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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Both sides suffer from violent clashes; New plan to pay rice farmers; MP registration by mail; Foreign investors continue retreat from stock market

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Both sides suffer from violent clashes; New plan to pay rice farmers; MP registration by mail; Foreign investors continue retreat from stock market | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

On both sides, victims share the bitter pain of street clashes
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: A junior policeman has become a hero for kicking away a grenade in his bid to protect colleagues during a Bangkok clash – but his wife thinks his fame has come at too high a price.

“If I could choose, I just wish his legs returned to normal,” his 48-year-old wife said.

Her husband, Sen Sgt-Maj Thiradej Lekphu, said he acted out of instinct and a belief that it was better he was hurt than his colleagues dead. Mr Thiradej was gravely injured in the legs as the grenade went off while he was not fully protected behind his bullet-proof shield.

It remains unclear who hurled the grenade into the line of shielded policemen. But on that same day, protester Satta Sae Dan was fatally shot while trying to help other demonstrators in the face of alleged police attacks.

Mr Satta has left behind a wife and three children, the youngest being just a year old.

“I am so sad. But I won’t give up my struggle against the current government,” Mr Satta’s wife Jongjit said.

“I am sure my husband would have supported my decision if he was still alive today.”

Mr Satta and his wife came to Bangkok on February 15 to join anti-government rallies. He was among four civilians killed as a result of the bloody clashes between police and demonstrators in the capital on Tuesday.

Also killed was Pol Senior Sgt Maj Phienchai Pharawat, 46. He worked at a police station in Rayong, but was summoned to Bangkok to deal with the demonstration.

“I hope the situation will end soon. I don’t want to see anyone else lose their beloved,” Mr Phienchai’s wife said tearfully.

Mr Phienchai has left behind a wife as well as two children, aged 15 and 12 years.

National police chief Adul Saengsingkaew said Mr Phienchai would be posthumously promoted to the rank of major and his children would receive scholarships until they earned bachelor’s degrees.

Commerce sets 3-prong plan to pay farmers
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: The Commerce Ministry yesterday launched a plan to raise funds to pay growers under the rice-subsidy project after the recent fiasco over lending by a state-run bank.

The Government Savings Bank (GSB) suffered large withdrawals over consecutive days after it granted a loan last week to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). Customers wanted to show their opposition to GSB’s alleged support of the controversial rice-pledging programme.

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Yanyong Phuangrach said yesterday that a group of pro-government farmers, rice millers and the ministry would cooperate to encourage rice traders and others who wanted to help farmers withdraw their money from other banks to deposit at the BAAC. Once that happened, the BAAC should have sufficient revolving funds to assist the farmers who have not been paid for their pledged rice.

However, Mr Yanyong did not provide a clear opinion on whether this idea would be workable.

Moreover, he said the ministry would set up a “Thai Rice Farmers Assistance Fund”. Those who wanted to help the farmers could donate money to the fund at BAAC account number 020033119718. This measure was designed to assist the farmers in the short term.

For the long term, Mr Yanyong said that the ministry would establish a “Thai Rice Farmers Bank” to manage farmers’ money and ensure that they have their own financial institution and more liquidity.

He said the BAAC should have a method to transfer money from deposit accounts to pay farmers under the rice-pledging scheme to relieve their suffering.

Mr Yanyong added that he had withdrawn his own money from two commercial banks and deposited it in the BAAC to join the effort to help the farmers.

Asked about the practicality of his measures and their possible effect on the banking sector, he said there should not be any legal prohibition preventing people from helping farmers, as the BAAC should have authority to manage the money they deposit and pay the rice growers what they are owed.

However, according to the Bank of Thailand, payments to farmers under the pledging scheme should come from three sources: the national budget, the Finance Ministry’s borrowing and income from sales of rice from the state stockpiles.

Mr Yanyong said the proposed Thai Rice Farmers Assistance Fund would depend on donations and tax revenue paid by rice traders, which amounted to several billion baht.

The fund should be able to serve needy farmers interest-free, he added.

