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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Poll parents oppose school closures; Rice pledging under microscope; Pheu Thai blames Constitutional Court for crisis

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Poll parents oppose school closures; Rice pledging under microscope; Pheu Thai blames Constitutional Court for crisis | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

School mergers unpopular with parents: Poll
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: More than half the parents surveyed by a Dusit Poll opposed the Education Ministry’s plan to merge 17,000 small schools across the country in order to increase efficiency and save costs.

Of the total, 60 per cent of parents said students, teachers and parents would be adversely affected by the plan. For example, some students would be travelling further to schools, and others might have problems adjusting to new students, new schools and ties to their communities.

Another 22 per cent said they were not sure if they agreed or disagreed with the plan because it had both disadvantages and drawbacks; while 17 per cent said they agreed with mergers because the ministry could manage schools more easily, and teachers could take better care of students. The poll was conducted among 1,292 parents from May 8-11.

Asked about what worried them most in the coming school semester, 38 per cent of parents said higher expenses for tuition fees, school uniforms, and equipment; and 24 per cent said they were concerned about their children’s safety in travelling to school; 21 per cent were worried about their children adjusting to new classes.

On teachers, 37 per cent of parents said they wanted them to provide knowledge to students to the best of their ability and focus on instilling ethics and morality; 23 per cent said they wanted teachers to give as much time as possible to students; and 20 per cent looked to teachers to be strict with students.

Asked what they wanted to tell the Education Ministry: 41 per cent said they wanted improved Thai education, 39 per cent wanted good curriculums and teaching with high standards, 10 per cent said providing equal educational opportunity for students.

Rice pledging scheme to be evaluated
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The subcommittee overseeing the government’s rice pledge revolving fund will soon convene to evaluate the fund’s status, said Luck Wajananawat, president of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).

He said that the subcommittee would also discuss the Commerce Ministry’s plans to pay back the Bt500 billion loan it borrowed from BAAC to run the pledging scheme. Most of those funds had now been spent on the scheme, he noted.

Luck said that if the government failed to meet the target for releasing rice from the stockpile – money that it needed to pay back BAAC – it might have to look at other ways to increase funds for the rice pledging project.

The government allocated Bt500 billion for the project, of which Bt410 billion was a loan from the BAAC, while the rest was lent to the government from the bank’s own coffers. The ministry had already paid Bt110 billion of the total Bt220 billion to be repaid this year.

Luck said that in effect, the government had to release stockpiled rice so it could make enough money to repay the fund. This would, in turn, enable the BAAC to continue the pledging scheme for the next crop season. Of the total Bt110 billion returned to the bank, Bt85 billion is for BAAC’s main crop pledge last year and the rest for the main crop of 2011.

Over the past few months, the BAAC has used Bt21.5 billion of the amount returned, to pledge a second crop for 2012/2103, totalling 1.34 million tonnes of rice from 17,000 rice farmers. The bank expects that seven million tonnes from the second rice crop will be included in the scheme. The pledging process for the second crop will end on September 15. Currently the fund could afford the pledge for the second crop, Luck said.
He said the subcommittee would also discuss whether the strong baht and the decline in the price of rice on the global market would affect the government’s decision to release rice from the stockpile.

House dissolution an option : Phumtham
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai believes the Constitutional Court is responsible for creating the crisis between the judiciary and legislative branches and says dissolution of the House may be the best solution in the current stand-off.

He said the crisis had broken out after 312 MPs – mostly Pheu Thai lawmakers and appointed senators – announced they would not accept the authority of the Constitutional Court over a judicial review to assess the constitutionality of a bill to amend Article 68.

In his interview to The Nation, Phumtham said that the crisis originated from the court’s own one-sided interpretation of the charter.

“The power to amend the charter belongs to Parliament and no organisation should interpret the laws to expand its scope of power. This has become a crisis of conflict between two institutions – Parliament and the judiciary – who interpret the charter differently,” Phutham told The Nation.

