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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Six dead in elephant crash; Bt2-tn loan bill rejected; Rate cut brings little joy

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Six dead in elephant crash; Bt2-tn loan bill rejected; Rate cut brings little joy | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Six people and an elephant killed in accidents
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A total of six people and an elephant were killed yesterday when a Pajero crashed into three wild elephants crossing Ban Beung-Klaeng Road at 4am yesterday in Rayong’s Wang Chan district.

One of the victims was identified as Singaporean Jonathan Bowen Lim. Three elephants were injured but a male later succumbed to injuries.

The Pajero carrying four people crashed into the elephants, killing two of its passengers at the scene.

While rescue workers were using heavy machines to remove the injured victims from the wrecked vehicle, a six-wheel truck slowed down to watch the rescue and a tailing Toyota Vigo pickup ran into its rear. The pickup truck driver was instantly killed and three others wounded.

Two injured passengers from the Pajero and a passenger of the pickup were later pronounced dead in hospital.

DNP deputy director general Theerapat Prayurasiddhi said the injured elephants would be sent for medical treatment at Kasetsart University’s Kamphaengsaen campus or Khao Khiew Khao Chompu Wildlife Sanctuary.

Meanwhile, the owner of a female domesticated elephant that died last year in official care, has filed a lawsuit in the Civil Court for Bt2.5 million in compensation from the state natural resources and wildlife protection agency.

The civil court will hold the first hearing of this case on May 19.

The elephant named “Tang Mo” was three years and eight months old when it died of unknown causes.

Natiwin Amornsin, owner of the young elephant, said his compensation lawsuit was the first of its kind against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Tang Mo had been seized by the department in 2012 and died last year. “Her death was unusual,” Natiwin said.

The department seized the elephant, suspecting it could be classified as a wild elephant. Natiwin was unable to show elephant identification documents for it and the animal was placed in the care of the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.

Officials, however, took no action against Natiwin as they had insufficient evidence to prove his elephant was a wild one.

He told them he had bought the elephant for Bt790,000 from local sellers in the northeastern province of Buri Ram in 2010, when Tang Mo was two years old.

“I have all documents [needed] to prove that my elephant was domesticated and not a wild elephant,” he said.

“No one from the department said sorry to me for the death of my elephant,” he added.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu said his agency would pay Natiwin’s compensation if the court ordered the ministry to do so.

The department’s acting director-general, Nipon Chotibal, said according to an internal investigation, no officials were involved in the death of Natiwin’s elephant.

“No one neglected their duties in taking care of her,” he said.

Surasit Mutusahim, a member of a committee tasked to resolve the problem, said his committee had instructed the government to pay over Bt2 million for Natiwin as compensation for the death of his elephant in November last year, but so far there had been no progress with the payment.

Bt2-tn loan bill rejected
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The government’s Bt2-trillion borrowing bill for infrastructure projects, including high-speed railway, was yesterday unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the charter court in a much-awaited verdict, making the entire caretaker Cabinet and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra liable to impeachment.

The verdict brings the second impeachment risk for Yingluck after the National Anti-Corruption Commission decided to press charge of negligence in the controversial rice-pledging scheme against her. If Yingluck is found guilty of dereliction, the NACC will forward her case to the Senate for impeachment.

The Constitutional Court voted 9-0 to rule the content of the bill unconstitutional, while there was a 6-2 vote with one judge abstaining over the bill being passed in procedural violation of the charter following coalition MPs voting with others’ identity cards.

The court ruled the entire bill unconstitutional, saying the main content violated Article 154 (3) of the charter.

Former Democrat Party MP Wiratana Kalayasiri, a party legal adviser who lodged a petition against the bill with the charter court, said that he would pursue the impeachment of Yingluck and her Cabinet. He thanked the judiciary for foreseeing the bad effects that would have been brought by the bill, and saving Thailand from being indebted with loans for 50 years or longer.

The verdict is a major blow to the caretaker administration, which has been engulfed with several legal and political setbacks, while serving as a boost for the anti-government movement. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee crowd at Lumpini Park cheered and jeered loudly when news about the verdict was read out to them by rally leaders on-stage.

Yingluck, speaking on a tour in Chaiyaphum yesterday, said she deplored the verdict against the Bt2-trillion bill, saying the government had done what it could to develop the country’s connectivity and infrastructure to compete with other countries in the region. She said she hoped that the next or future governments would carry out the projects. “It’s an opportunity to every Thai, not just to a government,” she said. Asked if she felt she was treated unfairly, Yingluck turned away and walked up to meet with a group of supporters.

Before interacting with the media, Yingluck had lunch with Cabinet members and provincial authorities. She appeared tense after learning of the verdict and was seen in discussions with two Cabinet members.

Core leader Satit Wongnongtaey said the Yingluck Cabinet would need to step down even as a caretaker government, especially as the rejected bill was a monetary legislation that subjected any government to an extra burden of political responsibility.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said Yingluck should quit, and keep a commitment made earlier by her own deputy, Phongthep Thepkanjana, who had said Yingluck would need to show responsibility “in one away or another” if the bill pushed by the Pheu Thai-led government was ruled unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) vice president Tanit Sorat took the court decision in his stride, saying there would be less worry about the country’s public debt levels.

However, caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said yesterday the Bt2-trillion loan to finance infrastructure projects would have increased the country’s competitiveness and pushed 3 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP).

Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Kittiratt said the past 10 years had seen a sharp drop in investment in Thailand to 20-23 per cent of GDP, compared to 35-42 per cent of GDP before 1997. The low investment would make the country less competitive.

The property sector is expected to be impacted the most by the court verdict as they had speculated on some plots of land. Some developers said they would slow down their investments.

Chakporn Oojitt, executive director of

— 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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