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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Scuffles end meeting; Canadian picked up in penny scam; Teachers still targets; Mass Rohingya escape; Fertility rite

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

Scuffles, boos bring chaos to constitution change meeting
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont, whose nickname is “Gavel Master”, lived up to his name and used his gavel vigorously for the first time yesterday during the House-Senate joint meeting deliberating constitutional amendments. However, his gaveling failed to bring order to the chamber.

Instead, they were followed by boos and MPs standing in protest. Somsak ordered the Parliament police to remove any lawmakers who refused to sit down. Several officers surrounded his chair for security. “Anyone failing to move [the standing parliamentarians] out must face a probe,” he warned the officers. This was followed by pushing, shoving and tugging between Democrat MPs and Parliament police.

MP Kulladej Puapattanakul pushed the police and put his hand on an officer’s neck. Other officers scrambled to lock his arms while MP Thani Thueksuban tried to help him. A female MP screamed.

Somsak called a 10-minute break which lasted more than half an hour.

Before the chaos, the lawmakers were to deliberate on a charter amendment related to the election, qualification and authority of senators.

Pheu Thai MP Samart Kaew-meechai, chairman of the vetting committee, told the meeting that 202 parliamentarians had registered to speak at the plenary. Two had withdrawn while some had submitted their motions after the deadline. Meanwhile, 57 motions were deemed by his committee as against the principle of the bill approved in the first reading. He asked the meeting to consider whether the sponsors of the motions should be allowed to deliberate in the plenary.

The Democrats claimed that all had the right to speak.

Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat said he calculated the days differently from the committee, referring to the controversial closing of the meeting in the first reading.

To cut short the debate, which did not go anywhere in the morning, Somsak, who had taken the chairmanship in the afternoon, said he would allow only two representatives from the government and opposition MPs and senators to speak before voting. Following protests from the floor, he called for voting. The meeting voted 339:15 against the 57 speaking.

Democrat MP Attaporn Ponlaboot held a placard that said “Slave Parliament” in front of Somsak’s seat.

Opposition whip chief Jurin Laksanawisit said the House speaker might have violated the law as he had scheduled a second reading before the first reading was completed.

Jurin was referring to the meeting on the night of April 3 (early morning April 4) which lacked a quorum. It had agreed on a period for submitting motions of deliberation and the speaker assumed the motions must be submitted within 15 days.

Somsak called another House-Senate joint meeting on April 18 to complete the procedure, and the parliamentarians voted for the 15-day deadline schedule.

Jurin said MPs who lost the opportunity to speak had the right to petition the Constitutional Court. They included Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, Nipit and Jurin.

In the morning, Democrats and some senators opposed Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij from chairing the meeting, saying he might have a conflict of interest.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Canadian wanted in global stock scam arrested in Prachin Buri
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A Canadian was arrested in Prachin Buri yesterday morning over his alleged role in an international penny stock fraud scheme worth more than Bt4.2 billion.

Police identified the suspect as Gregory Joseph Curry, 67. The scam’s perpetrators reportedly received more than US$140 million (about Bt4.2 billion) from victims in as many as 35 countries. Of nine suspects targeted by US authorities in connection with this scam, two managed to flee to Thailand, both of whom have now been arrested.

Metropolitan Police Division 2 deputy chief Colonel Jarern Sisasalak said Curry was the second suspect arrested in Thailand in connection with the scam.

“The other one, Sandy Winick, was nabbed earlier by Special Branch police,” he said.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand news pages, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news updates.

Teachers still targets in South
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The unrest in Thailand’s deep South has taken the lives of 162 teachers during the past decade. Fresh attacks seen aimed at pressing the government to meet BRN demands

This month, one teacher has been killed and four wounded in bloody attacks in the southernmost provinces. In the most recent of these attacks, Atikom Tiwong was killed while travelling from his school to his home in Pattani’s Yarang district on Monday evening.

“The deadly attack has seriously affected the morale of local teachers,” the chairman of the Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Border Provinces, Boonsom Thongsriprai, said yesterday.

He said the incident also reflected the many problems in the southernmost region and the need to provide better protection to teachers.

“Clearly, teachers remain a prime target [for attacks],” Boonsom said.

Police said gunmen on a moving pickup opened fire on Atikom – a teacher at the Ban Prachan School – while he was riding his motorcycle back to his home. Before the gunmen fled the scene, they spread leaflets announcing the attack was carried out in retaliation against state officials. In the wake of the attack, the Ban Prachan School has suspended classes to mourn Atikom’s death and to give some time for his colleagues and students to recover from the shock.

Some 11 nearby schools have also closed down temporarily, as their teachers plan to attend Atikom’s funeral and meetings with the Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Border Provinces. Civil Society Council of Southernmost Thailand chairman Prasit Meksuwan believed the violence in the deep South had intensified lately because some insurgents were trying to pressure the Thai authorities to accept the five demands made by the BRN (Barisan Revolusi Nasional).