Phumtham said Pheu Thai had already tried its best to avoid confronting the judiciary by not pushing ahead to pass the Article 291-amendment bill in the third reading after the Constitutional Court ruled that the entire charter rewrite could not be done without first holding a public referendum. The 291-amendment bill sought to set up a charter-drafting assembly to rewrite the entire charter.

Since the judiciary and legislative branch interpret the charter differently, Pheu Thai might have to seek a second opinion from the public and other organisations, Phumthai said.

“There is no such thing as an instant formula in politics. We need to find the best way out of the crisis without hindering a possible solution just because we fear the outcome. We may have to hold public debates with experts or perhaps hold a public referendum. We may even have to dissolve the House,” Phumtham said.

He added that it was not the government’s intention to dissolve the House. “However, if there is no way out of the crisis and the only option left is House dissolution, then we must do it,” he added.

He said it was not always certain that the government would win a snap election after dissolution of the House, but it would define more clearly where the support of the people lay on the issue.

It was normal in a democracy for the majority to have the last say when facing this kind of deadlock, said added.

“If our House seats were to dwindle after an election, we would review our position, but at the same time, we could get overwhelming backing from the people, then the Constitutional Court would have to review its stand,” Phumtham said.

He denied that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a Skype video call to a meeting of Pheu Thai MPs to ask them to get ready for a House dissolution.

Thaksin simply asked Pheu Thai MPs to regularly visit their constituents during the break of Parliament, he said.

The Pheu Thai secretary-general said impeachment of Constitutional Court judges might be an option for ending the crisis of conflict between the two branches of power, but Pheu Thai had not yet considered the proposal.

Although the plan to amend the charter had resulted in the stand-off, Phumtham insists that the amendments must be carried out because it was one of Pheu Thai’s party promises during its election campaign.
— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1

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Thailand News Today | Waiting for vaccine, new face of Thailand expats, teacher complaints | Oct 1 | The Thaiger

Daily Thai news on The Thaiger. All the latest information about Thailand, Monday to Friday on Thaiger News Today.

Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. The claim comes from the Tourism Council of Thailand president. Around 120 to 150 tourists departing from China are set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 after a 6 month ban on international tourists. They’ll have to go through a 14 day state quarantine, but after that, they may not be able to enjoy some of the island’s beaches. A report from Bloomberg says it’s “unlikely” beaches and parks will fully open to overseas travellers until a vaccine becomes available. At this stage there are still many questions about a successful vaccine either becoming available or the efficacy of such a vaccine even when it is. Then there are questions about whether getting a vaccine will become a condition of travel to Thailand or internationally. For the time being, only tourists on select charter flights with a 90 day Special Tourist Visa can enter the country. “It’s good for the country to reopen even if it’s just for trial … Once we’ve tested our reopening plan for a month, we can assess how to go forward and allow more visitors to come in.”

Changing face of Thailand’s expats

Thailand’s dominant working expat nationality in past decades has been Japanese, currently making up 18% of expatriates in the country. But that dominance is about to be overtaken. While Japanese expatriate numbers are decreasing, a CBRE report notes that Chinese and Filipino expats are on the rise in Thailand. There were 28,560 Japanese expats in Thailand as of Q3 2020, just ahead of the Chinese expat contingent at 25,811. As China’s manufacturing has shifted overseas and Filipino expatriates have increased in line with local demand for teachers fluent in English, there’s been a continuing de-centralisation of the expat communities living in Thailand. You can read more about that report, and the effects on the Thai property market at thethaiger.com

More reports of alleged student abuse, parents file complaint against teacher

More reports of teachers allegedly abusing their students have come to light after a Nonthaburi teacher was caught on video pushing a kindergarten student to the floor, pulling a student across the floor and repeatedly hitting other students. Now more classroom videos of teachers allegedly abusing their students are being widely shared online as well as photos of children’s marks and injuries from the alleged abuse. Meanwhile, the main Thonburi school, at the centre of the current allegations, has agreed to pay compensation, including refunding school fees, paying medical costs, and better screening and scrutiny of teaching staff.

