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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep for cash; Baht falls; Temperatures plummet; Feb 2 polls to go ahead

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

People show support by handing over cash to Suthep
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Apart from addressing social issues, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee led by former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban has now started focusing on collecting donations.

During the march down Bangkok yesterday, Suthep was seen waving to supporters, accepting cash donations and putting them in a bag carried by his aide. He often returned the favour by posing for photographs and signing autographs.

Though the PDRC has marched through Bangkok’s busy streets several times, it has managed to keep things cheerful and colourful. On Thursday, a troupe of cabaret dancers and lion dancers also joined in – all armed with whistles, of course.

Suthep set off with his supporters from Democracy Monument to the Asoke area on Thursday morning, calling on the general public to take part in the mass protests tomorrow. However, instead of offering to join the march, many supporters preferred to hand over cash.

These cash donations began after the Department of Special Investigation decided to freeze the bank accounts of 18 protest leaders. Through cash handed over at the march and via other means, Suthep managed to collect Bt600,000 in donations on Thursday alone.

Observing the rally, @Suloveboss tweeted: “Whoa! This is clearly a top-up mob. People hand over Bt20, Bt50, Bt100, Bt1,000 banknotes all the way at almost every minute. “

Another woman was seen holding up a banner that read: “I am pretty and rich and have come to top up money for Uncle Kamnan [Suthep].” She, along with two of her friends, had travelled to Silom from Phaholyothin to donate cash directly to PDRC leaders. “I have already donated drinking water and money at the rally sites. But today I want to add a little more, as Uncle Kamnan’s accounts have been frozen,” she said.

Likewise, protester Satawan Inthasa said she had travelled from Ekamai to Silom so she could hand cash over to Suthep in person. She said she had raised Bt10,000 for him so far.

While the march seemed lively, some bystanders did not seem that pleased. Many shop owners, such as tailors, rice retailers and pharmacists, on Silom Road said they wanted to remain neutral and not offer donations or join the Sunday march because their work was more important.

Another shop owner, who asked not to be named, said his business was being affected because not many customers could come to his store while the protesters were marching.

A tailor, who preferred to remain anonymous, said this protest was hurting his business very badly, adding that he was still recovering from the 2011 floods and the red-shirt protests in 2010.

Yet some people are keeping optimistic, saying such setbacks are a sacrifice they are willing to make in order to uproot a corrupt regime.

Feb 2 election to go ahead
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: After a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the Election Commission (EC) maintained yesterday that the registration of candidates for the February 2 general election would start on Monday, as planned.

Meanwhile, more than 70 former Democrat MPs from Bangkok and the South have decided not to contest the election.

EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said the registration venue – Kilawet Stadium at the Thai-Japan Youth Centre – would be well protected by police to ensure the registration process would not be interrupted. He said if the venue was besieged by protesters, a new location would be designated to register election candidates.

And if the registration of candidates could not start, the EC would consider whether to expand the period in which to do this.

Yingluck and members of her Cabinet, including caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul and caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri, met with the five new election commissioners at the EC head office yesterday afternoon. The meeting lasted more than an hour and was followed by a press conference, hosted by the commission.

The caretaker prime minister refused to talk to reporters after the meeting, saying that the EC members would explain details in their press conference.

At that conference, EC member Thirawat Thirarojwit said both sides agreed the next election was significant and that there was a need to ensure it was free and fair. He also said the caretaker PM offered to provide sufficient funding for holding the election and for security.

Thirawat said the EC simply wanted political reconciliation ahead of the ballot. “The election day should not become a day of big chaos or confusion,” he said.

Somchai said the EC found that many voters were not in the mood to go to an election, mainly because of the current conflict.

Chaikasem, the caretaker justice minister, said there would be no postponement of the poll.

The EC had earlier suggested reconsidering the election date because of the growing political tension.

Meanwhile, more than 70 former Democrat Party MPs, most from Bangkok and the southern provinces, decided not to contest the next general election, a senior party source said yesterday.

They consist of more than 90 per cent of Democrat MPs from its two major strongholds, and more than 60 per cent of the party’s constituency MPs.

The former MPs said they would not seek re-election even if the Democrat Party decided to contest the next election, according to the source, who said the ex-MPs made their decisions after heavy lobbying by Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

Suthep leads a protest movement to pressure the caretaker Cabinet to resign and postpone the election to make way for political reform.

The source said that with most former Democrat MPs planning to boycott the election, other party colleagues were likely to follow suit.

The party is due to convene a meeting today and contesting the election will be a key item on the agenda.

A survey of all Democrat branch heads found that all of them disagreed with the party contesting the election, former MP Sirichok Sopha said.

In the previous election in 2011, the Democrats won 117 seats in the House of Representatives from constituencies and another 44 from the party-list system of proportional representation. Fifty of the constituency seats were won in the South, 24 in Bangkok, 26 elsewhere in the Central region, 13 in the North, and four in the Northeast.

All opposition Democrat MPs resigned their seats on December 8 to protest against what they described as an illegitimate House of Representatives after passage of a controversial amnesty bill. The mass resignations were followed by Yingluck’s decision to dissolve the House the next day.

The Democrats yesterday sent representatives to talk with most of the main political parties, including the ruling Pheu Thai and the coalition Chart Thai Pattana, to seek their support to postpone the election.

However, Pheu Thai rejected the idea, saying the election should go ahead as planned.

“Postponing the election might make it look like the country has no rule of law,” Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said, adding that the poll should go ahead and political reform be implemented afterwards.

At the Defence Council meeting yesterday, which was chaired by caretaker

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

Thaiger

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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