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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Refugee camp fire kills 30; SET plunges; Nationwide alcohol ban mulled for Songkran

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Refugee camp fire kills 30; SET plunges; Nationwide alcohol ban mulled for Songkran | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Fire kills 30 at Mae Hong Son refugee camp

The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A blaze raged through a refugee camp in the northern Mae Hong Son province on Friday evening, leaving at least 30 people dead and dozens others injured.

About 100 houses in the Baan Mae Surin refugee camp, located in Khun Yuam district, were destroyed in the fire. There are more than 3,500 residents in the camp, most of them Karen refugees from Myanmar. The fire started at about 4 pm and it took fire-fighters more than two hours to control the blaze. There were conflicting reports involving the cause of the fire. Some sources said it was caused by a forest fire while others blamed careless cooking by some camp residents.

Yingluck plays down replacement fears
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: In In response to speculation that her older sister might replace her, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday only frowned, saying she was far too busy to pay attention to such rumours.

“It is not that easy to replace a prime minister, because it is the people’s mandate. I have been entrusted to do this job and am backed by a majority vote under democratic rule,” she said.

The prime minister is currently on an official visit to New Zealand.

Yingluck said people could and would render their judgement on her leadership, adding that though she is not that good at promoting herself, her performance will speak for itself.

“I may fumble with my words when making a speech, but please don’t try to fault me, because I speak from my heart,” she said.

Speculation that fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra might replace Yingluck with his other sister was bolstered by last week’s resignation of Pheu Thai Chiang Mai MP Kasem Nimmolrat.

The ruling-Pheu Thai Party’s executive committee later decided to field Yaowapa Wongsawat in a by-election scheduled for next month. Opposition politicians then started saying that Yaowapa might replace Yingluck as government head, but Thaksin rejected this speculation as groundless.

The Constitution requires the prime minister to be an MP.

The inconsistencies in her asset declaration with the National Anti-Corruption Commission and her government’s decision to issue a new passport for Thaksin are the two issues that have put Yingluck in a hot seat – leading to speculation that her sister is being groomed to take over.

However, a survey in Bangkok and adjacent provinces found that most people don’t believe Yaowapa will replace Yingluck.

About two in five of the 1,123 respondents said they wanted a limited change in the Cabinet line-up, while three in 10 supported a major reshuffle.

Some two in five respondents said they wanted to see new faces in the Economic Ministry, while more than half of the respondents said they did not see the coalition getting any stronger if Yaowapa’s Matchima faction joined the government.

The survey was conducted and released yesterday by Bangkok University.

SET nosedives 4% on Cyprus, political concerns
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Thai bourse plunged steeply yesterday due to the effects of the Cypriot bail-out and banking crisis, as well as domestic hiccups, but managed to show signs of resilience with daily turnover swelling to Bt101.36 billion – the highest in its 39-year history.

It easily surpassed the previous record of Bt81.27 billion, registered on January 10.

“Looking forward, we remain optimistic of the long-term prospects for the Thai market,” said Chanpen Sirithanarattanakul, head of research at DBS Vickers Securities (Thailand). “At current levels, the market is trading at 2013 PE [price-earnings ratio] of 13.6 times, which is still attractive given strong projected earnings growth of 17.4 per cent for this year.”

DBS expects the index to rise to 1,688 points in the next 12 months. Despite the 3.30-per-cent loss yesterday, the target remains intact.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index lost 50.55 points yesterday to close at 1,478.97 points, narrowing the nearly 4-per-cent loss seen in the morning session.

Tisco Securities dubbed yesterday’s slump part of a correction following the sharp spike in the index in recent weeks. It foresees the correction lasting three to four weeks, until after the Songkran Festival, pending clarification of the Bt2-trillion infrastructure borrowing bill and the amnesty bill. The borrowing bill is slated for House debate on March 28-29.

SET president Charamporn Jotikasthira said at a hastily called press conference yesterday that the market fall serves as a reminder to all investors that profits and losses are intertwined when it comes to stock investment. “The volume at Bt100 billion does not reflect speculation. It reflects the timing that some investors want to unload shares, particularly shares of highly-speculated stocks. Overall, the index was down by only 3 per cent, but highly-speculated stocks were down by 9 per cent,” Charamporn said. In particular, he is concerned about individual investors.

“It’s just a market correction,” echoed Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong. “Profit taking can occur after sustained increases. It’s not something to panic about,” he said, pointing out that there has been no change in the country’s economic fundamentals.

The Thai bourse, experiencing its biggest weekly slump since the global financial crisis of 2008, joined some regional markets in showing losses. European markets also opened with losses yesterday as concerns about Cyprus and the euro zone escalated.

While foreign investors appear to have become more risk-averse, Thailand remains attractive to foreign investors. According to Bloomberg and Tisco Research, this month through Thursday, foreign inflows to the stock market reached US$167 million (Bt4.8 billion). They remained net-buyers yesterday, but with a small net-buy position of Bt73.55 million.

Aside from the Cypriot crisis, domestically, unfavourable factors prevailed. Investors were concerned that the bourse may increase margin requirements on equity trading. The exchange may increase the level of collateral that customers must maintain in their trading accounts to 20 per cent of their credit line, from 15 per cent. There were also fears that the Bank of Thailand will launch capital control measures to stem the baht’s appreciation, which could encourage outflows from the country. The baht yesterday weakened slightly against the US dollar to 29.30 in the afternoon, after touching 29.08 on Wednesday, the strongest level since a devaluation sparked the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

“I can assure that the market slump has nothing to do with investor fears that the central bank would implement capital controls,” said Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul. “It has nothing to do with capital inflows, as most of the inflows are channelled to the bond market. In the past two months, foreign capital inflow to the stock market has been low. The sharp fall followed sharp spikes, which led to warnings against investment in some stocks.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand News Today | STV updates, fuel tanker explodes, 19 dead in Viet typhoon | October 29

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Thailand News Today | STV updates, fuel tanker explodes, 19 dead in Viet typhoon | October 29 | The Thaiger

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“Pattaya Model” to focus on Special Tourist Visa visitors from China and Russia

Firstly the Phuket Model, now the Pattaya Model as the eastern seaboard city wants to cash in on the new Special Tourist Visa scheme to help boost the local economy.

