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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: UN help sought to protect Uighur refugees; CMPO to propose lifting decree; Teacher slaying unsettles South

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: UN help sought to protect Uighur refugees; CMPO to propose lifting decree; Teacher slaying unsettles South | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

UN help sought to protect Uighurs found in Songkhla
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The United Nations and rights organisations are set to take care of a group of 220 people smuggled to Songkhla on Wednesday, who have been found to be Uighurs who fled Xinjiang, the mainly Muslim region in western China, Human Rights Watch adviser Sunai Phasuk said yesterday.

The group were on their way to Turkey through Malaysia, he said. Efforts were under way to try to verify reports that their passports were seized by smugglers based in Malaysia.

Police and Thai officials were initially unsure what the nationality of the group was. They were first thought to be Turks, or Kurds or Arabs.

The Chinese Embassy has coordinated with Immigration Police on obtaining information from the group, which consists of 78 men, 60 women and 82 children.

Sunai said he was concerned about the Uighurs’ welfare if or when they were repatriated to Xinjiang, given the insurgency by some of its residents against China’s rule.

Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana spoke after meeting the group at an immigration office where they had been detained. He said the group was not cooperating, and had demanded to meet with officials from the Turkish Embassy.

Human Rights Watch Thailand has contacted the United Nations and its human-rights agency to discuss possible measures to help them out, Sunai said, adding that they would not be repatriated if protected by the UN as asylum seekers.

Immigration Police chief Pol Lt-General Panu Kerdlarppol said verification of the Uighurs’ destination and port of entry was under way, and that the 220 would be returned to where they came from.

He said the Uighurs, who possess a large amount of money in US dollars, had been resting in Songkhla awaiting forged passports to be made available to them by smugglers from various countries. The Uighurs were likely to have travelled to Thailand via car in smaller groups before they gathered in Songkhla. They were later found by Thai people and arrested.

Smugglers demand money

An Immigration Police source said this group of Uighurs had been kept longer in Songkhla by smugglers who demanded another US$10,000 to $20,000 (Bt323,000-Bt646,000) from each of them, while smugglers usually only keep them briefly in Thailand. He said a group of smugglers dealing with Uighurs were a multinational criminal ring based in Malaysia. They charge around $40,000 for each Uighur wishing to travel to Turkey, a Muslim country.

Along the smuggling routes in Thailand, smugglers transport them in vans or pickup trucks to residences near a shopping mall in northern Bangkok and Pathum Thani, before heading to Songkhla in the far South.

Smugglers have links with local politicians based in areas connected to smuggling routes.

In Malaysia, The Star daily newspaper reported that a bid by 62 illegal immigrants from Turkey to enter Malaysia from Thailand had been foiled by the General Operations Force (GOF).

Deputy Superintendent S Sivam, Bidor 3rd GOF Battalion assistant commanding officer, said the illegal immigrants’ movements were detected by GOF personnel at about 5.30am on Thursday.

The 62 were detained while trying to cross through the Malaysia-Thailand border fence.

“GOF personnel, who became suspicious [of] human movement early in the morning, surrounded the illegal immigrants,” he said.

He said all the Turkish nationals, comprising 23 men aged from 19 to 23, 15 women aged from 25 and 40, 15 boys aged from nine months to 11 years, plus nine girls aged from five months to eight years, were believed to have come from Ankara, the Turkish capital.

Decentralised administration discussed at PDRC forum
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Elected governors with a larger budget for provincial administration was one of the key points brought up at People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) national reform forum yesterday.

Key speaker Prof Charas Suwanmala, a former dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, said that 10 or 15 provinces were ready to shift to the elected governor system and that it could be implemented as soon as a new, non-elected government is put in place.

In his speech, Charas listed the aspects of the new system, which would include a provincial “people’s council” that would scrutinise the work of the elected governor and would have the authority to impeach the governor should problems arise. He said the central government would continue to handle foreign policy, national security, military and fiscal policy.

“With decentralisation, the concentration of power and the fight for it would cease. Having a centralised state and a representative democracy are failures. If the central government does not transfer power to local governments, both will go bankrupt in the future,” he said.

