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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Krabi coal plant fight heats up; Senate election nears; Issara assures innocence

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Fights at hearings over Krabi coal plant
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Villagers in the southern province of Krabi have come out in strong opposition to a coal-fired power plant and coal seaport, saying the planned project would cause pollution and damage eco-tourism industries which generate billions in baht for local people each year.

Other villagers, however, support the project and fights have broken out at public forums held in Krabi to collect opinions and concerns from local people toward the projects.

Initiated by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), the projects are aimed at supplying power of some 870 megawatts to the southern region.

In a bid to get approval from the state agency, EGAT is required to conduct an Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) and a public hearing before going ahead with the plans.

At the beginning of the forum, EGAT explained the construction plans and impact expected from the projects.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s media campaigner Somrudee Panasudtha, who observed the forum, said a fight broke out during the meeting between those who opposed and those who supported the project.

She said most villagers expressed concern over pollution that could be caused from the coal activities and the potential damage to precious marine resources and tourism industries which attract thousands of visitors around the world to see coral reefs under the Andaman Sea.

The 870-megawatt coal-fired power plant is planned for Krabi’s Nua Khlong district, while the coal seaport project would be established at Ban Klong Ruo.

According to the Greenpeace report, the Ban Klong Ruo coal seaport project is a new plan by EGAT to find ways of transporting imported coal from Indonesia, Australia and Africa to its coal-fired power plant. The environmental watch agency said that the port would lie in Taling-chan sub-district, Klong Kanan district, which is the part of an area listed as wetlands of international importance.

Throughout the year, including the monsoon season, the unloading of coal from larger ships to smaller ones would take place at sea around Koh Lanta. The coal will be unloaded again at Ban Klong Ruo coal seaport to an 8.4 kilometre-long conveyer belt to deliver coal to the power plant.

Greenpeace feared this activity would pose severe damage to Krabi, causing impacts on coral reefs, sea grass, mangroves and nursing gro-unds for agnatic species and plants.

EC expects no drama for Senate poll
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Election Commissioner Prawit Rattanapian expects a problem-free Senate election on March 30 and a voter turnout of at least 70 per cent.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit urged the Election Commission (EC) to organise the follow-up general election on the same day in order to save the country money.

Prompong said that doing so could also prevent protesters’ obstructing the polls because many Senate candidates in the South were relatives of Democrat Party politicians.

Prawit said that although the 457 registered Senate candidates were down 10 per cent on the 2008 Senate election, people still had enough choices in each province while the election preparation was going smoothly.

The 2008 election had a voter turnout of 56 per cent and the 2011 general election 75 per cent.

On March 11, the EC would discuss calls for a fresh general election to be held on March 30, Prawit said, adding that there were sufficient grounds to consider the request but that commissioners held differing opinions on the matter.

I’m innocent, Issara says
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: People’s Democratic Reform Committee leader Issara Somchai insisted he was innocent after Chachoengsao Provincial Court approved an arrest warrant against him for alleged attempted murder and detention of a red shirt who was brutally attacked and thrown into Bang Pakong River.

The court on Friday also approved arrest warrants for five other suspects over the attack on security guard Yuem Nillar, 33, who was thrown in the river with his arms and legs tied.

The arrest warrants were issued after Yuem spoke to police.

He said the five other alleged attackers were PDRC guards who found him carrying a pro-government United front for Democracy against Dictatorship card at a PDRC rally.

He alleged he was detained at the site for five days and taken to the river.

Issara, who faces five charges including assault, depriving of freedom and theft, said he would turn himself in once the PDRC protest ends.

“There is no reason that I had to lead a group of people to kill a person,” he said.

“He is only a red shirt without any prominent role. Had we found him coming to our rally, we could have brought him on our rally stage or driven him out of our rally site.”

He said it was possible he had been implicated because he was well known.

Taxi shot up in Lumpini Park after argument with protest guards: driver
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Several gunshots were fired at a taxi early yesterday morning, resulting in the driver being slightly injured after a bullet fragment grazed his forehead.

Following the shooting report at Bangkok’s Lumpini Park Gate 1 at about 2.45am, police found the orange taxi with all its windows smashed, two tyres flat and bullet holes in a front door.

