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

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep for cash; Baht falls; Temperatures plummet; Feb 2 polls to go ahead | The Thaiger
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– 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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth



Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.


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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth



MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.


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