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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Rape victims silenced by state payouts; Govt to hunt down Vendetta Facebook attackers; Bang Fai rocket kills 2

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

Rape victims in Deep South silenced by state payouts: Angkhana
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Angkhana Neelaphaijit, a leading rights advocate for Thai Muslims, has voiced concern over continued sexual assaults against Muslim women by security officials stationed in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

The widow of abducted lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, who has been providing legal assistance to Muslim suspects in the three southern border provinces, voiced concerns during an address at a press conference by Amnesty International to launch their annual report on Thursday.

She said women raped or sexually assaulted by soldiers were compensated with sums of up to Bt200,000 and forced not to reveal the matter – or forced to marry the soldiers, who then escaped prosecution.

“None of the security officials who committed human rights violations have been prosecuted or faced criminal action,’ she said.

When these soldiers completed their mission and were transferred out of the restive area, the Muslim women had to move with their husbands. “But most of the marriages end in divorce because the women cannot adapt to a culture and society they are unfamiliar with,’ she said.

The youngest Muslim girl found to have been raped and made pregnant was a 10-year-old from Yala, she added.

Although the number of human rights violations involving torture, abduction and murder have subsided, summary executions are on the rise including the murder of suspects acquitted by the courts. Locals have lost faith in the justice system because investigators cannot find enough evidence to prosecute suspects, resulting in them being acquitted.

Angkhana said the government had won praise for its rehabilitation programmes and giving compensation to people abused by state officials, but she questioned the mindset that money could replace justice. “Money cannot compensate human value and dignity. A society that lacks justice will never achieve peace.”

She said the government had injected a huge amount of development funding into the area, but had failed to distribute the funds for the purpose of human resource development. She said the funds ended up in the hands of local leaders. This made people wonder if the government was only using the money to gain their support.

The government’s plan to bring peace to the Deep South was full of holes because it did not include a process for finding out the truth and providing justice to victims. The major problem was, in fact, a structural one. “Thai society is in dire need of police, military and justice reforms,’ she said.

Angkhana also voiced concern about the country’s lack of legislation on abduction and forced disappearances, which have deprived victims of justice and legal protection.

The government, she said, had resorted to forced disappearances to get rid of political opponents, labour leaders and activists. She said this had been going on since 1947, with the disappearance of prominent figures like Tiang Sirikhan, Porn Malithong, Thanong Pho-arn and her husband Somchai – the only disappearance in which a victim’s family had been able to get the matter to court.

Because the country lacked laws on abduction and forced disappearance, the Appeals Court refused to allow her and her husband’s family to lodge a case as joint plaintiffs.

“Key evidence in the case was dismissed because suspects were police or law enforcers. It is therefore impossible that we can expect fair justice,’ she said.

Information compiled by the Justice for Peace Foundation on 40 forced disappearances, found that 94 per cent of the “disappeared” were men and 86 per cent were ethnic minorities such as Thai Malay men. The foundation says the government’s use of military force in the South and the ‘War on drugs’ were state policies that led to forced disappearances.

During the Thaksin regime in 2003, almost 3,000 people were killed in the ‘War on drugs’. There were only two instances in which relatives were able to bring the cases to trial.

Govt threatens action against masked FB users
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Pheu Thai Party threatened Sunday to trace and take legal action against Facebook users for attacking the government and former prime minister and de-facto party leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said he and party legal experts would meet today to discuss legal action against the Facebook users, who use the white Guy Fawkes mask from the Hollywood movie V for Vendetta as their profile photo.

Prompong said the government believed the group belonged to the same team that defaced the PM’s Office website recently with derogatory messages.

On Saturday, the FB users posted a message that said: “The people’s army has awakened. We pronounce here that we will bring down and eradicate the Thaksin regime from Thailand.”

This message was posted repeatedly on websites of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the Facebook pages of Thaksin, his sister PM Yingluck Shinawatra, his son Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra, and the Government House website Thai Khu Fah.

Two die as errant festival rocket engulfs car in ball of flames
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Two people were killed yesterday after a “Bang Fai” rocket failed to properly take off, dropping instead onto a car in the Wat That community of Nong Khai’s Mueang district, police said.

Sangium Sonthirat, 41, died in the car, which was immediately engulfed in flames, while Anuwat Pinthuwong, 47 – the car owner – died on his way to hospital. The two were friends.

Police said the firework, which was detonated by an electrical current, was found to have been mistakenly launched without its guidance system after the person responsible for launching the rocket forgot to include it in the rocket’s launch set up.

As a result, the rocket went off in the wrong direction and hit Anuwat’s car. At the time of the accident, he was trying to find a parking space so that he could attend the traditional Bang Fai rocket event.

On contact with the car, the rocket exploded, engulfing the car in flames in a matter of seconds. Onlookers rushed to help pull Anuwat from the blaze, but not before he suffered first degree burns. He died before reaching the hospital.

The Wat That community annually holds their Bang Fai merit making ceremony with a rocket and firework competition from May 25-29 – during which 250 rockets are launched into the sky.

After the accident, the event was cancelled. Police are now investigating the accident to find out who is responsible.

An official said people who joined the rocket competition were required to pay Bt1,000 for insurance in case of accidents. Organisers of the event were expected to collect a total of Bt250,000 in insurance payments.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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