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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
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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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Survey – Thais not taking sides and 66% prioritise health care

The Thaiger

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Survey – Thais not taking sides and 66% prioritise health care | The Thaiger

The majority of respondents to a Super Poll survey, say that they are still waiting to see where they will put their future support. For now they’re saying they neither support the Government or Opposition, preferring to wait to assess their performance.

Super Poll conducted the survey on 1,069 people from a wide range of occupations nationwide between October 1519.

The director of Super Poll, Noppadol Kannikar, says that one interesting finding was that 67.2% of respondents admitted that they prefer not to take sides, with the Government or Opposition, because both are currently under-performing and they want to wait to assess their performance.

But 16.9% of the respondents are supportive of the coalition Government, compared to 15.9% who oppose it.

On the question of Government spending, the survey showed 65.9% want quality health care as their top priority, 59.8% want good and secure jobs, 54.3% want security for their lives and property, 50.8% want increased road safety, 48.2% want government help for small and medium-size enterprises and 37.0% want government to provide them with housing.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thai Life

Top 10 English news sources in Thailand (2019)

The Thaiger

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Top 10 English news sources in Thailand (2019) | The Thaiger

…in English, in no particular order.

This post is mainly for newbies, tourists and people-interested-in-Thailand. Locals already have their home favorite news sources. But all these Top 10 do it well, in their own way. All are trying to navigate their way through the labyrinth of modern media, some better than others, whilst punching out daily news. We think they’re all stars because doing media in Thailand, in English, is a tough gig.

These are all news and information sources and the list doesn’t include the myriad of excellent blogs around – a topic for another Top 10.

1. Bangkok Post

Traditional news, still delivered as a daily newspaper, but with an expansive and thorough website. It’s been going since 1946 and reported on a coup or two, or three. As far as making the move into digital media is concerned, Bangkok Post is doing it better than most. Editorially it has has taken a, mostly, neutral political stance with a few exceptions. But, as newspapers go, it walks down the middle fairly reliably. It is currently the leading English language news portal in Thailand and deserves its position on top.

2. The Thaiger

Please indulge us as we put our own website and news in the Top 10. The Thaiger, only running as a national website since April 2018, remains the fastest growing English-speaking online-only news and information site in the Kingdom (according to the ‘stats’).

The Thaiger curates the news and chooses topics it believes will be interesting, important or newsworthy, in English, Thai and now Vietnamese too. The Thaiger bought out the Phuket Gazette’s digital assets in August 2017 but now has a national and regional focus, whilst continuing to pay homage to its home turf in Phuket. Currently has the second highest readership of any English-speaking news website in Thailand.

3. The Nation

The Nation was the other major daily coming out of Bangkok, well for 48 years anyway, was a lot newer than Bangkok Post when it started up in 1971. The Nation took a more partisan line, famously turning its editorial voice against PM Thaksin Shinawatra. In latter years the paper struggled with circulation and was taken over by Sontiyan Chuenruetainaidhama, founder of conservative outlets T News and INN News. Falling circulation and advertising revenues eventual killed off the printed daily version. Final issue June 28, 2019. The Nation changed their domain name (suicidal) and continues as an online-only news source with an excellent coverage of local Thai politics.

4. ThaiVisa

Used to be the biggest and most popular news website in Thailand (in English). If it moves or breathes, you’d find the story on ThaiVisa. It’s full of news copied and pasted from partners who agree to share their news on the site. It’s also famous, or infamous, for its hugely popular forums where keyboard warriors dispense their opinions and wisdom on everything, usually tearing just about everything in Thailand to shreds. Whilst it was once the biggest English-speaking news website in Thailand for a decade it is now being challenged by new sources moving into the same web space. Plenty of info, a lot out of date, about visas and other snippets about living in Thailand.

5. Khaosod English

Fresh, selective, well-written and a rising star in real Thai english-language journalism. An offshoot of it’s much bigger Thai-language sister. To the point, original stories with a modern journalistic spark. They tend to choose their stories and provide excellent insight when they do. Original and deserving of your daily read.

6. Coconuts

Most would agree that when Coconuts started it was the best and cheekiest news blog for its time. Actually covering all of South East Asia, it’s Bangkok blog was a daily log-on for most hip expats. Now they’ve taken the brave ‘paywall’ option (because people want to pay for good journalism they say) which seems to have killed off some of their web traffic but the company says they will persist with the subscription model. In our opinion it’s lost a bit of its verve but it’s still a healthy and reliable daily read for Thailand and the region. Singapore it its most popular location, Thailand is third.

7. Thailand News

A shameless aggregator, they copy and paste headlines and a few paragraphs with a link to the original story. Designed to rank in Google, the site is still in its early days. To avoid any copyright issues, the stories usually include a photo library ‘look-a-like’, instead of the real photo from the story. For all we know the entire site could be run by cleverly-coded robots.

There is no sign of a human touch anywhere. Rather than a contributor to the world of Thai journalism, the site is just a parasite using everyone else’s news. Bottomline, it’s nicely set up and has, well, most of the stories around Thailand, all in one neat package.

8. Chiang Rai Times

Chiang Rai Time is a local website that is regularly updated, nicely laid out, aggregates most of the main international stories and has plenty of local news relevant to the residents of northern cities of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. You may notice a similarity with The Thaiger as they used the same WordPress theme – we’ll take it as a compliment. There’s also Chiang Mai City Life which is a bit less ‘newsie’ and has plenty of northern lifestyle info in addition to the local news.

9. The Pattaya News

Whilst the rest of Thailand does things one way, Pattaya does things differently, in every aspect, including its media. But The Pattaya News does a better job than most with daily content, some original, and translating stories from Thai media. Easy to navigate, clear and readable, unlike a lot of others!

10. Thai PBS World

A government news agency but has demonstrated its independence over the years. As a website it’s had more face-lifts than Joan Rivers but remains solid, reliable and surprisingly (especially as it’s run by a quasi-military government) unbiased. Also tends to cover stories the other news sources don’t.

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