Contestant eliminated from Miss Universe Thailand after manager infiltrates organising committee

One of the favourites to take the Miss Universe Thailand title when the contest is held on Saturday, October 10, has just been kicked out for breaking the rules. Chayathanus Saradat, also known as “Cheraim”, is accused of allowing her manager and chaperone to infiltrate the organising committee. It’s understood he manager, aka “Ken”, attended numerous committee meetings, potentially getting the inside scoop on what questions contestants might be asked, and giving his client an advantage. Thailand still has a fascination for the ‘beauty contestant’ format and there are hundreds of such contests conducted around the country each year.

Police confiscate 300 kilos of marijuana in central Thailand drugs bust

A drugs bust in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, has netted 300 kilos of marijuana, valued at around 2 million baht. Anti-narcotics officers confiscated the haul yesterday when they apprehended 3 men in a department store car park. Thai Residents reports that dried marijuana usually fetches around 6,500 baht per kilo on the black market. It’s understood this consignment was on its way to a Bangkok-based dealer when it was intercepted.

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Tourism

Travel agents push to end quarantine for tourists from countries at low risk for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth

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Travel agents push to end quarantine for tourists from countries at low risk for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Qui Hotel

Travel agents are pushing to end the 14 day quarantine required for foreign tourists arriving from countries classified as a very low risk for spreading Covid-19, hoping the government will agree with the idea and start in December. The move could bring in at least 100,000 tourists per month, according to president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, or ATTA, Vichit Prakobkoson.

The thought of 2 weeks in isolation before enjoying a vacation turns away a lot of potential tourists. Vichit says the idea of quarantine “repulses” them. But some tourists are still onboard with travelling to Thailand, even if that means spending 14 days in quarantine.

Around 120 to 150 tourists on the new Special Tourist Visa are set to arrive next week from China to Phuket after a 6 month ban on international tourists. The tourists are required to quarantine for 14 days at a state approved facility. The new visa allows a 90 stay and can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months.

Vichit says new measure won’t be enough to revive Thailand’s crippled tourism industry which took a hit when the country halted international travel to control the spread of the coronavirus. 1,200 foreign tourists are expected to arrive each month under the new Special Tourist Visa, but Vichit says the number of monthly tourists could increase to 100,000 each month if the quarantine is waived for people from countries consider low risk.

“The government should challenge and revoke the state quarantine, if possible, by this December for certain countries. If so, approximately 100,000 foreigners a month would travel to Thailand and might stay for 5 to 7 days.”

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Opening borders could cause a second Covid-19 outbreak, epidemiologist says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Opening borders could cause a second Covid-19 outbreak, epidemiologist says | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Post

Opening Thailand’s borders to foreign tourists may open a “Pandora’s box” of Covid-19 infections, according to leading epidemiologist on the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine Thira Woratanarat. After a 6 month ban on international tourists, the first group of travellers on the new Special Tourist Visa are set to fly from China to Phuket on October 8. Thira says the move puts the country at risk of a second coronavirus outbreak.

“If the country decides to take risks, everyone must rely on themselves because this is a war between virus and humans and people need to survive… The country will be a new endemic area if the government cannot contain the spread of the disease effectively. And even if there is a Covid-19 vaccine, it might be too late.”

The 120 to 150 tourists arriving next week on the Special Tourist Visa are required to quarantine at a state approved facility for 14 days. They are also required to be tested for Covid-19 before their flight and before being released from quarantine.

Thira has been vocal for months on his disapproval for opening the borders to foreign tourists and has stood firmly against proposals like so called “travel bubbles.” He says the coronavirus cases across globe have continued to raise and warns that people in Thailand should still abide by coronavirus prevention measures like wearing a mask.

“Many countries are still under the severe pandemic and have an infection rate 20 times that of Thailand’s, so Thailand will be at a risk of becoming a pandemic hotspot after the country is reopened.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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