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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Pracha faces Bt6.68bn fire truck probe; Rohingya land at Satun; 5 shot dead in Pattani; Legend crooner Sayan dies at 60

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

AMLO to size up assets of Pracha, ex-official
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Anti-Money Laundering Office will evaluate assets belonging to former deputy interior minister Pracha Maleenont and a former senior Bangkok Metropolitan Administration official before pursuing possible seizure if they are found to have been acquired illegally, after both were sentenced on charges of bid-rigging in the fire vehicles case by a court on Tuesday.

Secretary-general Seehanat Prayoonrat said the AMLO needed to study the ruling by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Person Holding Political Positions to see whether it had issued any sanction on both men’s assets. If so, the agency will act to seize the illegally acquired assets belonging to both the convicted, whether the assets were in Thailand or overseas.

A deputy AMLO secretary-general had earlier said that the Bt6.68 billion paid by the BMA for a large number of unused fire vehicles to a foreign manufacturer could be entirely retrieved through a seizure authorised by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), whereas the AMLO could seize only money or assets acquired through wrongdoing by convicted criminals.

While AMLO has the authority to order seizure of money or assets belonging to convicted criminals that was acquired through their wrongdoings, the NACC can seize entire amounts of cash, profits or assets to make up for losses through corruption. The NACC can file criminal or civil lawsuits, explained Suwanee Sawaengphol.

The NACC yesterday did not respond to Suwanee’s comments. It also made no statement on any plan to retrieve the Bt6.68 billion paid for the fire vehicles. On Tuesday, Pracha was sentenced to a 12-year prison term for his role in the 2004 purchase of the fire and rescue vehicles and equipment for the BMA.

Both agencies also did not state yesterday what action they might take against Pracha, and former senior BMA official Athilak Tanchookiat, who has been sentenced to 10 years, in terms of seeking compensation.

Even if the NACC takes action over the Bt6.68 billion, it will certainly be difficult for Thai authorities to reclaim the money, as there has been strong resistance through civil countersuits from Austrian manufacturer Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug AG & Co KG, which assembled and sold the fire vehicles to the BMA.

Foreign Ministry awaits request

The Foreign Ministry is awaiting a written request from agencies authorised to seek the arrest of Pracha, who is believed to have fled overseas, said deputy ministry spokesman Jakkrit Srivali. He said the immigration police would know where Pracha was now, from his latest visa stamps. Pracha’s passport would expire on March 18, 2017, he added.

The 315 fire trucks and 30 fire boats sit unused at two locations in Nonthaburi and Chon Buri due to the NACC seizure order and the BMA’s refusal to accept them. Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has said an arbitrator based in Switzerland is working on making use of the vehicles.

This prevents the BMA from using them, while the arbitrator cannot make any public statement about the case.

The head of the BMA’s Fire and Rescue Department, Pol Colonel Phichai Kringwatthanasiri, said although the engines of all the vehicles may still work, their tyres were all flat and it would take hundreds of millions of baht to have them replaced.

A BMA source said that the court’s ruling was being translated into English and would later be sent to the arbitrator as key evidence to add more weight to the BMA’s case seeking compensation for the non-use of the fire vehicles, because of corruption being committed and ruled accordingly by a Thai court of justice.

The BMA is also fighting two legal battles with local custodians of the parked vehicles, who are demanding extra pay for their services from the BMA.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was glad that former Bangkok governor and a deputy party leader Apirak Kosayodhin, who was acquitted by the court’s ruling, would return to political work, without any distraction.

250 Rohingya men swim ashore in Satun
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Some 250 Rohingya men aged 15-40 swam ashore in Satun’s Thung Wa district yesterday morning after their boat was hit by a monsoon storm and their 15-day supply of food ran out.

Two of the Rohingya men were seriously ill and reportedly remained on the boat.

They were taken to a public park in Tambon Khon Khlan, where locals provided them with food and basic medicines, while police and district officials conducted an inspection. An initial probe found that the men left Myanmar in the boat on August 26 bound for Malaysia. Nine days later, their supply of food and water ran out, while the boat was hit by monsoon weather, causing them to drift off course. The Rohingya told police that two men died during the journey and the bodies were buried at sea. After they spotted the coast of Satun they swam to shore to survive. The migrants were kept at the park, pending further action by Internal Security Operations Command officials.

5 shot dead in Pattani attack
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Five police officers working for an anti-smuggling unit were killed in Pattani yesterday when their vehicle was attacked by a group of gunmen.

Among the dead were a police major and a police lieutenant.

The attack, carried out by five or six armed men, took place on a rural road in the southern border province’s Thung Yang Daeng district, according to Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the Forward Command of Internal Security Operation Command’s Region 4 unit in the South.

He identified the slain policemen as Pol Major Santichai Sartpradit, Pol Lieutenant Anawil Akunsada, Pol Senior Sgt-Major Masuding Meesa, Pol Sgt-Major Maroning Yuso and Pol Sgt-Major Sompote Somprasong.

They worked for an oil-smuggling suppression team attached to the Police Operation Centre in the Southern Border Provinces. The policemen were on a mission to collect information on oil smuggling, one of the main illicit activities in the restive border region.

The bodies of four of the policemen were found lying outside their pickup truck while the other body was found inside the vehicle, according to Pol Colonel Kowit Ratanachote, superintendent of Pattani’s Thung Yang Daeng district station, which is investigating the multiple killings. He said all five officers were in plain clothes, and their vehicle had a Bangkok licence plate.

