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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Mass closure of schools branded unconstitutional; PM website hacker surrenders; Army grip on nation still strong

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

Closing small schools unconstitutional, say rural teachers
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Rural Teachers Society’s Northeastern branch yesterday condemned the Education Ministry’s move to close down small schools.

“It’s a violation of the 2007 Constitution,” said society vice president Wittaya Panpeng.

He was speaking at a teachers’ forum held by the Federation of Teachers Associations of Thailand.

Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana, however, was undaunted. He has stood by his policy to close some small schools to improve the overall quality of educational services. Usually allocated few resources and few teachers because they have just a handful of students, small schools are often plagued by quality problems.

Wittaya said the government was required by the Constitution to provide Thais equal access to 12 years of free education. “The government has the duty to ensure that education services reach all children,” he said.

He complained that if small schools in rural zones were closed, many more children would leave school.

“I believe some children, especially those in remote areas, will simply stop going to schools if the nearby schools are closed,” he said. Wittaya is the director of a Si Sa Ket-based school.

He said the Education Ministry should find out the wishes of local communities before deciding to close down small schools in their areas.

“So many teachers at small schools disagree with the policy to close down their schools. They are planning to stage a protest at the Education Ministry, bringing along students and parents,” Wittaya said.

Phongthep said his policy did not seek to eliminate all small schools. “We are going to close down just some of them. We will also provide free transportation for local children who have to move to study at another school instead,” he said. “At most, these children will only have to travel some three to five kilometres further.”

He said merging the schools would give children better access to learning materials.

“In areas where there is just one school, we definitely will not close it,” the education minister said.

Hacker agrees to surrender
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The 29-year-old man from Nakhon Si Thammarat who allegedly defaced the PM’s Office website and left derogatory messages on Wednesday has agreed to surrender this morning, a police source said yesterday.

An arrest warrant is being sought for the suspect, said Pol Maj Gen Pisit Pao-in of the Technology Crime Suppression Police.

The man from the southern province had infiltrated TV Channel 3’s website before, officials said.

Hacking is an offence under the Computer Crime Act punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to Bt100,000 or both.

The hacker could also be penalised for posting defamatory messages, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said investigators knew the identity of the hacker and have evidence against him. However, he did not identify the man.

The motive of Chandrakasem Rajabhat University graduate is still unclear, though Chalerm said it it was not necessarily political.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters that the attack might have just been a test of the security of the website and did not have anything to do with her recent speech in Mongolia, in which she described her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, as a political victim.

The hacker left offensive messages alongside a funny image of Yingluck.

The prime minister had her Twitter account broken into in October 2011. A 22-year-old university student from Songkhla, Ekkawit Thongdiworakul, was caught and is being prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act.

Prinya Hom-anek, a cyber-security expert, said the PM’s Office website, like other government websites, was not secure enough and could be broken into even by amateur hackers.

The website of the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the PM’s Office, which also came under attack on Wednesday, has been hacked every year since 2006, he said.

“The government should check all its websites. Those that are not qualified should be closed and improved before they are opened to the public,” he said.

“The fact that Thai government websites are easy hacking targets hurts the country’s security image on the global stage. The weak defences of government websites also draw hackers from outside to use Thailand as a base to launch cyber attacks on other countries. This may put at risk the relationships between Thailand and those countries,” he said.

Prinya is a member of the Thailand Information Security Association and president and CEO of ACIS Profession Centre.

There are plenty of advanced hacking tools and hackers do not need to have much knowledge to use them to breach Thai government websites, he said.

The Unlimited Hacking Team has denied any involvement with the PM’s Office website hacker, who claimed to be part of the group, Prinya said.

“This group consists of Thai and foreign hackers. They said they did not hack the PM’s Office website though they have hacked more than 1,000 government websites,” he said.

Sak Degkhoontho, president of the Electronic Government Agency, said the EGA’s plan to patch up holes in government websites got the Cabinet’s nod two weeks ago but has yet to be implemented.

Civilian control of military long way off, expert says
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Thailand remains among those countries that have failed to institutionalize civilian control over the military, according to an expert on the military’s role in Asia.

Professor Aurel Croissant, co-author of the new book “Democratization and Civilian Control in Asia”, said Thailand ranks fifth in the world in terms of having the most number of military coups – 18 “successful” over the past eight decades.

Comparing Thailand to Pakistan, Croissant, who teaches political science at Heidelberg University in Germany, said the risk of a putsch remains high.

“Thailand is a high-risk coup-prone country,” he said yesterday at a public forum on democratic control of the military, organised by Chulalongkorn University’s Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).

Croissant predicted it would be a long time before Thailand can achieve genuine civilian control over the military. It will depend on not just the military refraining from getting involved in politics but also on strong civilian support and consensus that civilians should have oversight of the military.

“There’s no consensus that they will not pull the military into political conflicts,” said Croissant, who jointly conducted research on the topic over four years in which more than 180 people in the Kingdom were interviewed.

