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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Prem mediator plan falters; Songkran toll hits 204; Police chief wants proactive officers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Toll hits 204 as revellers start returning
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: As large numbers of people yesterday started to travel back to work from the Songkran holidays – and many others continued to enjoy water splashing in their home towns – the Road Safety Centre said the first four days of Songkran had seen 2,027 road accidents, which claimed 204 lives and injured 2,142 people. Chaiyaphum remained the only province with no road accidents this Songkran. Caretaker Deputy Education Minister Sermsak Pongpanit, in his capacity as the centre’s chairman, announced yesterday that the first four days of Songkran (April 11-14) saw the number of accidents and injuries rise by 130 and 122, respectively, from last year, while the number of deaths fell by 15.

Nakhon Ratchasima has seen the most deaths (11), while Nakhon Si Thammarat has seen the most accidents (75) and the most injuries (82). So far, 12 provinces have seen no road fatalities – Mae Hong Son, Chaiyaphum, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Chai Nat, Nakhon Nayok, Phetchaburi, Lop Buri, Angthong, Narathiwat, Phang Nga and Yala.

On Monday alone, there were 488 accidents killing 43 people and injuring 502 others, Sermsak said. Drunk driving remains the major cause, at 43.03 per cent, followed by speeding at 22.34 per cent, he said. Most accidents involved motorcycles (78.23 per cent), followed by pickup trucks (12.30 per cent). Officials at 2,274 checkpoints arrested and fined 111,797 traffic-law violators, most of whom were bikers failing to wear helmets (36,511 cases) and those failing to present a driver’s licence (33,310 cases).

Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Chatchai Phormlert said the number of road-accident deaths had dropped significantly from the previous Songkran thanks to cooperation from all sides. He urged travellers to plan their return journeys well, to rest fully, and to check the condition of their vehicles thoroughly before travelling. He urged drivers to pull over and rest every two hours or every 150 kilometres.

In a separate event, Public Health permanent secretary Narong Sahamethaphat urged youngsters not to make prank calls to the ministry’s 1669 hotline, as doing so could have deadly consequences, by blocking access to callers in need of life-saving help. Narong, who inspected a Nakhon Sawan hospital and an Ayutthaya hospital to check their emergency medical-care preparedness, said there were 40-50 prank calls a day, which was about 50 per cent of all calls made daily to the hotline.

Meanwhile, the Phuket land-transport office imposed a 30-day suspension of driver’s licences for public-transport drivers who test positive for drugs, and will fine such drivers’ companies Bt5,000. The office’s expert official,

Jaturong Kaewkasi, said the office, police and provincial officials had set up checkpoints to conduct urine tests for drug abuse by public-transport drivers. From April 11-14, they imposed such punishments on two bus drivers and one van driver who tested positive for drugs. This was a hefty drop from the previous Songkran’s 27 cases.

In related news, a Loei-Nakhon Ratchasima-Rayong bus overturned yesterday in Sara Buri’s Kaeng Khoi district resulting in 38 injuries – one of them serious. The bus crashed into a roadside home and an electric pole, causing a blackout in the area. The unnamed bus driver initially told police that he lost control of the vehicle while trying to handle a curve on a slippery road amid rainfall.

Gen Prem ‘mediator’ plan falters
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A proposal to have Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda take on a mediator’s role in order to resolve the political impasse may not get off the ground due to lukewarm support.

A close aide yesterday quoted General Prem as saying that the proposal to have him act as a mediator to resolve the political crisis was born of good intentions.

Lt Gen Pitsanu Phuttha-wong, chief of the Office of the General Prem Tinsulanonda Statesman Foundation, said Prem had learned about the proposal from the media, but did not make any specific comments on the issue. However, the aide said, the statesman believes that the group proposing the idea – like other groups – has good intentions and hopes to bring peace to the country.

A group of former senior bureaucrats called Rattha Bukkon or Man of the State, led by former supreme commander Saiyud Kerdphol, proposed that talks be brokered between leaders in all sectors to draft a covenant under Royal command on how the country should be ruled at times of crisis.

Saiyud stressed that the person playing the mediator’s role could not exercise the King’s power under the Constitution’s Article 7.

Article 7 states: “Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional practice in the democratic regime of the government with the King as Head of State.”

The real intention of Saiyud’s proposal is under doubt as it could be considered unconstitutional.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday rejected the proposal, saying it appeared to offer a shortcut for certain political groups that had joined hands with old “elitists” with the intention of toppling this government and setting up a new one without listening to the public majority.

“Their real intention is crystal clear. They are no different from the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee of Suthep Thaugsuban,” Prompong said at a press conference.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, meanwhile, declined to comment on the proposal, saying he did not believe Article 7 could be applied until the country enters a political vacuum – in other words, it is not applicable for as long as a caretaker PM is in power.


Election talks

Abhisit said his party would definitely dispatch high-level representatives to discuss holding a new election with the Election Commission next Tuesday. The Democrats had earlier set conditions, saying they would only participate if the discussions were broadcast live and if Pheu Thai sent party leaders to attend.

Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said the Pheu Thai Party would have authorised officials attend the discussion and would set no conditions because it believes holding an election is the best solution for the country.

Meanwhile, Chanyuth Heng-trakul, leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) in the East, said his group was ready to offer caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra support by converging on the Constitutional Court the day it issues a verdict on the Thawil Pliensri case. In this case, Yingluck is accused of violating the Constitution in relation to the transfer of Thawil from his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council.