City officials say they’ll focus on drawing in Chinese and Russian tourists on the new long stay visa. The city mayor says that last year, there were 3 million Chinese tourists visiting Pattaya, followed by Russian tourists with 1.1 million.

Potential travellers would be from cities in Russia and China that are considered to be at a low risk for Covid-19. The mayor mentioned St. Petersburg in Russia and Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen in China.

Along with accommodating tourists under the Special Tourist Visa, the mayor says they are planning for other travellers that are approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The nearest international airport to Pattaya, U-Tapao, remains closed to international traffic.

Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa

A special tourist visa updates and it seems the Thai government is opening up categories that would be able to apply for the new STV.

Now cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to dock in Thailand and visitors will be allowed disembark under the STV. The new measure will be made official in the next 30 days.

Captains, crew and passengers travelling from countries considered at low risk will be able to dock in Thailand and enter the country, of course after doing their 14 day quarantine and all the other STV paperwork.

Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram

A fuel tanker has exploded after a collision with a trailer truck, causing both vehicles to be engulfed in flames in a series of explosions in Buri Ram, north east Thailand.

Fuel from the 40,000-litre tank spilled out onto the road, spreading about 1 kilometre to nearby homes and into the sewers. 20 cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks parked along the road were damaged or destroyed in the conflagration. Many people were injured, currently we don’t don’t have the latest toll.

The fuel tanker truck and the trailer truck collided on Highway 24. The drivers were able to flee before the first explosion.

50 fire engines responded to the fire and the road was closed off for a radius of 5 kilometres. It took firefighters more than 4 hours to extinguish the fire.

Court bans Thailand’s first transgender MP over alleged media interests

An MP from the Move Forward Party, one of the opposition parties, has been banned and could face jail time after the Constitutional Court found the MP guilty of violating a law prohibiting media shareholdings for MPs.

57 other MPs were acquitted over the same offence.

Tanwarin is Thailand’s first ever openly transgender MP in the House of Representatives and an advocate for LGBTQ rights. The MP is also a former actor and filmmaker. The Court looked into lists of shareholders and found “irregularities,” saying information had been fabricated to make it appear that she wasn’t associated with the media companies.

The Election Commission may also decide to press charges on Tanwarin. If the commission finds her guilty of breaking the law on elections, the MP could face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a 20,000 baht fine and a ban from taking part in elections for 20 years.

Thanathorn and 4 others charged over Pathumwan flash rally

Meanwhile, the Pathumwan Municipal Court has accepted for trial the prosecutors’ indictment of Thanathorn, the former Future Forward leader, and four others relating to a flash protest rally on the Pathumwan skywalk last year.

All five were present at the court today. The indictment concerns their rally on the elevated BTS walkway at Pathumwan intersection on December 14 last year.

Prosecutors charged them with organising the rally without giving prior notice, organising a rally that affected train services, organising a rally that blocked people from using a public place, using loudspeakers without permission, rallying within a 150 metre radius of a palace, and resisting officials’ orders to stop the rally.

19 dead, 40 injured, many missing in Vietnam typhoon

Vietnam deployed soldiers and heavy machinery to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the region in decades.

Landslides, which hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam on Wednesday, killed at least 13. Rescue efforts are being hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm.

The Vietnamese government said Typhoon Molave had left millions of people without electricity and damaged at least 56,000 houses.

26 fishermen also remain missing after their boats sank when trying to return to shore on Tuesday. Molave is moving westward through Laos now and will dump rain in northeastern Thailand into the weekend.

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Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Josiah Weiss

Cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to dock in Thailand and visitors will be allowed disembark under the Special Tourist Visa. The new measure hasn’t been made official yet, but it will go into effect 30 days after it’s published in the Royal Gazette.

The Cabinet approved the new guidelines yesterday which allows captains, crew and passengers travelling from countries considered at low risk for spreading Covid-19 to dock in Thailand and enter the country, according to deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul.

Visitors must go through a 14 day quarantine. Those on yachts will quarantine onboard before stepping onto Thai soil, according to the Bangkok Post. They must also have Covid-19 health insurance of $100,000 USD as well as local health and accident insurance. Proof of advance payment for anchoring the liner will also have to be provided.

The Special Tourist Visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to around 9 months. So far, only 2 flights of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa have arrived after a 7 month ban on international tourists.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram

Caitlin Ashworth

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Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

A fuel tanker has exploded after a collision with a trailer truck, causing both vehicles to be engulfed in flames in a series of explosions. Fuel from the 40,000-litre tank spilled out onto the road, spreading about 1 kilometre to nearby homes and into the sewers. People trying to douse the spreading flames found they were just pushing the flaming fuel further down the road, 20 cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks parked along the road were damaged or destroyed in the fire. Many people were injured, but there is no exact count.

The fuel tanker truck and the trailer truck collided on Highway 24 in the Isaan province Buri Ram. The drivers were able to flee before the first explosion. There were a series of explosions as the fuel spread and nearby residents fled their homes. People tried to put the flames out with tap water, but fire continued to spread.

50 fire engines responded to the fire and the road was closed off for a radius of 5 kilometres. It took firefighters more than 4 hours to extinguish the fire. The oil company was called to safely unload 30,000 litres of fuel that was left in the tanker.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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