Croissant said the military’s power can be exerted not just through the staging of coups d’etat but also through influence over the government’s decision-making processes. The lack of coups doesn’t automatically mean that civilian oversight exists, he said. “The military can exercise control over policy because democracy is weak.”

However, unlike co

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Bangkok

Protest leader tests positive for Covid-19 a week after being released from jail

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

A pro-democracy movement leader has tested positive for Covid-19 after she spent 8 weeks in jail awaiting a trial on lese majeste charges which prohibit statements that insult or defame the Thai Monarchy. 2 other protest leaders facing similar charges have tested positive for Covid-19 while in court detention.

After being released from the Central Women’s Correctional Institution on May 6, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul spent most of her time at home. She went to a drive-through Covid-19 testing venue on May 10. She went by the Bangkok Remand Prison the next day for the release of 2 other protest leaders, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan. Rung has now been admitted to the Thammasat University Hospital in Pathum Thani for treatment.

Rung says had been denied an earlier Covid-19 test because she did not have some of the symptoms of the virus.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,983 new infections and 34 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล (Public Health Minister)

The daily Covid-19 death toll hit a record high today with 34 deaths reported. 1,983 new Covid-19 infections were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported 88,907 Covid-19 infections and 486 coronavirus-related deaths.

There are now 29,378 active Covid-19 cases in Thailand. Active cases peaked at just over 30,000 infections last week and have been on a very slight downward slope. The number of patients with severe symptoms has slightly increased to 1,200 with 401 of them on ventilators.

Around 75% of the new Covid-19 infections are in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. While the infection rate remains high in the capital, several provinces have reported no Covid-19 infections and many provinces report under 10 infections.

Most of the new Covid-related fatalities reported today are patients with underlying conditions of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. 12 of the 34 patients who died had contracted Covid-19 from family members, a trend in the deaths of patients. The elderly and those with chronic illnesses are at the highest risk of a severe Covid-19 infection.

A CCSA spokesperson notes that migrant workers are entitled to treatment under social welfare programs regardless of their legal status in Thailand.

“Legal or not, they will be treated. Legal status is not an issue at all. The priority is to get them treated and recovered as soon as possible.”

To combat the spread of Covid-19 in Bangkok, the CCSA is expediting the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in high-risk areas like Bangkok’s Khlong Toey slum. Since the nationwide vaccination campaign was launched in late February, 1.89 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered. Only 530,000 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Provinces with the highest number of new Covid-19 cases…

Province New cases Total since April 1
Bangkok 976 21,405
Nonthaburi 266 4,035
Samut Prakan 110 3,420
Chon Buri 57 3,489
Surat Thani 53 1,256
Ayutthaya 38 743
Samut Sakhon 36 1,627
Chanthaburi 32 562
Pathum Thani 29 1,477
Pattani 28 240
Covid UPDATE: 1,983 new infections and 34 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Daily Covid-related deaths in Thailand as of 11 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

Covid UPDATE: 1,983 new infections and 34 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 11 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

 

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Thailand

More than 15,000 foreigners arrested since January for illegal border crossings

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Kanchanaburi News

Thousands of foreign nationals have been arrested this year for illegally crossing land borders into Thailand. Due to fears that those entering Thailand illegally and evading the mandatory 14-day quarantine could possibly lead to the spread of Covid-19, particularly more contagious variants of the virus, Thai authorities say they will take tough legal action on illegal migrants and labour traffickers.

From January 1 to May 9, a total of 15,378 people have been arrested for illegally crossing land borders into Thailand. Out of the people arrested, 6,072 were from Myanmar, 5,114 were from Cambodia and 882 were from Laos.

The Thai Immigration Bureau is working with border patrol officers to tighten security along Thailand’s borders, the bureau’s chief Sompong Chingduang told the Bangkok Post.

“Those who enter Thailand illegally will be prosecuted under the immigration law, the communicable diseases and the emergency decree.”

In Thailand’s last wave of Covid-19 infections in December and January, fingers pointed at illegal Burmese migrants as the epicentre of infections were concentrated at a fishing hub in Samut Sakhon, affecting a large migrant worker population.

With the recent wave of infections peaking drastically higher than the past outbreaks in Thailand and said to be linked to the more contagious variant of the virus first found in the UK, health officials are now tightening security and control measures along the borders to prevent more cases.

Border security is also being increased to prevent the emergence of the variant of the virus first detected in India. The director of the Health Science Centre of Emerging Diseases at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of medicine made a post on Facebook saying he was concerned the variant could be imported into Thailand and cause another wave of infections.

“In the next few months, the variant found in India may slip across the border into Thailand from Myanmar. Business operators are now importing illegal migrants again… If the border is left unchecked like this and no tough measures are imposed in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, brace yourselves for a fourth wave. The current third wave will pale by comparison.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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