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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Police crack down in Nakhon Si Thammarat; Ghost trains due to repairs; Bangkok Gov wants fire engine deal extinguished

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Police crack down in Nakhon Si Thammarat; Ghost trains due to repairs; Bangkok Gov wants fire engine deal extinguished | The Thaiger
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– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Police crack down on rubber protest
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: More than 10 vehicles were smashed and set ablaze and people injured when clashes broke out between hundreds of rubber growers and security officials at the Kuan Nong Hong Intersection in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Cha-uat district yesterday.

The officials used tear gas to disperse the crowd, while the protesters used what they could find – stones or sticks – to hit back.

Deputy PM Kittiratt Na-Ranong said the government had put measures in place to help rubber growers and was not planning to offer anything else. Calling on the protesters to not do anything that affects other people’s rights, he said the government would explain the measures.

Initially, most rubber growers found the Cabinet-approved Bt2,520 subsidy per rai per household deal acceptable, but some demanded the price for rubber be set at Bt120 per kilogram and the subsidy be paid to individual farmers with/without title deeds. Hence, they organized a road block at Kuan Nong Hong again.

Early yesterday, police managed to take charge of the site and re-open Highway 41, but protesters began gathering again at around noon and youngsters started throwing rocks and firing slingshots at officials. That was when police opted for tear gas.

Jaroon Yoschu, a mentally ill man, wandered into the site and sustained a head injury.

As the clash continued and security officials were pushed back, protesters damaged and set fire to a detention truck and several other vehicles. It was reported that a Thai PBS van was also smashed and a reporter’s camera seized by the protesters.

A hair salon near the site was also damaged and riddled with bullets, while protester Somnam Rachrong was shot in the leg.

Chayanin Khongsong, one of 11 protest leaders wanted by the authorities, was also reportedly arrested during the crackdown.

Provincial governor Viroj Jivarangsan said that in the morning security officials went to investigate damage done to a police booth at Kuan Nong Hong Intersection and police then moved to re-open the road.

Meanwhile, 10 Democrat MPs for Nakhon Si Thammarat issued a statement objecting to the crackdown and expressed concern that the situation may get out of control. They urged the government to tell the police to avoid confrontation and employ peaceful means to control the situation.

Trains empty as travellers cancel bookings
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Many train passengers cancelled their reservations yesterday as the State Railway of Thailand announced that it was suspending all north-bound trains until October 31 beyond Sila At train junction in Uttaradit to make way for repairs.

The SRT is organizing vans to transport travellers if their destination is beyond Sila At, SRT governor Prapat Chongsanguan said.

Meanwhile, a South-bound train derailed yesterday at Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station. No casualties were reported.

In recent months, there have been as many as 10 derailments involving North-bound trains, plus a few other mishaps, including last week’s accident at a Bangkok terminal and yesterday’s derailment at Hua Lamphong.

Prapat said the suspension of North-bound trains should be lifted by the end of October, once the tunnels in Uttaradit, Phrae, Lampang and Lamphun as well as railway tracks at curves where derailments have taken place are repaired.

Meanwhile, up to 5,100 train tickets worth about Bt4.3 million were returned yesterday, senior SRT official Jarasphan Watcharothai said.

Prapat said that yesterday there were only five passengers travelling to Chiang Mai, while nobody had bought a ticket to the northern city for today.

Usually some 15,000 passengers travel to Chiang Mai in seven train services, Jarasphan said, adding that at least a third of this number would be lost following the suspension.

Two express train services from Bangkok to Chiang Mai had been cancelled earlier, while another three trains will be terminating in Uttaradit to make way for repairs.

The SRT said only three services were now operating on the northern line, and two express train services have been temporarily cancelled. Train travellers are being bussed in both directions between Chiang Mai and Sila At.

The SRT has set up the 1690 hotline for passengers to find out more.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said there were 89 derailments in 2012 and the total reached 113 by September 10 this year.

BMA seeks to ‘kill’ fire engines deal after ruling
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Bangkok governor is cranking up efforts to kill a contract signed with an Austrian firm to supply fire vehicles following a landmark corruption ruling last week on the highly controversial deal.

