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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PDRC guards injured in gun attacks; 45 countries issue travel warnings; EC calls to delay polls

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PDRC guards injured in gun attacks; 45 countries issue travel warnings; EC calls to delay polls | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Seven PDRC guards injured in attacks near Democracy Monument
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: At least seven men serving as security guards for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee were injured in sporadic attacks near the Democracy Monument rally site early Saturday, police and protesters said.

The first attack happened at the Kokwua Intersection on Tanaosri Road at 2am, according to Pol Lt Thaweerat Thamrongwattanakul of the Chana Songkram police station.

Police and rescue volunteers rushed to the scene to find two men injured. One of them, Erawat Kaewsee, 28, was shot at his right shoulder. The other man was not identified. He was shot at his left thigh and right leg. Both were rushed to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Central Hospital.

Witnesses told police that four or five motorcyclists raced from Phra Pinkloa Bridge and opened fire at a taxi near Krua Rajdamnoen restaurant and more sounds of gunfire and explosions were heard near the Government Lottery Office and at the Kokwua Intersection.

While, reporters and photographers were inspecting the shooting scene at the Kokwua Intersection, sounds of gunfire were head, sending the media crew to flee.

A cameraman of ThaiPBS, Panuwat Ritthitham narrowly escaped a hit as a bullet graced his left leg and pieced through his trousers.

More sounds of gunfire and explosions were heard throughout the early morning. Police said they received reports that at least seven guards were injured.

EC urges restart of poll process
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Numerous problems in run-up to Feb 2 election; top bureaucrat faces probe over statement calling on the govt to resign

The Election Commission yesterday suggested that the government start anew the election process because of many problems that have complicated the run-up to the February 2 polls.

The EC asked the government to call for a royal decree authorising a new election date. It noted an absence of election candidates in many constituencies. The agency also pointed to concerns expressed by the Office of the Auditor-General that if the February 2 date is maintained, it could be a waste of more than Bt3 billion.

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry yesterday became the first high-ranking bureaucrat to be investigated by the government’s Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) for his alleged involvement in a statement calling on the government to resign.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered CAPO to investigate senior Public Health Ministry officials, according to caretaker Minister Pradith Sinthawanarong. He said Yingluck had instructed CAPO to invite permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahamethaphat explain facts related to his political statement against her government.

“All officials must comply with laws and regulations. They violate the law if they do not work. Narong will be disciplined if he is found guilty,” Pradith said.

Such discipline would be administered by CAPO, as the country is now in an abnormal situation.

Fact-finding committee

Pradith said he would also set up a fact-finding committee on Narong’s actions.

“It is not proper for him to do something like this as he is a senior officer of the ministry,” he said.

Narong and numerous other officials of the Public Health Ministry gathered as a group they called the “Public Health Assembly” and issue a third statement asking the caretaker government to undergo political reform before pressing ahead with the election. They also urged it to resign to pave the way for such reform.

They also announced they would not work with this government as it lacks authority to administer the country. However, they said they would still provide services for people.

“I really feel that I am being myself after I decided to join the assembly to issue this statement,” Narong told the MCOT television station. “I also was not worried about my position, as I wanted to express my political standpoint that I want reforms before the election.”

However, he said he would not resign and would work to provide medical services to members of the public.

After Narong issued the strong statement against the government, there was a report that other top officials of the Public Health Ministry had issued a counter-statement supporting the election scheduled for February 2, saying ministry officials should be politically neutral.

Medical Services Department director-general Dr Suphan Srithamma denied that report but said all officials must continue their jobs to provide services to people. If they want to join demonstrations, they should do so after office hours.

Meanwhile, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, Dr Chanvit Tharathep, said health officials should follow the Civil Servants Act and maintain discipline because the election had already been endorsed by the law that designated Yingluck as caretaker prime minister.

“I think nobody should issue a statement like this in the name of [public] officials,” he said. A source said there was a meeting of the top officials of all ministries on Thursday but no statements had been issued to express a political stance.

“The top officials at the meeting agreed that they must continue their jobs. If the protesters block the ministries they will move to another place to work, as they do not want to confront the protesters,” the source said.

“Most of the permanent secretaries do not want to endorse the power of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee as the royal decree for House dissolution is still in place. The country must [therefore] go ahead with the election” unless it is legally postponed.

No leave for health officials

Public Health Ministry officials and all government doctors have been instructed not to take leave, except sick leaves and duty tours, in preparation for extra duties during the “Bangkok shutdown” campaign by anti-government protesters starting on Monday.

In a related development, a group of university rectors yesterday called for the February 2 election to be postponed to prevent possible violence and the caretaker prime minister to be replaced by a person who is “politically neutral”.

“In principle, the caretaker government should be headed by a neutral prime minister. So the current caretaker prime minister may have to be replaced,” said Professor Rajata Rajatanavin, chairman of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand.

The council, which has members from 27 major state universities, convened yesterday amid rising political tension ahead of the planned siege of key parts of the capital.

Earlier yesterday, Yingluck urged the military to mediate between the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the government in a bid to resolve the political stalemate.

45 countries issue travel warnings
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Many countries have advised their nationals to stay away from demonstration sites on Monday and ensure that they have enough cash on them, a fully-charged communication device as well as enough food and water to last a while. They have also bee

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand News Today | Prayut acquitted, Chinese probe, Speed limit 120 kph | December 2

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Prayut acquitted, Chinese probe, Speed limit 120 kph | December 2 | The Thaiger

The Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha has been acquitted by the Constitutional Court. Full story HERE.

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month.

The flights will start back up on Christmas day. Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces, well just about everywhere for that matter, have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers.