Police arriving at the scene found that the slain officers’ vehicle was ransacked and their weapons and body-armour vests had been stolen.

Isoc’s Pramote yesterday said the latest incident indicated there was a connection between the violence in the border region and the underground trade in drugs, smuggled petrol and other contraband.

Meanwhile in Yala, another southern border province, a school was ordered closed for three days from yesterday to tomorrow following an explosion on Tuesday that killed two soldier guards and injured two other people.

An executive of Kanarassadorn Bamrung 2 School said yesterday that the school would be reopened on Monday.
< — Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Some Covid-19 restrictions relaxed across Thailand, fewer “dark red” provinces

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/PR Thai Government

The Thai government has relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions across the country, while downgrading the risk level of a number of provinces. The number of provinces designated as “strictly controlled” areas, or “dark red” zones, has been reduced from 6 to 4. They are Bangkok and the central provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

So, what, if anything, has changed where you are? Below is a summary of the situation across the country, courtesy of TAT News.

The “red zone” or “maximum control” areas now consist of the following 17 provinces:

Central Thailand: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, and Samut Sakhon

Eastern Thailand: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong

Northern Thailand: Tak

Southern Thailand: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Ranong, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Yala.

There are now 56 provinces designated as “orange” or “controlled areas”, up from 26. They are as follows:

Central Thailand: Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri

Eastern Thailand: Chanthaburi, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, and Trat

Northern Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Nakhon Sawan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and Uttaradit

North-Eastern Thailand: Amnat Charoen, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Yasothon

Southern Thailand: Chumphon, Krabi, Pattani, Phang Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Satun, and Trang.

Restaurants across the country can now resume in-house dining, with various restrictions based on their risk status. In the dark red zones, dining in is permitted until 9pm, with take away service allowed until 11pm. In red zones, dining in has been extended to 11pm. In orange zones, dining-in hours can return to normal. Of note, however, is that the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in restaurants remains in force across the country.

All other disease prevention measures remain in place, including mandatory mask-wearing outside of the home and the closure of “high risk” venues such as nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, and massage parlours. Department stores, shopping malls and community malls must close by 9pm and refrain from holding promotional activities.

In dark red zones, there is a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, with this number extended to 50 people in red and orange zones. In Phuket, an orange zone, officials have stipulated a ban on people visiting each other’s homes, with only those residing at a property permitted to be there.

In dark red and red provinces, convenience stores and markets can only open between 4am and 11pm, while they can return to normal operating hours in orange zones. In addition, people in dark red zones are urged to cancel interprovincial travel or to submit to strict health screening. Businesses in the private sector are asked to allow employees work from home if possible.

SOURCE: TAT News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths

Tim Newton

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Today the public health department has reported 3,394 new cases and 29 new Covid-related deaths. 1,498 of today’s cases come from Thailand’s prisons (more below). Taking the shameful inmate toll out of the equation and the trend is still steady with around 2,000 – 2,500 new cases each day over the past 3 weeks across Thailand.

Around the world the trends for new infections and deaths are starting to fall quite quickly.

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths | News by Thaiger

• Roll up, roll up your sleeves. But the Thai PM says… hold on! PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has poured cold water on walk-in vaccination centres for Covid vaccinations. In the past week the public health department has been rushing to set up private vaccination locations around the country to hasten the roll out of vaccines for the first public vaccine category next month.

PM Prayut told a cabinet meeting yesterday he didn’t prefer the idea of the walk-in centres (Central Lad Phrao was already to open as yesterday) because “people would turn up in droves causing chaos”. He was particularly worried about centre around Bangkok where there is a population of 8 million+

The PM has asked that the Mor Prom app is working properly with registrations preferred so the Government can monitor the demand and act accordingly. The government says they’re working on an English, and other languages, version of Mor Prom to open registration for non-Thais soon.

• The Department of Corrections reports that there are now 11,670 prisoners infected with Covid in 13 prisons across Thailand.

• A major Japanese medical association is calling on Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Games are set to start on July 23.

The appeal, made in a letter to Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and comes amid concerns that the health-care system in Asia’s second-largest economy cannot accommodate both the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media while fighting yet another spike in coronavirus infections.

• The Chon Buri (including Pattaya) public health officials announced 39 new and confirmed cases of Covid and 1 more death today. According to The Pattaya News, “officials are asking for the public to remain working from home if possible and especially to avoid small social gatherings with people who are not members of your own household until the situation improves”.

As usual we will have an update of all the provincial totals this afternoon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | FRB

 

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Pattaya

20 people arrested at Pattaya restaurant for allegedly violating alcohol ban

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Bence Boros for Unsplash

Police in Pattaya arrested 20 people last night at a local restaurant where alcohol was reportedly being sold. While Chon Buri recently eased disease control restrictions, now allowing restaurants in the province to offer dine-in services again, alcohol sales and consumption at restaurants are still prohibited.

Saewana restaurant was raided at around 11pm last night by officers from Pattaya and the Banglamung district station. Alcohol was served in glasses and the bottles were hidden, police say.

Pattaya News says all 20 people at the restaurant were arrested, including the owner. They face charges for allegedly violating the provincial disease control order. Those who violate the Emergency Decree could face a hefty fine or even imprisonment.

A police officer who spoke to a Pattaya News reporter said that there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption at restaurants as the policy has been made clear to the public.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

 

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