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Phuket Gazette Thailand news: Tests needed to ID crash victims; Southern unrest during Ramadan; Deeds to be revoked for golf course

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Phuket Gazette Thailand news: Tests needed to ID crash victims; Southern unrest during Ramadan; Deeds to be revoked for golf course | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Tests needed to identify many victims of bus crash
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Forensic experts are working to identify victims whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition after a horrific bus crash in Kaeng Khoi in Saraburi early yesterday.

The tragedy, which claimed 19 lives, has prompted Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt to consider additional measures such as safety briefings for people on interprovincial buses.

The Roi Et-Bangkok bus, operated by Transport Co Ltd, was travelling on Mittraphap Road – the main route to the Northeast – when it was hit by a trailer-truck going the opposite direction, which ran across a safety island and crashed into it. The impact caused the two-level bus to catch fire.

As well as the 19 deaths, some 20 passengers were injured. Most of those killed died inside the bus and their bodies were burnt.

“Preliminary investigation suggests the driver of the trailer-truck fell asleep behind the wheel,” Pol First Lieutenant Assavathep Jantanaree, an officer at Kaeng Khoi police station, said.

Truckdriver Sa-ard Boonyang, 29, survived the accident and is being treated at the Kaeng Khoi Hospital.

At press time, officials had only identified six of the dead. Saraburi volunteers with the Ruamkatanyu Foundation said the bus driver was among those killed.

Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM) commander Pol Maj-General Dr Pornchai Suthirakhun said autopsies would determine if the deceased died before flames reached them.

“The level of carbon monoxide in their bodies will be the key indicator,” he said.

For victims with dental records, he said the identification process could be completed within one day.

“For victims without dental records, the process will be longer because it involves DNA testing of their parents or children,” Pornchai said. With the DNA tests, the process could be done within 48 hours.

Parichat Boonmueang, 31, said she was able to identify the body of her supervisor Sakhon Sawasdiphon from a ring he wore.

“He made a phone call to his elder sister right after the accident took place. He told her that he was trapped inside the bus,” she said.

Chadchart said the GPS record showed that the bus was travelling at a speed of 78 kilometres an hour at the time of the accident.

“That’s not very fast,” he said.

While he did not think the crash occurred because of any fault of the bus firm, he said he would meet with the company’s top executive today to discuss on safety measures for buses.

Transport Co Ltd is a state enterprise under the supervision of the Transport Ministry.

“We will discuss on additional safety measures. Perhaps, we can improve the design of emergency-exit doors or provide safety briefings to passengers the way flight passengers do once they get on an aircraft,” the minister said.

Chadchart said the bus firm and Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department had been instructed to set up a center to take care of crash victims and their relatives. “Kaeng Khoi police station serves as the coordination center,” he said.

Abhisit calls on govt to counter BRN’s claims
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Democrat Party leader yesterday urged the government to issue a statement responding to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN)’s accusation that Thailand breached the Ramadan ceasefire agreement.

Abhisit Vejjajiva also urged the government to affirm its stance on using non-violence and treating the Southern Unrest as a domestic issue.

He said the government should talk with Malaysia, the peace-dialogue facilitator, about rules for both sides to follow to ensure they work together, instead of the current practice of working separately and competing for advantages.

He also urged the government to not just allow National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr or Deputy PM Pracha Promnok to answer questions separately.

Government deputy spokeswoman Sunisa Lertpakawat said Pracha and Paradorn were the correct people to provide news about the unrest as they were directly involved and had expertise in national security.

Abhisit said the government should tell the international community that Thailand did not use violence and had methods to investigate incidents of unrest. When the BRN made the accusations, it wanted to confuse outsiders and elevate the problem.

He suggested positive information could be spread through an appointed spokesman or press releases.

Abhisit said he was concerned about the government’s lack of sensitivity in solving the unrest, particularly its lack of protest against the declaration of Songkhla’s Sadao district as a violence zone. He said the government’s attitude should be firm and things should not be played down out of fear that people would criticize any dialogue attempt.

He said the dialogue, which has been going on for five months, was seemingly being used by the government to woo votes – and by the separatists to publicise the problem. Abhisit said Thailand must insist this was a domestic problem.

