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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protests disrupt poll registrations; Red Shirts say dump Yingluck; Baht lowest in four years

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protests disrupt poll registrations; Red Shirts say dump Yingluck; Baht lowest in four years | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Protesters disrupt poll registration
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Anti-government protesters yesterday managed to interrupt the first day of candidate registration for the February 2 election, which demonstrators have vowed to disrupt as they push for national reform by a people’s council.

Hundreds of protesters began to besiege the Thai-Japanese Sports Stadium, the candidacy registration venue in Din Daeng area, on Sunday night. They blocked six gates to the stadium.

The process of party-list candidate registration had yet to be completed, election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said at a press conference along with his four commission colleagues after the blockade by protesters.

Somchai said all submitted documents needed to be verified, and Election Commission (EC) members had not endorsed the registration, plus political parties had yet to make registration payments.

However, the EC announced that 34 political parties were regarded as submitting their party-list applications before 8:30 am on the first day for registration. They were all eligible for lot drawing to allocate party-list numbers.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said representatives from nine parties managed to enter the compound, including the ruling Pheu Thai Party and its coalition Chart Thai Pattana, and Chart Pattana Party, because they arrived early at 3-4am.

He said 24 other parties could not reach the venue and they filed complaints at Din Daeng police Station to notify their intention to contest in the party-list election, while another party filed a complaint at the Police’s Crime Suppression Division. Even the five commissioners could not enter the compound.

“We closely monitored the situation. We tried to get into the building but they told us that no guarantee for safety so we decided not to walk through the crowd,” Supachai said.

Somchai reaffirmed the EC would neither move registration to another venue nor extend the registration period as scheduled for registration of party-list candidates, currently due to end on Friday, at the stadium.

Somchai said the EC would meet every day to evaluate the situation and set a date for the draw, which will be conducted before all political parties and the media.

Meanwhile, People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban has a plan to prolong the anti-government rally well after New Year’s Day and possibly until the election day, according to a source from the PDRC, who asked not to be named. They would celebrate the season at the Democracy Monument, the source said.

Suthep’s strategies would include instigation of chaos to create the picture of a failed state, the source alleged.

On Sunday night, EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong sent a letter to inform political parties that if their representatives arrived and could not enter the venue to register party-list candidates by 8.30am yesterday, they should file complaints at Din Daeng police station or the Crime Suppression Division to be entitled for the draw for election numbers.

Puchong said the draw had to be held at the stadium unless there was a violence incident. The EC could announce it was shifting to another venue. However, as a secretary general of the EC, he had yet to file complaints against the protesters for obstructing the candidacy registration, as he needed solid evidence to prove that.

Chart Thai Pattana candidate Somsak Prissananantakul told TNN news channel that the chaos at the registration site was a new phenomenon in Thai political history. It was the first time that candidates faced difficulty in registering. He voiced concern that constituency candidates scheduled to register on from December 28-January 1 would give up, if they feared of their security.

A number of the protesters at the stadium later left to surround Din Daeng police after hearing that political parties went to file complaints at the police station.

Many media personnel were also prevented from getting in or out of the stadium after 6am. About 40 were eventually able to leave at about 2pm and the rest released at 4.30pm.

After the close of registration yesterday, Chumpon Junsai, a PDRC leader, told the protesters to move from Din Daeng police station to continue to surround the Thai-Japanese stadium.

People convicted of hampering the registration of political party candidates face up to five years in jail or a fine up to Bt10,000, Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) spokesman Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo said yesterday. He said people who obstruct EC officials from carrying out their duty would face up to two years in jail and a Bt40,000 fine and those block MP candidates would be committing an offence against others’ liberty. That was a violation of Article 309 of the criminal code.

Army deputy spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree said Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha issued an instruction to deploy 390 military officials to keep the peace at the Thai-Japanese centre since Sunday night at the request of CAPO after yesterday’s dramas.

Red shirts not in favour of Yingluck as No 1
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Politicians linked to the red shirts and others in the ruling Pheu Thai Party have opposed its nomination of Yingluck Shinawatra as its number 1 candidate to be the next prime minister, according to party sources.

Pheu Thai red-shirt politicians are worried that a candidate from the Shinawatra family, which has come under heavy criticism in the ongoing political crisis, would give the party’s political enemies an edge, the sources said. “The opposite side is trying to corner the government. If Pheu Thai still nominates people from the Shinawatra family [for the party-list election], the government’s enemies will have an advantage,” a source said.

Pheu Thai has revealed its party-list candidates for the February 2 election, with Yingluck, the caretaker prime minister and defence minister, at number 1 and former premier Somchai Wongsawat number 2. Somchai’s wife Yaowapa is also from the Shinawatra family.

Red-shirt politicians suggested that to help reduce the pressure Pheu Thai is facing, politicians with a good image, such as Phongthep Thepkanjana and Chadchart Sittipunt, should become the party’s number top candidates to be the next prime minister, the source said.

The source said that according to the caretaker PM’s proposal, a post-election government should implement political reform for one and a half to two years before dissolving the House and calling a new election. “The new government should be an ad-hoc one and there should be no one from the Shinawatra family in the Cabinet,” the source said.

