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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Security tightened in capital; Cop helped Russian scammers; Changes needed in HIV fight; Thais score low in English

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Security tightened in capital; Cop helped Russian scammers; Changes needed in HIV fight; Thais score low in English | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Security in Bangkok tightened
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Security has been beefed up in Bangkok as protesters wait to hear the Constitutional Court’s ruling on charter amendment to be announced later today.

About two companies of policemen were deployed to secure the court compound, with 20 officers taking up sentry duty to keep out unauthorised individuals. Roadblocks and barriers have also been set up to shield the court building.

Meanwhile, five companies of police officers were deployed to secure Rajamangala Stadium, where pro-government red shirts are rallying.

Citing an approval by the prime minister, Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday that he was now in charge of running the police crowd-control measures.

He said he would work with Deputy PM Pracha Promnog, who is already in charge of national security. “I am sure my job and his would not be in conflict because we would coordinate,” he added.

Chalerm added that a coordination centre has already been set up at the Labour Ministry, where a daily meeting with the police will be held. National Security Council Secretary-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr and Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi also serve at this centre.

The red-shirt rally at the Rajamangala Stadium kicked off yesterday with some 1,500 protesters coming from all over the country, including Chiang Mai, Buri Ram, Udon Thani and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Red-shirt leader Thida Thavorn-seth said the protesters will disperse today if the court ruling is positive, otherwise the leaders will meet and decide on future moves.

Somphote Prasartthai, a red-shirt leader from Nakhon Ratchasima, said some 100 former paramilitary rangers hailing from the province were coming to Bangkok to serve as guards for the protest.

Meanwhile, Bangkok police chief Camronwit Toopgrajank said he was worried about a rise in general crimes, possibly because the police force will be busy handling protesters on both sides – both those for and against the government.

He said police officers had been stationed at vantage points near the Democracy Monument rally site to provide security, not to spy on the anti-government mob or to target former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban, as he claimed to the crowd recently.

Protesters, led by Suthep, first occupied areas near Democracy Monument on November 4 to voice their opposition to the government amnesty bill, before changing the refrain to an anti-Shinawatra one.

Meanwhile, the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (STR) moved its anti-government rally to Makkhawan Bridge on November 7, while the People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime group took over the Phan Fa Lilat Bridge on November 5.

Vocational students who were part of the STR rally have moved from Makkhawan Bridge to join the crowds at Democracy Monument, coordinator Uthai Yodmanee said yesterday. However, the main body of protesters, including students from Rangsit University and members of the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation, remain at Makkhawan Bridge.

According to police updates released yesterday afternoon, some 450 protesters were stationed at Democracy Monument, 250 at Phan Fa Bridge and 100 at Makkhawan Bridge. There were no rally speeches as of yesterday morning.

Police are expected today to carry out peacekeeping measures at three sites – Rajdamnoen Avenue, Raja-mangala Stadium and the Constitutional Court.

Police officer sacked for helping Russian duo
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Tourist Police Division chief Maj-General Apichai Theamart said yesterday that Senior Sgt-Major Nonthapan Saengsuk, 37, had been sacked for allegedly helping two Russian criminals, who are believed to have used fake debit and credit cards to withdraw money. He said a disciplinary probe has also been launched to investigate the officer’s superiors.

Nonthapan was arrested in Nakhon Ratchasima along with Russian suspects Vasily Ivanoff, 27, and Serge Peterneff, 38, for allegedly conspiring to use fake credit and debit cards to withdraw more than Bt2.9 million from ATM machines across the provincial capital.

The suspects also had in possession more than Bt2.9 million in cash that they had allegedly withdrawn over the past week as well as 328 counterfeit ATM cards. A subsequent search of the Russian suspects’ hotel rooms in Bangkok also turned up more than Bt1.5 million in cash, 31 fake credit cards and evidence suggesting that Ivanoff may have withdrawn about Bt65 million since arriving in Thailand.

Meanwhile, Nakhon Ratchasima police have launched a manhunt for more accomplices – possibly foreigners.

Policy changes needed to fight HIV
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: Legal reform – including the revision and removal of some laws and policies affecting people living with HIV – must be implemented to end stigma and discrimination in the Asia-Pacific region, an international conference on HIV/Aids was told yesterday.

Almost all countries in this region have some punitive laws and policies that prevent people living with HIV and key populations from accessing life-saving HIV services, according to a recent UN report.

“HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero” by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) said 33 countries in the region are known to criminalise soliciting, 18 countries criminalise same-sex sexual behaviour, 11 countries incarcerate people who inject drugs in compulsory drug detention, and 11 countries still have in place some type of HIV-related restrictions on entry and residence.

The report was launched yesterday during the 2013 International Congress on Aids in Asia and the Pacific (ICAPP11) being held in Bangkok until November 22. Over 3,500 participants including health experts, policy-makers, civic groups and representatives of people living with HIV are attending the conference to discuss new ways to handle HIV in the region.

