno, anthropology lecturer at Thammasat University, and Thamrongsak Petchlertanan, a lecturer in Political Science at Rangsit University.

In the letter, academics slam the government’s clampdown on an October 16 rally in Bangkok, when police used water cannons, allegedly laced with blue-dyed chemical irritants, to disperse protesters at the Pathumwan intersection.

Anusorn claims the action injured several people and only served to ignite further anger at the government. He is calling on the administration to refrain from violence when dealing with protesters, to stop the gagging of government critics, put an end to laws that infringe on freedom of speech, and to cede to the protesters’ demands.

Those demands are outlined in a 10-point manifesto and include the PM’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament, and a call for fresh elections. The manifesto appeared at a protest in early August and has since provided a consistent ‘script’ for the protest movement. Protesters are also calling for a re-write of the 2017 Thai Charter (Constitution) and for reforms to the role of the Thai Monarchy.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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