He said the authorities must wait for Ramadan to end before assessing incidents. In the meantime, the government should have a working team to coordinate with BRN to ensure both sides were on the same page.

Separately, in Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district, Buddhist couple Chuay Dermmuak and Prapa Sa-nguanpan were shot dead and their eight-year-old son wounded early yesterday afternoon. Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on them before fleeing with the victims’ motorbike.

In another incident, police investigators found that 10 spent bullet cases collected from where another Thai couple were shot dead on July 21 in Rangae district came from the gun used in the separate murders of two Narathiwat teachers late last year. Police suspect the Thai couple’s shooting was in retaliation for the July 19 killing of suspect Masupian Mama in Joh I Rong district.

At 2.25am yesterday, Tambon Klong Maning Adminsitrative Organisation president’s driver, Hama Jehnawae, 45, was shot dead in Pattani’s Muang district. Police are investigating if the death stemmed from a personal conflict rather than from the unrest.

Golf-course land deeds illegal: RFD
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Royal Forest Department is seeking the revocation of title deeds for a popular golf course in Rayong after finding that they were issued illegally and the golf club had encroached on public land.

“We are now preparing an official letter to ask the Lands Department to investigate the issuance of title deeds for this golf course and withdraw the title deed of this area,” Boonchob Suthamanuswong, director-general of the Forest Department, said yesterday.

The golf links occupy 109 plots of land covering 1,344 rai in Tambon Huay Pong and Tambon Sam Nak Kra Thon of Muang district.

According to an investigation, about 32 plots located within the links’ grounds are areas where individuals are not allowed to own land.

Seven other plots were located in overlapping areas between the department’s land and private land.

The Lands Department is not authorized to issue title deeds for this golf course, he said.

Provincial authorities had set up a committee to investigate the issuance of

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thai Chamber of Commerce urges visa amnesty to be extended after today’s deadline

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Thai Chamber of Commerce urges visa amnesty to be extended after today’s deadline | The Thaiger

The Thai Chamber of Commerce is urging the government to extend the visa amnesty for the country’s 400,000 tourists after today’s deadline but has so far been turned down. The move comes as such provinces like Chiang Mai’s immigration office sends messages giving tourists until Monday to sort out their visas (which is under the law as Saturday, the final day of the visa amnesty, is usually closed).

“For the foreigners that visas will expire on September 26, 2020, if come to continue the visa on Monday, September 28, 2020, no need to pay for overstay. If you haven’t been able to sort through the queues and online bookings for an appointment, you also have Monday (at any immigration office) to get things sorted. Many of the country’s immigration offices are open today. Good luck.”

TCC chairman Kalin Sarasin says they have repeatedly asked the Immigration Bureau to extend the amnesty by 90 days but have been met with unclear answers as the deadline for sorting visas hits today.

“We were told that this agenda was in the process, but there’s been no progress so far.”

Kalin says the deadline will bring even more chaos to those who await flights out of the country as they are not yet fully allowed. Furthermore, such provinces as Chiang Mai attribute stranded tourists as helping generate revenue at a time when the country desperately needs it. As these tourists need long-term accomodations, they undoubtedly bring revenue to the domestic tourism sector at a time when hotels and other types of accommodations are struggling.

“Instead of blacklisting those foreigners, the government should accommodate them with a more flexible period, particularly when the country cannot reopen for inbound tourists. The uncompromising stance towards visa extension scares tourists away despite the fact that they help drive the local economy in these tough times.”

This week has been the busiest on record for stressed out Immigration officials who have been trying to cope with the last minute influx of tourists and expats whose visas had expired and were trying to extend, or apply for, visas to stay in the country.

Anantorn Hochindarat, president of the Tourism Association of Chiang Mai, says some businesses have received recurring revenue from international tourists which can help a lot when facing difficult times.

