Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Top Imam slain in South; Years for oil spill recovery; Luxury car cheats fined; Online coup posts probed

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

Brothers behind car scam to pay fine
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Nareunart and Thanan Kuansawat, two brothers believed to be part of a luxury-car scam, agreed yesterday to pay a fine for evading car import taxes.

They also heard the two extra charges put before them by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) yesterday.

Charges the brothers face are conspiring to forge official documents and using them, which is punishable by three years in jail, and conspiring to manufacture and import cars without permission.

The Customs Department will set up a panel to consider the fine, which could be up to four times the price of the car. Authorities will continue to search for others who might be involved.

True impact of oil spill may not be known for years
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Even though the oil spill on Koh Samet has been almost removed from Ao Phrao beach, there is a long road before the marine ecosystem and local tourism industries, which make Bt16 billion from 5.5 million visitors a year, recover.

Monitoring the impact of the spill on marine life such as coral reef, seagrass or even plankton on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis needs to start as soon as possible, to estimate the damage on the marine ecosystem.

It’s not only possible changes in the marine life, but the quality of seawater, as well as the level of oil-related hazardous substances in marine life in affected areas and nearby sites that must be watched closely to ensure that seafood caught in the area are safe.

Meanwhile, building confidence among domestic and international visitors is also a priority for related agencies. This is to help not only luxury resort owners but also small and medium-sized business owners, such as street somtam (papaya salad) vendors, seafood restaurant owners, and even masseurs hurt by news about the oil spill on the western side of the island.

At least 50 tonnes of crude oil leaked from a pipeline off Rayong into the Gulf of Thailand on July 27. This oil drifted to Koh Samet the following day.

Measures taken in response to the spill were stepped up after the oil reached Ao Phrao on the night of July 28, nine days ago.

An emergency response team from PTT Global Chemical Plc (PTTGC) arrived shortly after.

As this was an emergency, thousands of personnel from the Royal Thai Navy and PTTGC workers were deployed to help the cleanup mission. But they were not informed about the dangers of crude oil that spread in the sea and onshore at Samet.

However, workers were given white biohazard suits, face masks, gloves, and boots to protect them from toxic chemicals that had covered the white sands.

Meanwhile, the official story from PTT’s top executives was revealed to the public on the fourth day after the incident, following an official decision to talk with those affected by the crisis.

Questions remain, however, about whether the state oil and gas giant used an excessive amount of chemical dispersant to split up the oil as it drifted away from the site.

PTTGC said it used over 32,000 litres to disperse the 50 tonnes of crude oil but Pollution Control Department officials said they had allowed PTTGC to use only 5,000 litres. And, there is no penalty for excessive use of oil dispersant.

To investigate the cause of accident, Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapong-paisal set up a fact-finding committee last week led by Khunying Thongtip Ratanarat, a former executive director of the Petroleum Institute of Thailand. The results of the panel’s inquiries are expected to be released this week.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has also set up a committee led by permanent secretary Chote Trachu to monitor the short- and long-term impacts from imports of oil spilt in the marine ecosystem, and to help estimate the cost of such leaks.

This committee has Pollution Control and Marine and Coastal Resources officials who will oversee the monitoring of the quality of seawater in the Gulf. Plus officials from the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Department and Coastal Resources Department will study marine life, coral and beach ecosystems, as well as seagrass in the Gulf with experts from Chulalongkorn University and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Lat Krabang. The Fisheries Department will try to assess the effect on marine life.

Meanwhile, the Marine Department and National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Department have filed a complaint about the leak and notified the police.

Sakanan Plathong, from Prince of Songkla University’s Marine Biology Division, warned that even if chemical substances in oil were dispersed and could not be seen, they still exist in the sea. This meant frequent monitoring would be needed to see the real impact on marine life. So, the process to assess the real damage could take three to five years till we find out what has really happened.

5 Lisu tribesmen, 1 Nepalese caught with big heroin haul
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Five members of the Lisu tribe were arrested yesterday along with a 22-year-old Nepalese man for trying to smuggle 34 kilograms of heroin into Malaysia, Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) secretary-general Pongsapat Pongcharoen said yesterday.

The drugs were allegedly destined for sale in Taiwan, Australia and Europe.

Police arrested the Nepalese man last Thursday and seized drugs in his possession at Chiang Mai airport. Later, police extended the hunt and arrested the Lisu tribe members at a hotel in Chiang Mai’s Muang district. They also raided a house in the Mae Taeng district where they found another 28kg of heroin, he said.

Separately, the mekong River naval patrol unit nabbed a 39-year-old Laotian woman along with 18,000 yaba tablets at the Ban Na Waeng Pier in Ubon Ratchathani’s Khemmarat district yesterday. She was reportedly on her way to deliver the drugs to customers in the Central region.

Wirapol in Laos, may surrender
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Fugitive ex-monk Wirapol Sukphol is in Laos and is prepared to return home via Nong Khai, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday.

The ex-monk’s legal team, led by Sukit Poonsrikasem, affirmed that Wirapol, who remains in robes, would turn himself in on Thursday.

Sukit said Wirapol, also known as Luang Pu Nenkham, would explain his case to the public and fight allegations – especially those that could result in his being disrobed.

He said the condition to surrender was for the DSI to allow him to be temporarily released, as he wants to handle many matters including the monastic centre’s benefit management.

Sukit said the legal team would sue the ex-monk’s reported key follower Sukhum Wongprasit, claiming he provided information that tarnished Wirapol’s name and might affect the ongoing investigation.

Sukit insisted that Sukhum was not authorised by Wirapol to give information to the media.

He said the team would also file a libel suit against Songkran Atchariyasap,

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News

Thaiger Talk

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply