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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

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by PR Phuket

2,473 new Covid-19 cases and 35 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. The majority of the new cases are local transmissions, primarily in Bangkok. 680 of the new cases were detected in prisons.

Thailand now has 42,988 active Covid-19 cases, a record high for the country. Out of those cases, more than 10,000 are linked to outbreaks at prisons. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 113,555 Covid-19 infections.

35 deaths involving Covid-19 patients were reported today, raising the pandemic’s death toll in Thailand to 649. Most of the new fatalities were reported in Bangkok.

Bangkok remains the epicentre in the latest wave of infections. The capital reported 873, raising the total since April 1 to 28,658.

There are now 29 Covid-19 clusters in 19 districts in Bangkok. The government has set up several locations for active case finding to contain the spread of the virus.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun, who gives the CCSA report in English, adds that Thai authorities are taking border breaches very seriously and security has tightened at land and sea borders as there have been a number of illegal entries involving those coming from neighbouring countries. Heightened border patrol has been an effort to prevent Covid-19 from being imported into Thailand.

Provinces with the highest number of new Covid-19 infections…

Province New cases Total since April 1
Bangkok 873 28,658
Nonthaburi 155 4,757
Samut Prakan 121 4,329
Pathum Thani 117 2,467
Samut Sakhon 63 1,930
Phetchaburi 43 645
Chon Buri 33 3,768
Nakhon Si Thammarat 30 757
Songkhla 29 1,041
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 28 936

Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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Education Ministry launches online platform as schools’ reopening plans delayed

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Thailand’s Education Ministry is launching an online platform for public school students who are, once again, being forced to learn at home due to restrictions and limitations imposed by the government.

The third wave of the virus has prompted authorities to postpone the reopening of government schools from May 17 (yesterday) to June 1. However, as daily infections keep rising, that date may be amended again.

As the future of the pandemic is unclear, the Ministry has launched www.ครูพร้อม.com, an online platform titled Kru Prom or Teachers Ready in English. The portal features content under 6 categories featuring the word “Wanna” in reference to the more grammatically correct English words of “Want to.” The Wanna Know page, is dedicated to educators as it features e-books to help them boost their skills.

Wanna Learn, Wanna Know, Wanna Teach, Wanna Do, Wanna Watch, and Wanna Share are the categories that students can choose from. Each category has a wide range of choices for students that includes different types of media for each lesson.

Students or teachers are not required to use the new Kru Prom platform, as the Education Ministry says it is just an alternative for those who are interested in learning more. Likewise, teachers are not being told they must compile reports over the platform and it won’t be included in their performance evaluations.

The Ministry has also noted that the platform can be used, even while physically attending school, as a supplement to students’ learning.

Prominent education academic, Athapol Anunthavorasakul, is not impressed with the idea as he says children are exhausted from online/offline classes. He says children should be allowed to play during the break, even if it is extended. He says the most schools should require over the break, is for the students to share what they had learned.

But the Ministry already has released plans that include online learning – once schools are allowed to reopen. The classes will be conducted using onsite, on air, on demand, online, on hand, and hybrid formats. The Ministry is also offering free internet packages to students to help them make the move to online learning. Meanwhile, the Education Minister says the website’s recent launch has proved popular on the first day, gaining thousands of hits.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Thai students to get free unlimited internet to help with online learning

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Thai government school students are set to get free unlimited internet to help students move their studies online after the third wave of Covid-19 has forced schools’ reopening date to be postponed to June 1 from May 17. Digital Economy and Society Minister, Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn, in along with the Education Ministry, said the internet packages will be powered by Thailand’s major mobile and internet operators including AIS, True, Dtac and the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission. He says the ministry will also provide as many schools as possible with fibre-optic high-speed broadband to help broadcast lectures and seminars.

Chaiwut says on-site teaching will continue under strict provisions, if possible, along with on-air education via TV broadcasts and an increase in the availability of on-demand learning materials and books. The Ministry has launched www.ครูพร้อม.com, an online platform titled Kru Prom or Teachers Ready in English. The portal features content under 6 categories featuring the word “Wanna” in reference to the more grammatically correct English words of “Want to.” The Wanna Know page, is dedicated to educators as it features e-books to help them boost their skills.

Students and teachers are not required to use the new Kru Prom platform, as the Education Ministry says it is just an alternative for those who are interested in learning more. Likewise, teachers are not being told they must compile reports over the platform and it won’t be included in their performance evaluations. The Ministry has also noted that the platform can be used, even while physically attending school, as a supplement to students’ learning.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong said admission exams for Mathayom 1 and 4 students will be held on May 22-23. Students, teachers and parents, who participate in the exams, will have to follow sanitation instructions at each testing venue, with all tests being given between a strict window of 9am to 12pm daily.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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