Although the profits from such tourists are much lower now, Anantorn says it can help businesses stay afloat. Despite such calls for an extension of visa amnesty, the Immigration Bureau has yet to announce any leeway to be given after today’s deadline.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Sex worker support group pressures Thai government to decriminalise prostitution

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Sex worker support group pressures Thai government to decriminalise prostitution | The Thaiger
A sex worker support group called The Empower Foundation is hoping to persuade the Thai government to decriminalise prostitution by seeking a 10,000 signature petition. The group, based in Chiang Mai, wants penalties for selling sex removed as it says the 1960 law harbors exploitation and corruption. Such a removal would require Thailand to withdraw the Anti-Prostitution Act which saw more than 24,000 people arrested under it by the Royal Thai Police just last year.

The coordinator for the group, Thanta Laowilawanyakul, says police only go after the sex workers and not the employers, with those found breaking the law to be branded with a criminal record that makes it hard to leave the industry as finding legal work becomes an issue. Thanta says 80 percent of the women working in the sex industry are the primary breadwinners for the entire family.

“Sex workers are lawfully registered in Germany, Amsterdam and Singapore. Why not Thailand? The answer is no, because the government thinks it will ruin the country’s reputation. Meanwhile, Germany has over 700,000 prostitutes, yet the profession is not stigmatised.”

A researcher at Thammasat University also concluded that the Anti-Prostitution Act doesn’t work due to the large scale corruption of the Thai police. Such corruption allows prostitution to continue in the form of massage parlors, karaoke bars and clubs where such establishments can give a kickback to police and still make large profits. Such establishments, according to a Rangsit University criminology expert, reportedly give anywhere from 200,000 – 400,000 baht in bribe money to police to keep prostitution and human trafficking alive.

The numbers of illegal sex workers are staggering as Empower estimates that the country has almost 300,000 such workers, a number that is twice that of a UN report in 2014 due to what the group attributes to a failure to take into account the migrants and underage children in the business.

Empower is hoping its petition, which gained 10,000 signatures at the September 19 anti-government protestin Bangkok, will bring awareness to the issue that has historically been ignoredby the government. A spokesman for the Social Development and Human Security Ministry women’s affairs section says that it is reviewing the law and could put amendments on the table for next year.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail | The Thaiger

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Thai Air Asia returns to Suvarnabhumi in addition to its Don Mueang hub

The Thaiger

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Thai Air Asia returns to Suvarnabhumi in addition to its Don Mueang hub | The Thaiger

Thai AirAsia is spreading its Bangkok wings and opening up a secondary hub at the main Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK), to help broaden its attraction and bolster its bottomline. Thai Air Asia was the first airline to head back to the moth-balled Don Mueang in 2012 to re-establish the older airport after all the airlines moved across to the new Suvarnabhumi and discount airlines were seeking a lower-cost base.

Although Thai Air Asia carried 22.15 million passengers last year, this year’s total will fall a long way short, just 6 million for 2020 up to date. Under the new set up, Thai AirAsia will have resumed nearly 90% of its pre-Covid domestic services, a total of 109 daily flights to 39 destinations. There will be 97 flights from Don Mueang Airport and 12 from Suvarnabhumi Airport.

With only a handful of international traffic, Suvarnabhumi officials are keen to re-kindle revenue for the massive airport and have struck a deal with Thai Air Asia to trial operations from BKK. They will be the only domestic carrier to operate flights from the two airports.

If the 2 month trial at Suvarnabhumi is successful, Thai AirAsia plans to add another plane to the BKK fleet by the end of the year. At this stage the trial is only approved up to the end of November.

Thai Air Asia have been concentrating on their ‘bus’ model to ferry passengers from the terminals to their aircraft waiting on remote airport aprons, and visa versa, to avoid some of the landing charges and using the sky-bridges. Some passengers have been complaining about the long trips in crowded buses, wild rides and over-enthusiastic air conditioning, whilst being told to strictly adhere to social distancing.

This week the Malaysian parent company Air Asia, announced the introduction of a ‘super app’, in an attempt to off-set the significant financial losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The mobile application shuffles Air Asia’s model as a flight and accommodation provider, to a broader platform of complimentary services. The app will offer users a variety of options, including digital payment services, delivery services, and an e-commerce platform. Air Asia Chief Executive and founder, Tony Fernandes, says the idea for the app was floated prior to the pandemic, but Covid-19 hastened its development.

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