Charas added that provinces that felt ready to adopt the system of an elected governor should endorse the system through a referendum first.

Pongpayom Wasa-puti, a former Interior Ministry permanent secretary who chaired the forum yesterday, said this was a perfect opportunity to decentralise power in Thailand.

“This is a golden opportunity, the best chance and it won’t come again,” he said, referring to the possibility of a non-elected government being put in place to run the country for 12 to 18 months as demanded by the PDRC, which hopes to oust the Yingluck Shinawatra administration soon.

Pongpayom added that decentralisation would allow provinces to enjoy greater opportunities, efficiency and a larger budget.

One speaker pointed out that people in provinces such as Pathum Thani and Chon Buri paid higher taxes than the amount allocated to them under the national budget, while a participant said that pushing for decentralisation through a military coup might be the best way forward.

At the beginning of yesterday’s forum, PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban clarified that decentralisation did not mean secession. “Don’t interpret it into something else,” he warned.

Yesterday’s forum was the third of the six planned to discuss six key issues.

PDRC spokesperson Akanat Promphan said people across the nation “must participate” in the reform process. Though no more than 300 people were present at the forum held in the Lumpini Park’s Youth Centre, the PDRC is also eliciting views online and says it will later hold consultations with people across the Kingdom.

CMPO to propose lifting decree
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) will propose that the state of emergency in the capital and nearby areas be lifted next week, National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said yesterday.

It would be up to Cabinet to lift the decree and replace it with the Internal Security Act (ISA) implemented to maintain peace and order in the areas where the state of emergency ended, said Paradorn, who is also secretary of the CMPO.

Cabinet meets on Tuesday.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Immigration deadline, quarantine update?, arrests averted | October 30

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Thailand News Today | Immigration deadline, quarantine update?, arrests averted | October 30 | The Thaiger

Last day of the week and all the main stories from around Thailand. Thailand News Today, a bit late today but here it is…

Some immigration offices open tomorrow for last minute visa extensions

The latest amnesty is up tomorrow (October 31) and some immigration offices will be open for those who still need sort out their visa extensions.

Those who miss the deadline could face fines for overstay, immigration officials warn. The extensions all go into effect from November 1 and allow a 60 day stay.

Some immigration offices that are typically closed on Saturdays will be open tomorrow for those filing for extensions. Immigration Bureau commissioner Sompong Chingduang says immigration offices on Chaeng Watthana Road in Bangkok and at Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi, just outside Bangkok city, will be open tomorrow from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Check with your local immigration office.

Court rejects bid to arrest activists who led march on German Embassy

A bid to apprehend 5 anti-government activists who led a march to the Germany Embassy on Monday has failed, after a court in Bangkok rejected a police application for arrest warrants.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court has turned down the application for arrest warrants.

The 5 would have faced charges of sedition and other offences. But the court told officials to instead issue a summons, given that the protesters are students who only gathered for a short time and are unlikely to flee.

On Monday, protesters marched to the German Embassy to submit a petition calling on the country’s government to investigate whether Thailand’s Head of State conducted official business while in Germany. Which nicely segues to the next story…

German government does not believe the Thai Monarch broke the law on conducting state affairs

The German government does not believe the Thai Monarch broke the law on conducting state affairs during his time in the German state of Bavaria.

Germany says His Majesty the King has not violated the European country’s ban on conducting foreign politics on German soil where he resides. The government in Berlin briefed lawmakers this week, saying the Thai Monarch is allowed make occasional decisions regarding Thai state affairs, but he cannot continuously conduct business from overseas.

So far, the German government says they do not believe the King Maha Vajiralongkorn “continuously” conducted Thailand state business during his residence in Bavaria.

PM to visit Phuket on Monday as island’s economy lies in tatters

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is heading to Phuket on Monday, where he will meet with local business leaders and discuss proposals to help revive the southern island’s devastated tourism sector.

Despite Phuket Models and any number of promises from the Thai tourism sector, Phuket remains in a perilous situation whilst the government keeps its borders closed. Almost 100% of Phuket’s economy is derived directly or indirectly from tourist traffic.

