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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
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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Phuket

Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today

The Thaiger

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Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | The Thaiger

Navy officers are in the process of dismantling and removing the Phuket seastead today.

About 300 navy officers are currently in the process removing the structure off the south east coast of the island. The operation is expected to be done by today, according to a spokesperson. The seastead will be kept at the Phuket Deap Sea Port as evidence in the case against the builders, Ocean Builders, and Thai/American couple who had been ‘living’ there for a short time.

The Phuket Vice Governor Supot Rodrueng Na Nongkhai says documents will be summited to the Office of Attorney General within one week.

But the company behind the project, Ocean Builders, has announced it will sue Thailand in an international court if the government removes the seastead. This legal test in a court will force the Thai Government to test its hard-line position on the seastead in an international court of law.

Speaking at a press conference at the King Prajadhipok’s Institute on friday, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said Thai officials could remove the floating structure from the seas off the Thai mainland, because its presence clearly violated Article 119 of Thailand’s Criminal Code as threatening the Kingdom’s security and sovereignty.

Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | News by The Thaiger Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | News by The Thaiger Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | News by The Thaiger  Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | News by The Thaiger Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | News by The Thaiger Phuket seastead being removing by Thai Navy today | News by The Thaiger

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Plastics

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | The Thaiger

By the end of 2019 Thailand will be free from three types of plastic – microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics.

Then by 2022 four other types of single-use plastics will also be banned – lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick; styrofoam food containers for takeaways; plastic cups and plastic straws – according to a road map approved by the Cabinet.

The Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030 also includes an ambitious plan for Thailand to use 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2027 in various forms, including turning waste into energy.

The Cabinet has acknowledged the road map and assigned the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry to formulate a draft action plan for plastic waste management, so it is in line with the 20-year national strategy.

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

The Cabinet also called for clear details on related agencies’ role in the integration of the work for managing plastic waste, which will also get huge participation from the private and business sectors. The related state agencies should create various mechanisms to propel this forward such as creating a good understanding among agencies, continuously implementing a public relations campaign via social media to achieve the set goals, the Cabinet instructed.

The work procedure must consider lifecycle plastic-waste management so steps are taken from the very start: with plastic products designed applying the “Eco Design” approach, manufacturing and post-consumption disposal which will include garbage separation, transport and storing, recycling and proper disposal.

According to the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Thais generate as much as 1.14 kilogram of garbage per head per day, contributing to the 27.04 million tonnes of waste per year.

One person uses approximately eight plastic bags a day – or 500 million plastic bags per day for the whole nation.

Most of the plastic waste ends up in the oceans, accounting for 16% of garbage in the seas.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

Infamous ‘large’ passenger dies in Koh Samui

The Thaiger

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Infamous ‘large’ passenger dies in Koh Samui | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: The Sun

A 200 kilogram tourist, who forced flight crews to wipe his bum as he moaned with pleasure in January, has died on Koh Samui.

The American, who hasn’t been named, died whilst staying on the Gulf island due to an undisclosed illness. But he has left an indelible memory in his wake.

At the same time, as the news emerged about his demise, EVA Air were putting plans in motion to ban the oversize traveller from flying with their airline ever again.

The man shocked readers is January when he was accused of forcing cabin crew to strip him in a cramped airline toilet (remember this guy weighed 200 kilograms) and wipe his bum while he “moaned with pleasure”.

The incident occurred on an EVA Air long-haul flight from LA to Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport and was covered extensively on world media.

Infamous 'large' passenger dies in Koh Samui | News by The Thaiger

A flight attendant, who on the same flight, described how the passenger boarded the plane in a wheelchair and then insisted on having three adjoining seats in economy class due to his size. He then demanded to use the plane’s business class lavatory, as he couldn’t fit into the economy toilets.

But (put down your food if eating) while in the toilet, he demanded cabin crew strip him down so he could relieve himself, saying he had an arm injury that prevented him from doing it himself.

“I told him we couldn’t help him, but he started yelling. He told me to go in there immediately and threatened to relieve himself on the floor. As the passenger’s genitals were now exposed, one of my colleagues brought a blanket, which I used to cover his modesty.”

“But he very angrily slapped my hand away, saying he didn’t want it and only wanted me to remove his underwear so he could use the toilet.”

Infamous 'large' passenger dies in Koh Samui | News by The Thaiger

The flight attendant who ‘assisted’ the man should be awarded lots of medals and a lifetime supply of latex gloves

The passenger then asked crew to wipe his bum for him leading him to groan as the chief attendant fulfilled his request while wearing three pairs of latex gloves.

“He said: ‘Oh, mmm, deeper, deeper,’ and then accused my chief attendant of not properly cleaning his backside, requesting that she do it again,” recalled the attendant, who was holding onto the passenger to keep him steady.

She said the attendant repeated the action three times before the man said, “You can pull my pants back up now.”

The two female flight attendants involved, who both said they were traumatised by the incident in January, are both on extended paid leave.

The Sun.co.uk, reporting this story, says that “Party island Ko Samui – the second largest island in Thailand – is known for its prostitution and seedy nightlife.”

Despite the source, the incident has been widely reported by ‘respectable media’ on January 20 this year, and the large man has indeed passed away on Koh Samui.

SOURCE: The Sun

Infamous 'large' passenger dies in Koh Samui | News by The Thaiger

‘The Sun’ confuses Koh Samui with Walking Street

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