The driver, Narasak Pulma, 30, waited for police at the scene but his passenger left before police arrived.

The driver was treated at Police General Hospital.

Narasak told police that he took a drunken man from the Rama II area to the park, where the customer wanted to pick up a prostitute.

He said that while the man and the sex worker were negotiating a price, anti-government protest guards shouted out from the park for the taxi to go away, so the passenger shouted abuse at the guards.

A firecracker went off and was followed by several gunshots.

Narasak said he and the passenger then ran from the taxi.

Police planned to check CCTV footage.

Boy, 16, kills parents, then himself
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A 16-year-old boy shot his parents dead before turning a gun on himself yesterday at their home in Thanyaburi in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok.

After a report at 4pm of a triple homicide, police from Pratuman Chulalongkorn precinct rushed to a two-storey house in tambon Prachathipat and found the three bodies, each with a gunshot to the head, in a second floor bedroom.

Bodies of the parents were covered with a blanket on the bed, while the boy’s body was found on the floor with a 9mm pistol in his right hand.

The boy’s 1

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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‘Safe zone’ in Thailand for refugees fleeing Myanmar violence

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Karen Information Centre

Due to the ongoing violence between the Myanmar military and ethnic troops, the Thai military has set up a “safe zone” for thousands of refugees in Mae Hong Son near the Salween River, the natural border between Thailand and Myanmar.

The prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union has openly supported the anti-coup movement in Myanmar, leading to clashes with the military junta. Recently, the Karen National Liberation Army reported took over a military outpost near the Thai border. Those just across the Salween River in Thailand said they could hear the gunshots and explosions.

Defence Ministry spokesperson Kongcheep Tantravanich says shelter and humanitarian assistance are being provided for around 2,200 people who have fled Myanmar.

Kongcheep says the “safe zone” is under tight security and only those authorised can enter. There are strict health and disease control measures are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

His statement comes after the local civil rights group People of Salween River Basin Network called on the Thai government not to push refugees back, claiming that Thai soldiers had been ordered to tell the refugees to return to their home country due to a potential negative impact with border trade.

They say the Myanmar military has been carrying out airstrikes on Karen army bases and many Karen villagers fear for their safety.

Mae Hong Son governor, Sitthichai Jindaluang, also told a United Nations representative last week that refugees have been given shelter and assistance.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

1,630 new Covid-19 cases and 22 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,376 active Covid-19 cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported 85,005 Covid-19 cases and 421 Covid-related deaths.

Out of the 22 deaths, most of the patients had chronic illnesses. Many contracted the virus from family members or close friends.

Most of the new cases were detected in Bangkok, particularly in districts with crowded communities and markets. While cases in Bangkok continue to be high, CCSA spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun says the number of new cases in most other provinces in Thailand is decreasing.

Health officials are rolling out proactive case finding campaigns in several high-risk communities, testing 9,000 to 10,000 per day, Nopakun says, adding that officials are working to provide the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Those who test positive for Covid-19 and are asymptomatic must stay at an official field hospital for 14 days and then self-isolate at home for another 14 days.

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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Thailand donates cash, equipment to Laos to help combat Covid-19 outbreak

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Royal Thai Embassy Vientiane

With Laos, just north of Thailand, under lockdown measures to control a spike of Covid-19 infections, the Royal Thai Embassy to Laos helping the country combat the outbreak and has donated cash and materials valued altogether at more than 16 million baht.

While cases have remained low in Laos since the start of the pandemic last year with active cases typically under 10, there was a spike in cases in mid-April and active cases are now at 1,302. The country reported its first coronavirus-related death yesterday.

Thailand donates cash, equipment to Laos to help combat Covid-19 outbreak | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Laos as of 9 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

Donations from Thailand help supply mobile biosafety labs to conduct swab Covid-19 testing and beds for Covid-19 patients as well as protective equipment such including 50,000 medical masks and more than 2,000 Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, outfits.

An order of supplies valued at 8.5 million baht is set to be delivered by the end of the month. That order will have 2,000 more PPE outfits, Covid-19 test equipment, DNA/RNA extraction kits, and 2,500 test kits. Other equipment provided by Thailand include a defibrillator, patient monitoring machine, infrared thermometers, oxygen regulators, and pulse oximeters.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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