Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Health Ministry ramps up War on Dengue; Amnesty bill held to ransom; 2 slain in South; Monks moved


Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

New strategy adopted to fight dengue: spray areas promptly
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Public Health Ministry has ramped up its fight against dengue fever and now requires hospitals to report to the area disease control department within three hours every time a dengue-fever patient is admitted.

Under a new protocol dubbed “3-3-1”, mosquito larvae in the infected area would then be destroyed and an investigation team would then move in. It would be given one day to bring the virus in the area under control, Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong announced yesterday.

Pradit’s deputy, Sopon Mekthon, said that 45 per cent of mosquito larvae was found on school premises, while 29 per cent had been reported at hospitals. The two locations were the most common for mosquito larvae and should therefore be targeted in each province for mosquito nests, Sopon said.

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Mosquito larvae needs to be killed every seven days in order to keep control of the disease.

Deputy permanent secretary for Public Health, Sopon Mekthon, said it was a good sign that the number of dengue-fever patients appeared to be dropping. From July 9 to 16, up to 6,000 dengue fever cases had been reported, compared to some 8,000 patients the week before.

The provinces with the highest incidence of dengue were: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Songkhla, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phetchabun, Si Sa Ket, Roi Et and Nakhon Phanom.

People who experience a high fever that does not return to normal within two days should see a doctor, he said.

Phuket this year is experiencing its highest number of dengue-infected patients for more than two decades (story here), making it the number one province in the country for dengue (story here).

2 killed in South despite ceasefire
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The deadly insurgency continued in the deep South yesterday with a couple gunned down in broad daylight in Narathiwat’s Rangae district and a defence volunteer seriously wounded in Pattani’s Sai Buri district.

The attacks took place despite the promise of a separatist group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), to abstain from violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatha-butr, chief of the Thai team in the peace dialogue with the BRN, said he would report them to the Malaysian side, which acts as the facilitator of the rapprochement talks with BRN.

Paradorn also referred to a complaint filed by the BRN to Malaysian facilitator Ahmad Zamzamin bin Hashim. The BRN accused the Thai side of breaching the Ramadan ceasefire agreement. “I already sent a letter to Ahmad explaining and denying the allegations,” Paradorn added.

Pheu Thai, reds play down ‘people’s bill’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Pheu Thai Party and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD, or red shirts) will fully back an amnesty bill proposed by party MP Worachai Hema which was forwarded in April as the first bill on Parliament’s agenda when the House reconvenes on August 1.

However, the government has other significant bills that it must pass – the fiscal-2014 budget bill and the Bt2-trillion loan bill. And these two are expected to be debated by the House before the amnesty bill.

Some Pheu Thai MPs tried to push the amnesty bill to the top of the agenda, to help the red shirts and their leaders detained on criminal charges related to political conflicts from the coup in 2006 to the political rallies in 2010. This includes former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has long wanted to return home a free man.

A major sponsor of the amnesty bill, Worachai said earlier that the draft law should be put forward for deliberation on August 7, but many party seniors wanted the Budget Bill to be heard first.

However, the move to push for speedy passage of Worachai’s bill met with a small hiccup.

Payao Akahad, mother of Kamolked, or “Nurse Kate” – a paramedic killed during the crackdown – and Punsak Srithep, father of 17-year-old Samapun, who was killed in crossfire, last week submitted a different proposal. Known as the people’s amnesty bill, it was presented to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra via her deputy Phongthep Thepkanjana.

UDD core leaders like Thida Thawornset have reservations about the people’s amnesty bill, as they believe supporting this would delay the passing of an amnesty by at least a year. That would mean they cannot help get a speedy release of red shirts and others jailed as a result of the 2010 riots.

Thida was sceptical about “the people’s bill”. While it clearly states that the military would not be granted a pardon, writers of the bill seemed to be biased against the red shirts and those accused of setting the country on fire, she said. “We want all those in jail to be released since they have been jailed more than three years now. Some of them were pressed with trumped-up charges or were duped to sign their names.’

For Korkaew Pikulthong, who wears two hats as a Pheu Thai MP and a UDD leader, said he backed Worachai’s version, as it would help bring about national reconciliation. He said the UDD leaders had earlier proposed an emergency decree for amnesty but the government feared an anti-government group may bring them to court if they took that route.

Some red-shirt leaders have said the government’s refusal to issue an emergency decree to pass an amnesty shows it has been insincere about wanting to help get those in jail released. Other “independent” red-shirt groups such as one led by Suda Rangkupan, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer, supported Worachai’s version, saying the government should not waste more time. “We have 30 political victims jailed and two have died. We must quickly get them out,’ she said.

Chart Thai Pattana party-list MP Thanonsorn Lertritsirikul said his party would toe the line on what the ruling party thinks is best.

While other junior coalition parties have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, the Opposition Democrat Party has voiced its support for the people’s amnesty bill, proposed by relatives of the victims of the 2010 crackdown, provided the government withdraws all other amnesty bills proposed to the Parliament.

It is unlikely that the people’s amnesty bill will cause a delay in Worachai’s amnesty bill, said a Chart Thai Pattana Party leader, who asked not to be named. He believed that the Yingluck government would expedite the legislative process to pass the bill.

The government may try to appease the victims of the violence by incorporating the people’s bill into the Worachai bill.

“Pheu Thai and red shirts are united about what they want so they may just tell people who proposed the people’s amnesty bill that they will take their version into consideration. However, the bill can be altered during deliberation,’ the politician said.


— Phuket Gazette Editors

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