Yingluck has until Friday to submit her defence statement, but it is not certain if she will seek to extend the deadline.

Meanwhile, Chanyuth said his group would hold a peaceful and unarmed demonstration to protect democracy. “UDD members will pour in from across the country. Bangkok will come under siege because only 2 million protesters are needed to paralyse the capital,” he sai

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Economy

Thailand Consumer Confidence Index hits record low

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand's Consumer Confidence index slips again to below the pre-pandemic record. (via CNN)

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has reported that the Consumer Confidence Index has hit another new record low of 46.0 in April. The Covid-19 global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and consumer confidence has fallen frequently to the lowest points that it has seen since 1998.

The president of the UTTC believes that consumers generally don’t feel like there has been much of a recovery for the economy since the global pandemic began and without a stimulating event to motivate economic growth, the index is expected to continue to fall further. The university estimated that if the third wave of Covid-19 continues past the end of May the economy can expect to lose 400 to 600 billion baht.

The UTTC president stressed that the government should hasten to step up relief measures and make sure they continue relief and economic stimulus throughout the pandemic to avoid economic catastrophe. He predicted that the economy and the Consumer Confidence Index will continue on a downward slope without any hope of improvement until the vaccine rollout gets well underway towards herd immunity, and new Covid-19 infections are decreased dramatically.

Today saw another 2,101 new Covid-19 infections and 17 deaths in Thailand. Vaccination efforts are continually being stepped up, but still remain woefully slow.

The Consumer Confidence Index first started falling last year, with a drop below the previous record low in 1998 in April of 2020, when it fell to 47.2. A few months later, by July of last year, it had recovered significantly, climbing back over 50. But by March of this year, the index had fallen again to 48.5. With April’s tumble of 2.5 points, the Consumer Confidence Index pushes once again to a new record low.

SOURCE: Thai Business News

 

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Thailand

Thailand searches for cow vaccine for lumpy skin disease

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: An example of a cow with Lumpy Skin Disease. (via newindianexpress)

Move over Covid-19 there’s a new disease sweeping the country as Thailand’s cow population is afflicted with a lumpy skin disease. The Department of Livestock Development is now working on procuring vaccines from overseas manufacturers to import and treat the cattle population in Thailand. The lumpy skin is caused by pustules that are the most visible symptom, perhaps more detectable than other bovine signs such as drooling, loss of appetite and drowsiness.

The cow disease is spreading in the North, Northeast, and Central Plains area of Thailand and has been found in 18 provinces total. First identified in Roi Et, it has now spread in Chiang Rai, Kalasin, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Pathom, and Nakhon Phanom. The first case of the lumpy skin disease was reported in Don Daeng village last month and on April 9th officials reported it to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The lumpy skin disease is found in cow pens and spread through flies, ticks, and mosquitoes, but the DLD says not to panic, it is not transmissible to humans. The department is distributing important information about symptoms and how the disease spreads to breeders and farmers in the area. They’re requiring the breeders to monitor their cattle closely and have imposed measures to control the disease in heavy hit areas.

To prevent the spread of disease in livestock, traders are being requested to not buy and sell cattle within 50 km from disease-stricken regions. And for farmers caring for cattle, the DLD recommends spraying insecticide in all areas to prevent transmission via insects. Finally, in case the cattle were jealous of traveling humans, the DLD is advising farmers to prevent disease spread by isolating any new cow that comes into their farms with a 28-day bovine quarantine where they should be kept under nets to keep insects away.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Tourism

Covid-19 third wave cuts Thai domestic flights predictions by 38%

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Airports are sparse with domestic flight travel predictions down 38%. (via Snappy Goat)

The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand is predicting a 38% drop in travel by domestic flights due to the effect of the third wave of Covid-19. Aerothai is a department under the Ministry of Transport that provides aeronautical communication and air traffic control in Thailand. With Covid-19 experiencing a rapid spread beginning in April and not yet under control, infections across all of Thailand’s 77 provinces are projected to drastically hamper local travel until at least September.

The fiscal year, beginning last October, was originally predicted to have almost 519,000 domestic flight. But Aerothai has now reduced those figures down 38% to just over 323,000 flights in Thailand. The executive vice president for operations of Aerothai said that by the second half of April domestic flights had been severely reduced despite remaining relatively stable in early April.

The Civil Aviation Authority has also added increased restrictions on the way passengers are carried, adding another layer of difficulty for the domestic airlines who have slashed their schedules after having a bumper Songkran holiday period and were looking forward to better times ahead.

Flight reductions were a result of attempts to reduce and contain the spread of Covid-19 by implementing strict travel and safety measures. While domestic travel was strongly affected by Thailand’s second wave of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2021, the current wave is much worse and Aerothai predicts domestic flights will reach their lowest point by the end of May.

An expectation of recovery beginning next month hinges on international flights starting to slowly creep back into Thailand. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has loosened the restrictions for international travel in preparation for the government’s plan to relaunch the tourism industry in key hotspots of Thailand like Phuket and Koh Samui in July. Aerothai is hoping that by August domestic flights will return to the levels seen at the end of 2020 before the second wave of Covid-19, with about 1,095 daily flights.

Aerothai has been tracking flight statistics since it was founded in 1948 by a group of airlines with the approval of the Royal Thai Government. In 1963 the government took on a majority stake in the company from the founding airlines and converted it to a state enterprise operating under the Ministry of Transport.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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