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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Kratom not legal yet; Flood-aid food lands 51 in hospital; Minister stands firm amid Thaksin Cabinet reshuffle rumors

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Kratom not legal yet; Flood-aid food lands 51 in hospital; Minister stands firm amid Thaksin Cabinet reshuffle rumors | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Kratom not legal yet, but closer
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong confirmed yesterday that the narcotics control committee under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has still not reached a decision on whether to remove “kratom” (Mitragyna speciosa) from the prohibited narcotics list.

It could take another two months for the sub-panel, assigned to gather information on the tropical evergreen, to reach its conclusions, he said.

Used for various medicinal purposes, the leaves of the kratom tree are psychoactive when chewed, producing an uplifting mood.

Pradit said the Justice Ministry had consulted the Public Health Ministry on whether kratom could be removed from the illicit drugs list on the grounds that it could be used as a medicine in aiding the recovery of yaba addicts, as well as acting as a substitute for yaba – thus reducing the number of yaba addicts.

Legalisation of kratom would also reduce the number of people being detained for kratom possession, as well as being wrongly charged with possession. The sub-panel, said Pradit, would have to study these factors before a decision could be made.

He said the ministry, in its role as an academic body, would focus on the medical properties of kratom in relation to health, rather than issues surrounding its legal use. However, Pradit stated there were similar substances with the same medical properties as kratom, thus there was no real need to use it.

FDA chief Boonchai Somboonsuk said ministerial agencies were gathering academic information as instructed by Pradit.

If all could agree that kratom should not be classed as an illegal drug, they would inform the committee.

Boonchai said there had already been two attempts to de-list kratom, one in 2004 and the other in 2009, but the committee had refused to change kratom’s status as an illegal drug. It would be a good time to review those cases, he said, because there had been many changes and developments since the last case.

Considerations this time would be based on the Justice Ministry’s reasoning, and on internationally accepted protocol.

Flood-aid food lands 51 in hospital
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: At least 51 flood victims in Prachin Buri have ended up in hospital after consuming food handed over as aid yesterday.

Of them, five were in a bad state and still being treated at hospital as of press time.

“The victims either began vomiting or got diarrhea after eating the food that was handed out to them at a flood-relief centre in tambon Ban Hoi,” Prachin Buri public-health chief Dr Nopporn Pongpleumpitichai said.

The flood-relief centre in Prachantakham district’s tambon Ban Hoi was set up after strong currents of water broke down an earthen ridge in nearby Kabin Buri district and inundated the area.

Chachoengsao Governor Anukul Tangkananukulchai said the water current from Prachin Buri was so strong that many areas in his province were also flooded. Floods in Chachoengsao’s Phanom Sarakham district are already a metre high.

According to Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department Chatchai Phromlert, flooding has now hit 24 provinces.

Since September 17, floods have ravaged more than 2.16 million rai of farmland and upset the lives of more than 2.87 million people. Over the same period, the flood-related death toll has risen to 27.

Floods have also damaged 4,947 roads, 201 bridges and 518 levees over the past few weeks.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed provincial governors to survey affected properties and farmland, and to deliver assistance to victims. She is also insisting that all infrastructure damage be fixed immediately after the floods subside.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, meanwhile, assured residents that city officials were prepared to deal with floods, reckoning that some parts of the capital might end up getting flooded in the event of non-stop downpours.

“Slow down for safety when you drive on flooded roads,” he advised.

Meanwhile, the Pasak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri, which just 150 kilometres from Bangkok, is close to brimming over. It is currently about 96 per cent full and the Royal Irrigation Department has started releasing about 600 cubic metres of water per second from the dam.

People living along the Pasak River in Saraburi and Ayutthaya have been warned to closely monitor its water levels.

“The water will rise,” the department warned.

Natural Resources Minister stands firm amid Thaksin Cabinet reshuffle rumors
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Natural Resources and Environment Minister Vichet Kasem-thongsri has expressed confidence he will not be removed from his position over claims that his wife forgot to declare company shareholdings, but ruling party sources have said he is among the ministers in danger of losing their jobs in an imminent reshuffle.

Pheu Thai Party sources said many party MPs have been to see the party’s de facto leader, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, in Hong Kong and Macau. They claim he told the MPs and prospective candidates to visit local voters and prepare for an early election. He also reportedly said there would be a Cabinet reshuffle this month to open opportunities for fresh applicants.

Along with Vichet, Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan, his deputy Pracha Prasobdee and Deputy Public Health Minister Sorawong Thienthong are expected to be removed.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit denied reports of a Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, however, while PM Yingluck Shinawatra also refused to answer reporters’ questions on the issue.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) previously reported that Vichet’s wife, as well as Sorawong and his wife, had failed to declare stockholdings of more than 5 per cent in private firms when declaring their assets.

According to the law, ministers and their spouses are required to declare all their assets, otherwise the minister could be disqualified.

Vichet insisted that he complied with the legal requirement to report all of his assets to the NACC.

Since the NACC does not have the authority to rule over Vichet’s qualifications as a minister, it has forwarded the case to the Election Commission for interpretation. After that his qualifications will be judged by the Constitutional Court.

“On the legal procedures, it would be better to consult Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana, who has responsibility for overseeing the government’s legal affairs,” Vichet said.

“To date, there has been no sign from the Pheu Thai party as to whether I will be removed. However, I have been constantly thinking about the day I will leave this ministerial position, from the first day I worked at the ministry,” he said.

Vichet has held the position of natural resources and environment minister since July. He has vowed to launch a renewed battle against those who encroach on forest reserves and has also ordered senior officials to review forest-protection laws.