Wichian Phuanglamchiak, president of the Thai Agriculturist Association, said some farmer groups understood that the caretaker government could not meet its obligations under the pledging project as its normal sources of funds had been cut off. The Commerce Ministry’s proposals should increase the government’s ability to pay the farmers very soon.

Meanwhile, a survey this week by the National Institute of Development Institution found that 47.81 per cent of respondents did not believe the government could come up with all of the 130 billion baht it owes farmers before the end of this month.

About 16.76 per cent believed that the government could pay the farmers less than half that amount, while 16.23 per cent believed it could pay in full.

Foreign investors dump Bt31.1bn in stocks
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: Foreign investors continued their retreat from the local bourse yesterday amid the political clashes, selling a net 765 million baht in shares.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index slumped 0.39 per cent to 1,321 points on trading worth Bt30.79 billion.

So far this month, foreign investors have jettisoned a net 17.44bn baht in Thai shares. Since the beginning of this year, their net sales have climbed to 31.1bn baht.

Grenade hurled at police ‘not a stun bomb’
Phuket Gazette / The Nation

PHUKET: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) chief Pol Col Kamthorn Uicharoen said yesterday that a grenade lobbed at the police during the operation to reclaim the Phan Fah Lilat Bridge area from protesters on Tuesday was a highly destructive M67 grenade, not a stun bomb as some people had speculated.

A video clip showing a police officer kicking the grenade away from himself and his colleagues before it exploded went viral on social media recently. The police officer and other security officials nearby were badly injured by the explosion.

Lt Col Songpol Lambunrit, a member of the Defence Industry Club, said US-produced M67 grenades are used by soldiers and the police, adding that he suspected that the assailant who hurled the grenade on Tuesday was highly trained because the safety clip could not be found at the scene.

He also dismissed claims that the grenade used on Tuesday was a stun bomb, saying stun bombs release white smoke after exploding, but the smoke exuded by the grenade in question was black.

Meanwhile, Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut, who is secretary-general of the National Security Council, said investigators would study

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Army deny Twitter spin, “Don’t Reopen”, English proficiency low | Nov 27

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Army deny Twitter spin, “Don’t Reopen”, English proficiency low | Nov 27 | The Thaiger

Last day of the week. Thought we’d go outside. Bad idea! Welcome to Friday’s Thailand News Today.

Royal Thai Army denies claims about Twitter campaign to spread pro-government propaganda

Following a shutdown of 926 Twitter accounts linked to the Royal Thai Army, documents were leaked of what appears to be a contract between the Army and a private company supposedly hired to spread pro-government propaganda.

But Thailand’s Army chief is denying the claims and says the Army never hired a company to spread pro-government propaganda through the over 900 Twitter accounts.

Last month, Twitter announced that it had suspended 926 accounts linked to the Royal Thai Army for violating the social media company’s “platform manipulation” policies.

A report by an independent Cyber Policy Centre says the Army used Twitter to “cheerlead” with pro-government propaganda. The report says the Army used Twitter to criticise the now disbanded Future Forward Party and neutralise criticism after February’s mass shooting where an Army soldier killed 30 people and injured 57 others.

Former WTO director cautions against re-opening Thailand too quickly

The former director general of the World Trade Organisation has issued a caution against Thailand throwing open its borders too early.

Supachai Panitchpakdi says Covid-19 is still very much a threat, pointing to other countries that appear trapped in a cycle of restrictions and lockdowns. He said that the cycle in many Western countries is not just damaging their economies, it’s also leading to more infections and deaths and prolonging the time until the affected countries can restart their economies. He warns that re-opening Thailand’s borders too quickly could have long-term negative impacts for the Kingdom.

Within Thailand there is a polarised view as to whether Thailand should be broadly re-opening its borders or not. Successive polls show that the Thai population is, generally, suspicious about re-opening too soon, especially whilst parts of the rest of the world are still trying to contain their infection rates. On the other hand Thailand’s tourism and hospitality industry has been decimated with millions unemployed.