According to the report, new HIV infections in the region remain concentrated among key populations including: people who buy and sell sex, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and transgender people.

The region’s fastest-growing rate is among men who have sex with men and these epidemics are typically concentrated in major cities. The report estimated that HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is over 10 per cent in at least 10 Asian metropolitan areas.

Although more people have access to the region’s HIV services, most programmes to protect key populations and their members’ intimate partners from HIV are inadequate in size and scale. Only an estimated 8 per cent of overall Aids spending in the region is for HIV prevention among key populations at higher risk, the report noted.

The report estimated that about 4.9 million people were living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific in 2012. Eleven countries accounted for more than 90 per cent of people living with HIV and new HIV infections in the region – Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Emerging epidemics were evident between 2001 and 2012, |and new HIV infections increased 2.6 times in Indonesia, while

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand, delivered fresh, and free, to you. Hosted by Tim Newton. Catch the latest updates and Thai News.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments yesterday.

A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021. The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

Bleak outlook for Thailand’s hotels

Thailand’s hotels are facing a very dark time with the Thai borders still largely closed and the vast majority of Thailand’s hotels remaining closed for business.

There are 1000s of hotels and a related millions of staff, waiting for things to improve. C9hotelworks.com MD, Bill Barnett, is one of the region’s most respected consultants for the industry. We asked Bill, how are they all surviving? (Run interview video… 2.56 – 3.35)

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort

After coming in for some negative online attention recently, the land title deeds of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort have been investigated and found “to be in order”.

The 5-star hotel first attracted the attention of netizens when its owner, Vorasit Issara, publicly criticised an anti-government activist.

His Instagram tirade prompted outrage from those who support the current protest movement, with netizens calling for a boycott of his property.

Shortly after, the Civil Society for State Welfare called on the Social Security Office to clarify its investment in the resort’s trust fund. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

Responding to the land rights issue, the Phuket Land Office has issued a statement to say the hotel does not occupy state land.

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month…again.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures.

Now, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily as the county starts welcoming back visitors.

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival goes ahead next month

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that!

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will take place from October 17 to 25.

Given the fireworks and crackers exploding in your face if you attend any of the events, it’s probably a good idea that the Governor is insisting visitors wear face masks. We’d recommend eye googles as well.

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival.

The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

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Economy

Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal

Caitlin Ashworth

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Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

It’s going to be another 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back on track, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. At least that’s the amount of time he expects it will take to get the economy back to “normal levels” from before the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis crippled economies across the globe. The Covid-19 pandemic is already the worst global crisis since World War II, according to a report by the UN. Thailand’s tourism-dependant economy has been struggling since the country shut it’s doors to international travel. Krungthai Bank also predicts it will take about 2 to 3 years for Thailand’s economy to recover and the Finance Ministry predicts Thailand’s economy will contract by a record of 8.5% this year.

Almost 800 billion baht has gone into supporting the economy, Supattanapong says, adding that the government plans to do more stimulus perks to help boost the economy. The government is working on a 1.9 trillion baht response package with a 1 trillion baht borrowing plan.

Supattanapong’s guesses are based on the pandemic situation not getting any worse, whilst the world’s Covid cases, in many part of the world, including many of Thailand’s feeder markets, are suffering a new spike in cases. His assumptions would also have to include an immediate return to high profit of the country’s tourism industry – not likely to happen any time soon.

“I think the economy should get back to normal levels within two years… But if we can manage it very well, we may see that late next year.”

While Thailand’s economy as a whole might take just 2 years to get back to normal, the country’s tourism revenue is expected to take even longer. Krungthai COMPASS Research Centre predicts it will be at least 3 to 4 years until tourism revenue is back to normal. Thailand’s tourism revenue is expected to shrink by 70% by the end of this year, making only 9.1 billion baht compared to the 3.02 trillion baht tourism brought in last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Prachachat

The government just sealed the deal to build Thailand’s first factory to produce cancer-treating medicine and chemicals, a move that is expected to cut treatment drug costs in half. Buying imported cancer-treating drugs is expensive. Thailand spends about 21 billion baht per year on imported cancer medicine, according to Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The local factory is intended to give Thais more affordable and also more accessible medicines for treating cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Thailand, Anutin says, adding that each year, 80,000 people in Thailand die from cancer.

Thailand's first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: CDC Thailand

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation signed a contract with PTT to build the plant. Construction will be begin in 2022 and they would start producing commercially until 2027. The factory will produce variety of drugs for many different types of cancer, including drugs for chemotherapy, according to the organisation’s managing director.

“This factory will have the capacity to produce 30 million units of chemotherapy drugs and 31 million units of biological drugs per year, with a focus on patents that will expire first. Once there is enough for domestic use, we can boost our production capacity for export. This will make cancer drugs cheaper in the country and will also help push for them to be included in the national list of most-needed medications.”

The factory is planned to be in Rayong’s Ban Chang district at the PTT Wanarom Eco Zone Industries estate. The feasibility study is expected to take 14 months.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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