The minister, who formerly chaired PTT’s board of directors, has also instructed his officials to monitor forested areas using satellite imagery every three mo

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Protests

Protesters suing Thai PM, police and officials over State of Emergency in October

The Thaiger

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Protesters suing Thai PM, police and officials over State of Emergency in October | The Thaiger

Protesters and human rights lawyers are officially suing the Thai PM, a deputy PM and other members of the government and police for 3.5 million baht in damages. The lawsuits cover the declaration of a state of emergency that was imposed for a week during October following a major protest where a royal motorcade drove into the path of a protest near the Democracy Monument in Bangkok.

Police claim that protesters “blocked” the path of the royal motorcade, but video of the incident shows the protesters were gesturing at the yellowRolls Royce and yelling at the occupants as it passed by, without obstruction. Her Majesty the Queen and the King’s youngest son were in the vehicle at the time.

There are seven complainants, each demanding 500,000 baht in compensation.

The State of Emergency was announced for Bangkok on October 15, at 4am in the morning following the protest.

Representatives of the Human Rights Lawyers Association filed the lawsuit with the Civil Court yesterday. It lawsuit also targeted the Prime Minister’s Office, national police officials and the Royal Thai Police Office.

Nuengruethai Kijakansuparoek, of the lawyers’ association, claims the declaration violated rights to freedom of politics, transport and expression of opinion. The Association also warns that there are more lawsuits on the way.

“The closure of electric train service was ordered, some demonstrators were arrested and some people were affected by tear gas, and people were unable to voice their political opinions.”

yesterday some 5,000 gathered at the Lad Phrao intersection in an “anti coup picnic” to enjoy food, including Isaan dishes, with protest leaders speaking and musicians keeping the crowd entertained. Protest organisers said it was “a rehearsal protest against coups”.

Protesters handed the “flock” of yellow inflatable ducks over the heads, of the crowd “to represent the military passing over the people” to by-pass democratic rule and be the defacto government of Thailand. An inflatable Santa also made his way into the festivities for no apparent reason (well, Christmas is approaching).

Yesterdays rally was just 2 days after another gathering outside the Siam Commercial Bank HQ, where HM the King is the largest single shareholder in Thailand’s oldest bank, founded in 1907.

Today’s rally will start at the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre, south of central Bangkok, and march to Bang Na intersection. Then tomorrow protesters plan to hold another rally in front of the . Imperial World Samrong shopping centre.

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Protests

“Bad Students” protest group urges pupils to ditch their uniforms

Maya Taylor

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“Bad Students” protest group urges pupils to ditch their uniforms | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikiwand

School students are being urged to ditch their uniforms and wear their own clothes from the start of the new term next week. The “Bad Students” protest group has posted an appeal on Twitter, calling on students to wear what they want.

“Finally, we can discard the obsolete uniforms and have the freedom to wear personal clothes. To all students, throw away those uniforms on December 1, and dress the way you prefer to go to school – #saygoodbyetouniforms.”

According to a Bangkok Post report, the call has also been taken up by fellow activists in the north-eastern province of Khon Kaen. The Pakee Students KKC group took to Facebook to urge students to ditch their uniforms.

“We would like to invite all students to wear your preferred outfits to school. This is meant to question whether school uniforms are that important. Will teachers not allow us to attend class just because we don’t wear uniforms? Why go to school if the principals and teachers are more interested in uniforms than schooling? If students cannot afford to buy uniforms, does this mean having no rights to attend class? Let’s try and see if wearing outfits of our choice can reduce inequality. If there are 10 students wearing their preferred clothes, they may be punished. But if all students at a school do so, just imagine the changes this will bring.”

Since anti-government protests began in mid-July, students have been railing against the Education Ministry, as well as the wider administration of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. Amid claims of bullying, sexual harassment, and physical abuse in schools around the country, students have slammed Education Minister, Nataphol Teepsuwan, for his refusal to reform the system.

Meanwhile, Amporn Pinasa from the Office of Basic Education Commission says students refusing to wear their uniforms are in breach of school regulations. She adds that rules are there for a reason and that not everyone in society gets what they want. She points out that, rather than creating disparity, uniforms are more likely to foster a sense of equality among students.

“Wearing school uniforms will not have any direct impact on learning but it has its merits. Actually, wearing uniforms does help reduce inequality. If students wear their preferred personal clothes, it will lead to some students wanting to get the same expensive clothes as their more affluent friends, even though their parents are not as well off.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Health Ministry teams up with Agoda to offer quarantine hotel packages

Maya Taylor

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Health Ministry teams up with Agoda to offer quarantine hotel packages | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Anyone planning a visit or a return to Thailand can now book their quarantine stay through Agoda, following a deal between the Public Health Ministry and the hotel booking platform. Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutecha announced the agreement yesterday, at a launch event at the Mövenpick Hotel BDMS Wellness Resort in Bangkok, in the company of Tares Krassanairawiwong from the Department of Health Service Support, and Agoda CEO, John Brown.

Agoda was founded in Phuket, Thailand in 1998 but now has its head offices in Singapore.

Sathit says 37 hotels offering alternative state quarantine and alternative local state quarantine have already joined the first phase of the scheme. And, with the possibility of the quarantine period being reduced from 14 days to 10 for some arrivals, he’s urging more properties to sign up.

“Thailand has a better track record in virus containment, but as long as other countries are still facing the spread of the virus, preventive measures, including quarantine under the ministry’s supervision, remain necessary and that means more ASQ facilities as well.”

The Agoda booking platform allows people coming to Thailand to choose and book their quarantine package and is available in 39 languages with around-the-clock support. Brown has thanked the Health Ministry for the initiative, saying it will prove helpful for those planning to visit or return to the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Tares says Thailand’s 113 ASQ-approved hotels are expected to attract around 30,000 tourists and generate over 1 billion baht for the economy.

Booking.com now also has some ASQ hotels in its inventory.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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