However, Pheu Thai had still nominated Yingluck and Somchai as its top two candidates for the premiership. This disappointed red-shirt politicians who have threatened to withdraw support for the party, the sources said.

Meanwhile, opposition politicians said yesterday that Pheu Thai may viewed Yingluck as its best candidate.

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck have been criticised by many residents in Bangkok after the House passed the controversial amnesty bill aimed at absolving politicians convicted of corruption and perpetrators of severe crimes such as murder and arson. However, it was believed that the Shinawatras were still popular i

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand beaches may limit visitors until Covid-19 vaccine is available | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Merve Selcuk Simsek

Beaches and national parks might not fully open to international tourists until a Covid-19 vaccine is available. 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 is out.

Thailand’s borders won’t fully reopen to international tourists until a vaccine is widely available to the public, according to Tourism Council of Thailand president Chairat Trirattanajarasporn. 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.”

The new Special Tourist Visa is an effort intended to help revive Thailand’s tourism industry which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bloomberg, the sector makes but about a fifth of the nation’s economy. Last year, the tourism industry generated 1.9 trillion baht with about 40 million foreign visitors. With travel restrictions in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chairat predicts tourism revenue will drop 82.6% to 336.5 billion baht by the end of the year.

“Businesses that rely on foreign tourists, especially in Phuket, Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, will continue to close in the coming months because there would only be a small group of people coming in after the reopening.”

SOURCE: Bloomberg

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30

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Thailand News Today | Phuket re-opens, TripAdvisor review saga, Samut Prakhan chem spill | Sept 30 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand. Updates and all the latest information from thethaiger.com.

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme will land in Phuket on October 8.

The flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

The resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine.

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

The Education Minister is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country.

34 out of 42 of the schools have had complaints filed against them. Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. The Thonburi school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers

The man who wrote the bad reviews for Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort has a criminal record

In the ongoing stoush between the American, Wesley Barnes, and Koh Chang’s Sea View Resort, it’s now been revealed that Mr Barnes has been of interest to the US judicial system in the past, being accused of firing a weapon at a bar in Jackson County, Missouri.

Wesley Barnes, who has been working in Thailand as a teacher, posted a number of negative reviews on different platforms, including Trip Advisor, allegedly accusing the Koh Chang resort of “modern day slavery”, amongst other complaints. He stayed at the resort in June this year.

But this isn’t the first time Mr Barnes has come to the attention of police.

In the US there was an incident which is now public record. There was an official police complaint against the 34 year old in 2017. He was accused of firing a weapon near Waldo Bar, and later at a convenience store, told people he was a federal agent prior to the initial incident.

Of course the man’s criminal record doesn’t prevent him from posting negative reviews but provides just a little more context to the ongoing saga between the hotel and Mr Barnes.

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government.

While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough “headaches” with one of his coalition partners.

Meanwhile Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation. Under the current constitution the Thai PM is elected by a parliamentary majority, and not automatically coming from the leader of the party with the most number of votes. But a coalition between Prayut and Pheu Thai does seem, at face value, extremely unlikely.

Around 10 villagers hospitalised after chemical spill in Samut Prakan

Around 10 people were hospitalised after a chemical tank spilled at a village in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok.

Those near the spill reported feeling nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Officials do not known what chemical was in the tank.

The 1 metre tank had been taken into the forest by 2 employees at a second hand shop who hoped they could take it apart and sell the scrap metal. The 2 employees fainted when the tank spilled. Trees and grass in a 100 metre radius of the chemical spill also died.

The chemical let off a strong odour and Thai media says the fumes spread to a nearby village. Those at the second hand shop, close by to the chemical spill, started to feel nauseous and some had trouble breathing. Some people reported skin rashes after the incident. Around 10 villagers, including children, were sent to hospital.

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Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand farmers hope to grow and export cannabis by next year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Esteban Lopez

Under a proposed law, Thailand farmers would be allowed to grow cannabis and hemp for export without going through cannabis certified universities or medical institutes. The National Farmers Council president Praphat Panyachatrak says he hopes the new law will be in place by next year. The legislation is still being reviewed by the Public Health Ministry and National Legislative Assembly, but Praphat says he expects an announcement will be made soon.

Thailand’s recent rush to decriminalise and even legalise marijuana follows the Bhumjaithai Party joining the government coalition in 2019, headed by current Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. His elected MPs provide essential votes for the fragile coalition. His party ran on a platform of legalising marijuana.

Thailand has been gearing up for the global cannabis trade with talk of classifying medical cannabis as an economic crop. The classification would allow the plant to be exported to other countries. The government has also talked about adding a variety of cannabis cultivars to keep up with the demanding cannabis industry.

The National Farmers Council has been advocating for the cultivation of cannabis and Praphat says the new law will make it easier for farmers to grow the plant. He adds that farmers would be able to get a permit to grow cannabis as soon as they got an order from overseas.

Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Thailand and is considered a Category 5 narcotic. Those charged with distributing cannabis face 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine from 40,000 baht to 200,000 baht. Those caught distributing over 10 kilograms of cannabis face up to 15 years in prison and a fine from 200,000 baht to 1,500,000 baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand | Chiang Rai Times

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