The money was meant to be paid to police who worked extra shifts during the lockdowns. The case was assigned by national police chief last month, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police in Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a misunderstanding, with the officer in question receiving a warning.

The rest of the investigations will be completed within 10 days.

Speed limit on Thailand’s highways to be increased to 120 kilometres an hour

The government has approved an official increase in the upper speed limit on Thailand’s national and rural highways, with the aim of improving traffic flow.

The new maximum speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour has been confirmed after the Thai Cabinet approved a draft regulation proposed by the Transport Ministry.

If you’ve ever driven on a Thai freeway or motorway you’d already know that much of Thai traffic already drives well in excess of 100 kilometres an hour and sometimes even more than the new 120 kph limit.

The new speed limit will be applicable only to highways with at least 2 lanes travelling in the same direction and traffic islands that have barriers. But the new speed limit won’t apply to buses and trucks.

“ASQ… Paradise?” TAT launches search website to find hotels for a “happy quarantine”

From ‘army intelligence’ to ‘fun run’ and ‘unbiased opinion’ we now have a new oxymoron to add to the English language, courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand… ‘ASQ Paradise’.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has put the two contradictory words together in its new promotion called “ASQ Paradise.” A new website was launched allowing users to search for alternative state quarantine hotels in Thailand for a “happy quarantine.”

The website features 107 ASQ hotels offering 2 week quarantine packages ranging from 27,000 baht to 220,000 baht. The website is available in English and Chinese languages.

Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon

The Chinese, like the rest of us, are mostly prohibited from travelling at the moment, but it hasn’t stopped them travelling to the Moon.

A Chinese space probe has landed on the surface of the Moon to bring back the first lunar samples in nearly 5 decades. Since the US dropped its Apollo missions to the Moon in 1972, the Earth’s only natural satellite has been a bit lonely.

The Chinese space programhas poured billions into its space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the Moon to establish an ongoing lunar base.

Chang’e 5 touched down on the near side of the Moon yesterday. It will spend a total of 48 hours on the surface of the moon before re-uniting with it’s mother-ship which will then bring the lunar probe back to Earth.

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Nakhon Si Thammarat hit by floods, more rain expected in the South

Caitlin Ashworth

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Nakhon Si Thammarat hit by floods, more rain expected in the South | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

Flooding in the southern province Nakhon Si Thammarat has affected thousands of residents with some evacuating their homes due to the rising water level. Heavy to very heavy rain is expected to continue in the South and the Thai Meteorological Department is warning residents in the lower southern provinces to beware of severe conditions that may cause flash floods and water runoff.

Flooding caused by heavy rainfall over the past several days has affected 16,709 households with 47,939 people, according to Governor Kraisorn Wisitwong. He says floods hit 351 villages in 15 districts: Cha Uat, Chulabhorn, Thung Song, Mueang, Phra Phrom, Ron Phibun, Tha Sala, Phipun, Nabon, Lan Saka, Sichon, Chalerm Phra Kiat, Chian Yai, Nop Phitam and Khanom

In Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Lan Saka district, a flash flood struck the area when a mass of water rushed down the Khao Luang mountain. Water levels have risen due to the continuous rain, causing the catchment area on the mountain to overflow.

Some residents in the Mueang district had to evacuate their homes. An American English teacher living in the area told The Thaiger she’s opened her doors to her neighbours whose homes are flooded. This morning, the water around her home was up to her knees. She now estimates the water is close to waist level.

Schools throughout the province closed. The Bangkok Post says the Nakhon Si Thammarat airport is open as usual, but the Thai Enquirer reports that most flights have been delayed. A local police officer told the Thai Enquirer that all major roads in the city have been closed.

So far, a total of 291,156 rai of farmland has been flooded, possibly damaging fish farms. In the Tha Sala and Nabon districts, 8 homes have reportedly been damaged.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Thai Meteorological Department | Bangkok Post| Thai Enquirer

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Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon

The Thaiger

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Chinese probe collects rock samples from surface of the Moon | The Thaiger

The Chinese, like the rest of us, are mostly prohibited from travelling at the moment, but it hasn’t stopped them travelling to the Moon. A Chinese space probe has landed on the surface of the Moon to bring back the first lunar samples in nearly 5 decades. Since the US dropped its Apollo missions to the Moon in 1972, the Earth’s only natural satellite has been a bit lonely.

The Chinese space program has poured billions into its space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the Moon to establish an ongoing lunar base. No Chinese have been participating in the International Space Station.

The Chang’e-5 spacecraft adds to a string of successes for Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program. Chang’e is the name for the mythical Chinese moon goddess. The probe touched down on the near side of the Moon yesterday. It will spend a total of 48 hours on the surface of the moon before re-uniting with it’s mother-ship which will then bring the lunar probe back to Earth.

The unmanned Chang’e-5 probe will collect lunar rocks and soil to help scientists learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity, the first such collections since the 1970s when an unmanned Russian lunar probe conducted a similar mission. The probe is the latest venture by a Chinese space program that sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, has a spacecraft en route to Mars and aims eventually to land a human on the moon.

If Chang’e-5 returns to Earth successfully, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

The probe was launched from China’s southern tropical island of Hainan last week and entered lunar orbit aver the weekend after a 112 hour journey. The probe will collect 2 kilograms of material in a previously unexplored area known as “Ocean of Storms”, a vast lava plain of grey rocks and dust.

The probe will collect samples from the surface and drill a 2 metre deep hole to gather soil and rock samples from beneath the lunar surface as well.

Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA official from the mission directorate, says the mission was no easy task.

“When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community. Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5.”

The Chang’e 5 flight is China’s third successful lunar landing. Its predecessor, Chang’e 4, was the first probe to land on the Moon’s lesser-explored far side which is perpetually facing away from the Earth.

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