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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Interpol fugitives nabbed in Bangkok; Police seize weapons in South; Thai billionaires hit 11; B20bn for rice farmers next week

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Interpol fugitives nabbed in Bangkok; Police seize weapons in South; Thai billionaires hit 11; B20bn for rice farmers next week | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Police seize several caches of weapons in raids
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Nakhon Si Thammarat police announced yesterday that they had seized 177 guns, 1,440 bullets and two M26 grenades from 179 suspects in raids and checkpoints from February 17-28.
A self-proclaimed anti-government protest guard, Issararat Khumpairan, 36, who was arrested in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Thung Song district on February 17, claimed that he got a shotgun, two bullets and one M26 grenade from Bangkok.

Another case involved Chatree Naksripong, 36, who allegedly worked as a debt collector for a drug ring that was led by a prisoner from behind the bars at Nakhon Si Thammarat Prison. The suspect, who had previously served seven years for attempted murder, was nabbed with an M3 machine-gun loaded with 57 bullets.

Bt20 billion ready for rice farmers next week
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Farmers who hold pledging receipts issued under the government’s rice-pledging scheme last November are expected to be paid next week, in a breakthrough that could ease one of the Yingluck Shinawatra-led government’s most serious political problems, at least in the short term.

The Election Commission’s board yesterday approved a request by the caretaker government to use an additional Bt20 billion from the national budget to pay the farmers, who are still waiting for payments that were due in November.

The government must return the funds to the budget by May 31.

Caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong yesterday clarified to the EC the reasons the government needs the Bt20 billion for the rice-pledging scheme.

After the meeting with Kittiratt, EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn posted on his Facebook page that the funds would be considered an advance payment, which would be repaid in full by the Foreign Trade Department to the Finance Ministry by May 31.

The funds to cover the repayment would come from the department’s sale of rice from the state’s stockpile.

In his Facebook post, Somchai said the EC approved the use of central-budget funds for six reasons.

First, the EC has the power to approve the additional budget, which was requested as an urgent case.

Second, Somchai said, the Bt20 billion is considered borrowing – not expenditure – and the government will have to return all of it after earning money from the sale of rice.

Third, the Public Debt Management Office has assured the EC that the amount will be returned in May, and that the use of the funds will not affect the nation’s reserves set aside for emergency cases.

Fourth, the Foreign Trade Department assured the EC that it could earn Bt8 billion a month from rice sales, totalling Bt24 billion over three months.

Fifth, the due date for the return of the funds, May 31, is expected to be within the time frame of the current caretaker government, so the move is unlikely to place any obligations on the next government.

Sixth, the Bt20 billion will be paid to farmers who received pledging receipts in November, before the dissolution of the House of Representatives. Therefore, the payment to the farmers cannot be seen as a move to gain an advantage in the ongoing election.

Somsak Chotrattanasiri, budget director of the Budget Bureau, said yesterday that the Bt20 billion should reach farmers next week via the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.

“Using Bt20 billion as an advance payment should not create any problems, as there is still almost Bt70 billion left in the nation’s central budget,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Trade Department reported that caretaker Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan had approved the sale of 600,000 tonnes of rice in separate auctions to 11 private companies who took part in bidding, earning a total of Bt20 billion.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said the money from the central budget should reach the farmers over the next week. When combined with money earned from rice sales – which he said should amount to Bt10 billion a month – there should be sufficient funds to pay farmers waiting for payments from December as well.

EC seeks charter court ruling on new poll for no-candidate constituencies
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The five Election Commission members have jointly petitioned the Constitutional Court to rule on the problems related to the 28 constituencies where there is no MP candidate, EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said Tuesday.

The three questions the EC asked the Constitutional Court to rule on included whether the commission could go ahead and announce the opening of candidacy registration, and designate a new election date in the 28 constituencies.

The second question was that if the EC has no mandate to issue such announcements, whether it would need issuance of a royal decree to amend the previous decree for dissolution of the House of Representatives, which is the mandate and responsibility of the prime minister.

The third question was whether, in case a new royal decree needs to be issued, the election decree for the 28 constituencies in particular is allowed, or whether the royal decree must only designate new elections nationwide, as the Constitution requires an election to be on the same day nationwide, Puchong said.

He said the EC would respect the Constitutional Court’s ruling on these questions.

Eleven Thais make Forbes’ billionaires list
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Eleven Thais are on Forbes’ 2014 billionaires list, led by Charoen Pokphand Group’s Dhanin Chearavanont.
Ranked 97th among 1,645 people around the globe whose net worth this month exceeds US$1 billion, Dhanin is the richest Thai with net worth of $11.4 billion (Bt370 billion). Last year, he was ranked 58th with net worth of $14.3 billion – which was the highest level since 2009 when he first joined the ranking.

Also on the list are Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Vanich Chaiyawan, Krit Ratanarak, Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth and Keeree Kanjanapas. The magazine also put Thaksin Shinawatra and family on the list, with net worth of $1.6 billion. It said that “ousted in a 2006 coup, Thaksin managed to recover close to $1 billion of his $2.3 billion in frozen assets”.

The rest are Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Surin Upatkoon and Thongma Vijitpongpun. Aloke Lohia, chief of Indorama Ventures, was the last on the list with net worth of $1.1 billion.

Globally, Bill Gates is back on top after a four-year hiatus, reclaiming the title of world’s richest person from telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico. Gates saw his fortune rise by $9 billion in the past year to $76 billion.

Forbes found 1,645 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion a year ago. Among them, 268 were new 10-figure fortunes, including 42 new female billionaires, another record. In total, there are 172

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Video & Podcasts

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

The Thaiger

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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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