In the hope of adding more weight to their plea, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has said that it will ask a Switzerland-based arbitrator to regard the Supreme Court’s ruling, under which a former deputy interior ministry was sentenced to 12 years in jail, as evidence.

The BMA also wants the Attorney General to file a lawsuit with the Intellectual Property and International Trade Court in order to get Austria’s Steyr Daimler Puch Spezialfahrzeug to cancel the contract under which it sold fire vehicles for Bt6.6 billion.

The city administration has asked the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in Geneva to help get the contract cancelled and to seek a refund for unused fire vehicles, which it says stemmed from the corrupt deal.

The BMA also wants related officials to pay damages at the Central Administrative Court, while the relevant agency will take disciplinary action against these officials.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumb-hand Paribatra said the Supreme Court ruling was clear proof the fire vehicles were bought under a questionable deal, and that it supports the BMA’s push for the arbitrator to cancel the contract and get a full refund.

He said the BMA would be sending the arbitrator a translation of the ruling to further its case.

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found both Pracha Maleenont and former senior BMA official Athilak Tanchookiat guilty of rigging bids in the fire vehicles case. Athilak was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The pair allegedly pushed for the purchase of 315 fire trucks and 30 fire-fighting boats without comparing prices, which allowed the Austrian company to sell the vehicles at a price that was nearly 49 per cent higher than it would have been if bought locally.

Pracha was absent when the verdict was read. He is thought to have fled abroad.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment

Caitlin Ashworth



Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment | The Thaiger

To help reduce unemployment and boost the economy after the pandemic, 8,000 graduates will be hired by the company Charoen Pokphand Foods, known as CP Foods. Thailand’s Ministry of Labour recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the company.

4,000 of those jobs will be in Bangkok and metropolitan areas while the other 4,000 more in the upcountry. The job offers vary from positions in the computer science field to positions in the culinary industry.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin says the government has a policy to unite all sectors of the society to revive the economy from the coronavirus crisis that caused job cuts, leaving many unemployed, especially new graduates.

He adds that CP Foods has been constantly supporting the government in Covid-19 relief effort since the beginning of the outbreak. This post Covid-19 collaboration will create stability for people at all levels and build more small and medium sized enterprise, or SME, owners that are the foundation of Thai economy.

There’s also a discount coupon giveaway from CP Foods and the minister says it will help reduce cost of living for people who are eligible for social security benefits.

CEO of CP Foods Prasit Boondoungprasert says CP Foods is managed in line with the parent group CP Group’s policy, to solve the Thailand’s unemployment problem, particularly for new graduates, by creating job opportunities and job security. He says it’s an “engine for economic revival.”

CP Foods will also provide a business opportunity for SME franchises like FiveStar and STAR Coffee, which need a small budget and small space to kick off.

The company will also offer training courses with experts to guide them to start up the business. It expects to create 4,500 franchise owners nationwide.

CP Foods will have a book at the Job Expo Thailand 2020 this Saturday until Monday at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centres, or BITEC. Those interested can click HERE for more information.

To learn more about starting a FiveStar franchise click HERE and for a STAR Coffee franchise click HERE.

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Empire strikes back: Thai royalists oppose constitution changes

Caitlin Ashworth



Empire strikes back: Thai royalists oppose constitution changes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Warong Dechgitvigrom

Just after proposed constitutional amendments, backed by pro-democracy supporters, were submitted to the Thai parliament, the Thai Pakdee royalist group filed a petition with 130,000 signatures saying they are against making changes to the constitution.

Pro-democracy activists have been demanding a rewrite of the Thai constitution at protests over the past few months. The nonprofit organisation Internet Law Reform Dialogue, known as iLaw, drafted amendments including one that would require all senators and local administrators to be elected. Currently Thailand’s entire Senate is hand-picked by the ruling party. More than 100,000 people back the proposed changes.

“There’s no need to make changes”, according to Former Democrat MP and leader of Thai Pakdee Warong Dechgitvigrom. He says the 2017 Constitution was approved by 16.8 million people (Thailand’s population is 69.4 million).

“Redoing the process would cost 15 billion baht in taxpayer money. On top of that, it would require 2 referenda and a general election.”