Since March, the BRN and Thai authorities have engaged in a peace dialogue. While the Thai authorities have pressed for an end to the violence in Thailand’s southernmost provinces, the BRN’s demands include the unconditional release of inmates arrested in security cases.

Prasit said insurgents would l

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hua Hin plans to vaccinate residents next month, reopening eyed for October

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ ศาลาว่าการกรุงเทพมหานคร

Next month, 350,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses are planned to be sent to Hua Hin to vaccinate residents and those who work in the tourism industry. As part of the Hua Hin Recharge project, the vaccinations prepares the popular beachside town in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province for the reopening to foreign tourists.

The Committee of National Tourism Policy recently approved a plan for Hua Hin similar to Phuket’s sandbox model which would allow vaccinated foreign visitors to travel to the area. The tourism committee is pushing to reopen Prachuap Khiri Khan, Bangkok, Phetchaburi and Buri Ram to vaccinated foreign tourists starting in October. The committee plans to present the proposal to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration this month.

The president of the Thai Spa Association says that if the project is approved, and goes as planned, it could generate billions of baht in revenue for Hua Hin.

“If the project goes as planned, at least 100,000 tourists should visit Hua Hin from October to December, generating revenue of over 1.2 billion baht, while some 100,000 will get their jobs back.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Hua Hin

Hua Hin to submit October re-opening plan for government approval

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr/Prince Roy

The seaside town of Hua Hin, on the Gulf of Thailand, is working on a proposal to welcome vaccinated foreign tourists from October. Krod Rojanastien, from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, says the Hua Hin Recharge campaign aims to include the resort town in the government’s re-opening plan. He says the area has already earned a reputation for wellness holidays and being a popular seaside destination just a few hours from Bangkok.

According to a Bangkok Post report, the Hua Hin Recharge campaign includes Hua Hin municipality and the district of Nong Kae, an area of around 86 square kilometres, with 182 registered hotels. Adopting similar criteria to the Phuket sandbox model, the campaign is targeting vaccinated foreigners flying into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport or by private jet to Hua Hin airport. All international visitors would be subject to a Covid-19 test on arrival and would need to download the Thailand Plus tracing app prior to being transported to their hotel.

Krod says tourism operators are hoping to offer tour packages, as well as partnering with their counterparts in places like Phuket and Pattaya, to swap visitors once tourists have completed 7 days in Hua Hin. He says if the re-opening is approved, local operators hope to receive around 100,000 foreign visitors, primarily from countries like China, Japan, Germany, Scandinavia, and the UK. In total, these numbers should result in 1.2 billion baht in revenue.

However, as with elsewhere, everything hinges on the vaccine rollout.

“In order to achieve re-opening, inoculations in Hua Hin must start by June 1 and continue until September 30 with the number of required doses needed being 353,498.”

The Tourism and Sports Ministry has already given the Hua Hin Recharge campaign the go-ahead, on condition that people in areas such as Pran Buri and Cha-am, in the neighbouring province of Phetchaburi, are also vaccinated. The proposal will now go before a meeting of the National Tourism Policy Committee next week, before finally being submitted to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Chiang Mai

Officials in Chiang Mai and Hua Hin express concern amid rapid rise in infections

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Wikimedia

Health officials in the northern province of Chiang Mai and the western province of Prachuap Khiri Khan are on high alert amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. Prachuap Khiri Khan has now reported 334 cases, with infections rising by 141 yesterday. The outbreak is primarily centred around the Hua Hin district, with provincial health official Suriya Khuharat saying most people contracted the virus after attending a concert at the Maya Exclusive Pub on March 30.

Anyone who is concerned they may be infected can receive a free Covid-19 test at either Prachuap Khiri Khan or Hua Hin hospitals. The Bangkok Post reports that, in the last few days, around 500 people a day have visited Hua Hin Hospital for testing.

Hua Hin district and health officials have filed a police complaint against the owners of the Maya Pub, who are accused of violating the emergency decree and disease prevention measures. The March 30 concert is thought to be behind the surge in infections in the seaside district, with over 90% of cases linked to the pub. The chain of transmission is believed to have originated with 1 customer who attended the concert after travelling from Bangkok. The woman is an employee at the Krystal Club in Thong Lor, itself at the centre of a Covid cluster.

Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, health officials say a surge in infections, now exceeding 200 a day, is causing great concern. Yesterday, the northern province reported 260 new cases, with public health chief Chatuchai Maneerat admitting the surge could lead to a shortage of hospital beds.

“Currently we have 1,000 beds in the province’s field hospital and that may not be sufficient. So, the province’s communicable disease control panel has decided to add another 1,000 beds.”

Despite the rise in infections, the Department of Disease Control says there are currently no plans for a national lockdown, given that other provinces are not as severely affected. Opas Karnkawinpong from the DDC says the most important thing is for people to work from home and avoid social gatherings until at least the end of April.

“People are asking if there will be a lockdown. I’d say that a lockdown is the last resort if virus transmissions show no signs of letting-up. Activities that draw large crowds pose the greatest risk and should be avoided until the end of this month at least.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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