Bangkok’s canal boat services go electric

A new electric passenger boat service started operating on Bangkok’s Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem today. The klong traverses the eastern side of Rattanakosin Island.

The Thai PM launched the service at the Hua Lamphong Railway Station Pier, and was a passenger on the first boat ride this morning.

There’s seven electric fibreglass boats in the initial service, each carrying 30 passengers.

The boats can run for four hours per charge at a speed of 10-15 kilometres per hour. There’s solar roof panels to help power the electric outboard motors.

The new e-boats operate from 6am-7pm, with a boat departing every 15 minutes. Good news, passengers can travel for free for the first six months of the service.

Thailand’s English level drops for the third year – English Proficiency Index

English skills in Thailand have dropped for the third year in a row with an English language proficiency score considered to be “very low.”

In the past year, Thailand’s ranking dropped from 74 out of 100 countries to 89, according to the 2020 English Proficiency Index by EF Education First. The index is based on test results from 2.2 million adults from 100 countries and regions.

Thailand scored 419 out of 800, which is considered “very low.” Thailand ranks 20 out of 24 countries surveyed in Asia and 7 out of 8 countries in Southeast Asia, just ahead of Myanmar in last place.

According to the report, the lack of English proficiency in Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka hampers access to jobs in the tourism industry which makes up more than10% of their economies.

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Crime

9 arrested for allegedly embezzling more than 2.8 billion baht from Railway Club Cooperative funds

Caitlin Ashworth

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9 arrested for allegedly embezzling more than 2.8 billion baht from Railway Club Cooperative funds | The Thaiger
Line Today

Police arrested 9 people involved in the Railway Club Cooperative, including the former chief, on collusion charges for allegedly approving loans behind closed doors to embezzle a total of 2.8 billion baht from members’ funds.

Officers from the Central Investigation Bureau have been investigating since June 30 of last year. Investigators say the suspects approved loans without calling meetings for the roughly 2,300 cooperative members and used falsified documents to take out loans of about 15 million baht each.

When reviewing loan approvals made between January 2012 and November 2016, investigators say they found loans given to a hotel, housing estate, resort and property project. They say loans were also used to buy luxury cars and other valuables.

Officers from the bureau along with the Department of Special Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Office recently raided 26 locations in Bangkok, Phetchaburi, Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi. Officers seized a total of more than 10 million baht as well as luxury cars.

The 9 suspects face charges of colluding in theft, falsifying documents, using fake documents and money laundering. Along with arresting the cooperative’s former chief executive, 70 year old Boonsong Hongthong, police arrested committee members 49 year old Pimpa Rodrassamee, 31 year old Orchanok Sa-ngadsap, 59 year old Weerachai Srisawat, 69 year old Surat Srisawat, 37 year old Prapat Srisawat, 44 year old Supakit On-aree, 63 year old Preecha Thanapairin and 40 year old Natyanit Mahachot.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Protected hornbill dies from gunshot wound, 2 suspects in police custody

Caitlin Ashworth

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Protected hornbill dies from gunshot wound, 2 suspects in police custody | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: เผด็จ ศิริดำรง

A protected great hornbill died after 5 days of medical treatment for a severe gunshot wound. 2 suspects are now in police custody and officers have seized a .22 calibre rifle, according to Thai PBS.

A tourist found the injured bird near the Khiriphet waterfall on Koh Chang. The hornbill, known in Thai as a nok nguek, was treated at the Nuern Plub Wan animal hospital in Chon Buri. The great hornbill’s condition rapidly deteriorated and veterinarian Phadet Siriadmrong says the hornbill suffered brain stem death.

The great hornbill, Buceros Bicornis, is listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. According to IUCN, hunting his substantial threat to the great hornbill.

Hunting poses a substantial threat to the species. Because of its predictable behaviour when regularly visiting the same feeding sites, it is easily targeted by local hunters.

Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act prohibits hunting preserved or protected wild animals. Those found guilty of violating the act could face up to 4 years in prison and a fine up 40,000 baht.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | Bangkok Post | IUCN

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