According to Thai PBS, 84 of the 250 senators need to be on board to move forward with revisions to the constitution. At the moment, around 60 of them are in favour of constitutional amendments while 100 oppose any changes and the rest are undecided. But Senators against the amendments might change their minds, according to Senate whip Sangsit Phiriyarangsan. He says he believes more senators will be in favour of making some amendments after hearing debates in parliament.


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Thailand News Today | Surachet sues, The Nude Panda | September 23

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Surachet sues, The Nude Panda | September 23 | The Thaiger

Daily TV News from The Thaiger

Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer

The former head of Thai Immigration, and poster boy for Thai officialdom, Surachet Hakparn, is taking legal action against Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, after the PM had him unceremoniously transferred to an inactive post last year.

Surachet, commonly known by the nickname “Big Joke”, (a nickname given to him by Thai media) accuses the PM of transferring him without just cause and has been petitioning for a review of the decision ever since.

At the time there was no reason given for the high-profile head of Thailand’s Immigration to be ‘side-lined’ to desk duties at the PM’s office.

Surachet’s lawyer says that in the 1 year and 5 months since his client’s transfer, there has been “no investigation launched against him” and that he should immediately re-instated.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2018, Surachet’s face was everywhere in daily media reports, often seen with hordes of foreigners his team had ’rounded up’ in immigration crackdowns around the country.

But at some point, he appears to have stepped on the wrong toes, calling into question procurement practices at the Immigration Bureau, amid plans to spend billions on smart cars and the airports biometrics system. Surachet was dumped and sidelined… the purchases went ahead.

4 Thai banks to be investigated for “suspicious transfers” after FinCEN files report

4 Thai banks are being investigated after an international money laundering report said the Thai banks had “suspicious financial transactions.” The report found 92 “suspicious” transactions in and out of Thailand totalling to $9,558,752 USD received in Thailand and $31,750,000 USD sent out.

Files were allegedly leaked from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.The FinCEN Files report“reveals the role of global banks in industrial scale money laundering,” citing a total of $2 trillion USD in suspicious global transactions from 1997 to 2017.

The Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office plans to investigate Kasikorn Bank, Bangkok Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Export Import Bank of Thailand. But he says the information from the international report needs to be verified first.

Thai sex workers push for prostitution decriminalisation

Prostitution could become further decriminalised in Thailand. A petition is being passed around calling on the government to stop arresting and fining sex workers.

The Empower Foundation, which supports sex worker, is trying to collect 10,000 signatures before they send it to parliament. Also known as the Centre for Sex Workers’ Protection, Empower is a non-profit organisation in Thailand that supports sex workers by offering free classes in language, health, law and pre-college education, as well as individual counselling.

“Prostitution is not illegal in Thailand, although many activities associated with it are… like brothels, soliciting, pimping and causing a public nuisance etc. Still the underground industry is estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year.

Activists say prostitution laws do little to protect sex workers. Fines and arrests for soliciting sex, have pushed some sex workers into poverty, most of them being women. Thailand is estimated to have up to 200,000 sex workers, many of them now unemployed with no recourse to unemployment benefits or official help during the pandemic.

Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends

A holiday-led economic recovery. That appears to be a part of the government’s agenda following yesterday’s meeting of the Thai cabinet. 2 new holiday weekends have been created, one in November, one in December.

In both cases the extended weekends will be 4 days each, adding the Thursdays and Fridays before the weekend. Given the exodus of foreigner this week, there will be fewer of the ‘stranded’ expats and foreign visitors to add to the economic tally of the additional holidays.

So, put it in your diaries…

• November 19-22

• December 10-13

Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine

A man working as a food delivery driver in the southern province of Songkhla, has been filmed riding his motorbike totally naked. The 24 year old later handed himself in to police, explaining that he’d taken his clothes off due to “a personal problem”.

The nature of the problem is not known, and police let the man go with a 500 baht fine.

A video was posted on social media, showing the naked young man hurtling along on his motorbike, which had a food delivery bag on the back. The video has now been deleted. According to a motorbike taxi driver witness, the man parked his bike in front of a local temple, removed his clothes, then got back on the bike and drove off.

Social media response was mixed with most just inquisitive about his motives to ride “commando” with little protection, actually no protection at all.

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