Health officials propose reducing quarantine to 10 days

Health officials are suggesting cutting mandatory quarantine for international arrivals to 10 days. We’ve heard it all before but the idea has risen to the top of the Health Minister’s file again.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the proposal will be submitted to the CCSA for approval. It’s hoped that a reduction in the quarantine period could help revive Thailand’s battered tourism sector. Only a tiny handful of STV tourists have arrived on the the tourist visa over the past month. The health minister said…

”The priority now is to strike a balance between people’s health and the economy. Thailand still has to rely on foreign tourists. Re-opening the country to foreign visitors will help put the economy back on track.”

The Minister didn’t say where all these tourists might come from or speculate when a reduction on the quarantine period might be introduced.

Police arrest woman for allegedly selling fashion dental retainers

Police have arrested a woman for allegedly selling and fitting fashion dental retainers and braces.

Police seized equipment used for making dental casts and retainers found at her home in Ratchaburi and charged the 27 year old with illegally fitting fashion dental retainers.

The woman has allegedly been selling the retainers on a Facebook page under the name since November 2017, targeting mostly teenage students.

In Thailand, braces and retainers are a fashion trend and also seen as a symbol of wealth. The Thaiger suggests that if you want a set of straight teeth, go to an orthodontist.

Floods in NE Thailand as Vietnam mops up after typhoon

Flooding persists in four north eastern provinces, including Nakhon Rachasima as of this morning. All in the wake of the weakening tropical depression that crossed the Vietnamese coast on Wednesday as Typhoon Molave.

‘Molave’ was the most powerful typhoon to hit Vietnam in 20 years. The remnants of the tropical depression are now centred over the west of Thailand where it continues to drop plenty of rain.

At least 35 people are dead, 100s injured, and 50+ missing in Vietnam as disaster mitigation authorities are now reaching some of the worst hit areas in central Vietnam.

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Dengue Fever

Lockdown may contribute to Thailand’s rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests

Caitlin Ashworth

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Lockdown may contribute to Thailand’s rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikipedia

Social distancing and lockdown measures may have contributed to a rise in dengue fever in Thailand, according to a recent study funded by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council.

Researchers, which included scientists from the University of Singapore, examined dengue fever cases in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. No impact on the dengue transmission was found in Malaysia or Singapore, but in Thailand, they found that social distancing may lead to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases. They say the largest impact is in Bangkok Researchers say social distancing is expected to lead to 4.32 additional dengue fever cases per 100,000 people in Thailand each month.

Many people in Thailand stayed at home during lockdown measures put in place to control the spread to the coronavirus, but the study found that people in Thailand are typically bitten by dengue-carrying mosquitos at home rather than at work. Some people even travelled back home to their home provinces to be with their families during the lockdown period.

“Although it is possible for dengue infections to occur in workplaces, it was found in one study that 60% of dengue cases live less than 200m apart came from the same transmission chain, revealing that residential areas are a focal point of transmission.”

Reported dengue fever cases in 2019

Lockdown may contribute to Thailand's rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests | News by The Thaiger

Reported dengue fever cases in 2020

Lockdown may contribute to Thailand's rise in dengue fever cases, study suggests | News by The Thaiger

To read the full study click HERE.

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Thailand

Man arrested for allegedly driving with monitor lizards tied to his motorbike

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for allegedly driving with monitor lizards tied to his motorbike | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A man was arrested on animal abuse charges for allegedly catching water monitor lizards, tying them to his motorbike and driving around Prachuap Khri Khan, south of Phetchaburi province.

The man, who is identified as Chaowalit, posted photos on Facebook of lizards tied up to the back of his motorbike. One photo shows a large monitor lizard tied up to the back of the bike, hanging upside-down. Apparently, Chaowalit has been posting photos for about 4 months now on Facebook page on wildlife hunting.

Officials from the Kui Buri National Park were notified about the photos and a team of special unit officers were sent to Chaowalit’s house to arrest him. He was charged with catching and harming protected wildlife as well as violating the Wild Animal Reservation Protection Act. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to 1 million baht.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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