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

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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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

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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Economy

Twin TAT campaigns will boost domestic travel

Greeley Pulitzer

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Twin TAT campaigns will boost domestic travel | The Thaiger

In November the Tourism Authority of Thailand plans two campaigns – “Visit Thailand with 100 Baht” and “Shocking Price Weekday Travel”, – aimed to generate 400 million baht in local tourism revenue before the end of the year.

The TAT’s executive director of product promotion said “Shocking Price Weekday Travel” would encourage upper and middle-class Thai tourists to travel more on weekdays, enjoying discounts of up to 80% on high-end tourism products, including five-star hotels, airlines, spas, yachting, Michelin-star restaurants and other privileges from online travel agents. The TAT says at least 4,000 tourism operators and members of tourism associations have registered to take part in the scheme.

A second campaign, “Visit Thailand with 100 Baht”, will feature 40,000 tourism products priced at just 100 baht, offering 10,000 products per day on November 11-12 and December 11-12. You’ll need to be 18 or older and have e-banking and a mobile phone number to join the campaign via the TAT’s website, and can shop for only one tourism product outside their hometown.

Registration will run from 6am until midnight or whenever the 10,000 products for that day run out, the TAT said. The campaign will offer air and bus tickets, hotels, food and drink, tour packages and attractions.

The TAT’s governor said 116 million baht will be used for the two additional programs, above the government’s 1,000 baht cash giveaway Chim-Shop-Chai (Taste-Shop-Spend) scheme, and a 15% cash rebate for spending on tourism products. He expects the new campaigns should add about 400 million baht in tourism revenue and increase the number of Thai tourists travelling domestically by 10-20% .

“The new campaigns, are expected to raise domestic tourism revenue to 1.12 trillion baht this year.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Thailand resume free trade talks with EU, reducing reliance on China

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thailand resume free trade talks with EU, reducing reliance on China | The Thaiger

The European Union has restarted talks with Thailand about a potential free trade agreement. The talks started just days after unfreezing a deadlock put in place by the previous military junta. The resumption of talks comes as Thailand seeks to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on China, which accounted for 14% of the its total foreign direct investment in 2018.

The director-general of the Thai foreign ministry’s department of European affairs held talks in Brussels yesterday with top EU officials in charge of Asia. The talks underlined the EU’s interest in developing closer ties with Southeast Asia, with the ultimate goal of a strategic partnership with ASEAN, which 10 countries in the region.

ASEAN represents the EU’s third-largest trading partner outside Europe, after the US and China, with more than 237.3 billion euros (263.9 billion USD) of trade in goods in 2018. According to latest available statistics bilateral trade in services amounted to 85.5 billion euros in 2017.

Free trade talks between Thailand and the EU also started in 2013 but were put on hold by the EU after the military coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The EU said at the time that “political and civil rights and liberties in Thailand had been severely curtailed” during its years of military rule.

SOURCE: South China Morning Post

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Technology

The dangers of 5G – coming to a mobile phone near you

Tim Newton

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The dangers of 5G – coming to a mobile phone near you | The Thaiger

MONTAGE: The Thaiger

5G, the next generation of mobile phone technology is coming, within months here in Thailand. It will continue to roll out over the next few years, replacing the earlier 4G technology.

Along with any new technology there’s also valid concerns about potential health risk of this new, more powerful network. There’s also been a lot of misinformation and scare-mongering. So is there a looming 5G health apocalypse?

The key concerns, or claims, about 5G is that it’s a dangerous escalation of traditional mobile technology, higher energy radiation that delivers potentially damaging effects on humans. Some 5G decriers contend that the new network generates radiation that can damage DNA, lead to cancer, cause oxidative damage, premature ageing; disrupt cell metabolism and hosts of other diseases. There are articles citing research studies and even opinions by the World Health Organisation.

But first, some science.

5G is the industry standard that will supersede the current widespread 4G LTE standard, just as 4G took over from 3G. 5G just stands for the “fifth generation” in mobile cellular technology.

This standard is designed to be much faster than current 4G and 4GLTE technology. Simply, it will allow faster wireless internet everywhere for everything, as long as you’re in signal range of course.

The speed, and it’s a LOT faster, will allow virtual realtime connection, even faster that human reflexes, to provide more accurate and real experiences. For the new world of auto-drive cars, remote surgery, even gaming and other internet-of-things products and services, 5G will take the online world to the next level. Words like ‘latency’ will vanish as there simply won’y be delays.

5G is poised to deliver peak speeds between 10 and 20 Gbps – that’s 10 – 100 times faster than the current 4G services.

Health concerns

Concerns about 5G are just the latest evolution of decades of headlines about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation. We’ve seen controversies about everything from the health risks of Wi-Fi, smart metres, fluorescent tubes, overhead electric wires, even our mobile phones we use all day. So far there has been no conclusive studies about any of these causing reliable, repeatable, measurable or sustainable health concerns.

But the concerns persist, swirling around the internet and sparking off renewed concerns every few years.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, for example, is a hypothetical disease in which certain people experience debilitating symptoms in the presence of radiation like mobile phones and Wi-Fi.

But despite thousands of people claiming these sorts of sensitivities for at least 30 years, extensive scientific studies have shown that people claiming to be afflicted with this ‘disease’, when blind-folded, are unable to tell or ‘feel’ when they’re in the presence of an electromagnetic field. The World Health Organisation now recommends psychological evaluation for people who continue with these alleged symptoms.

Beyond that, decades of studies have found no link between mobile phones, wi-fi and cancers, including brain tumours from holding your mobile phone to your ears when calling people.

The dangers of 5G - coming to a mobile phone near you | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: echo.net.au

RF or Radiofrequency Radiation?

At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation. RF could be anything from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your screen or light from the sun. Even when you turn on a light at home. It’s all electromagnetic radiation.

We walk through a sea of RF, all day, everyday, it’s impossible to escape – from the sunlight, to the power sources around our house, to the TV screens, to the electric kettles, microwave ovens and electric cookers in the kitchen.

In the RF spectrum there are ionising or non-ionising radiation, only the ionising radiation has the potential to interfere with breaking up chemical bonds.

Ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, and everything with a lower frequency – radio waves, power lines, FM radio, Wi-Fi and our mobile cellular services – these are all considered non-ionising radiation.

Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionising.

The assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, Dr. Steve Novella, says there’s been decades of misunderstanding about the ill-effects of lower frequency radiation.

“Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons – they think of ionising radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.”

“Most concern about mobile phone RF radiation is misplaced. There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionszing radiation to have any biological effect.”

It’s not a tumour!

But researchers continue to conduct studies. A recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program, an agency run by the US Department of Health and Human Services. In this widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, “scientists found that high exposure to 3G RF led to some cases of cancerous heart tumours, brain tumours, and tumours in the adrenal glands of male rats.”

But as RealClearScience points out in their response to the study, “the number of tumours detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects).”

“The level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats.”

“Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.”

The dangers of 5G - coming to a mobile phone near you | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Asiatimes.com

5G risks

A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them around our towns and cities. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighbourhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.”

Despite the estimate being exaggerated, the contention is reasonable.

But skeptics caution you shouldn’t conflate asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. The reality is that the power and frequency of the radiation is still less than light outside or even inside your office or home. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cellular towers and transmitters.

The US FCC, responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use, says that 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.

The FCC defers to the FDA concluding that the weight of scientific evidence has not linked mobile phones with any health problems.

But scientists will continue to test new networks as technology evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. Research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress. But the research will continue as the technology evolves and new claims will continue to be made asserting dangers from 5G.

SOURCES: US FCC | World Health Orginisation | howtogeek.com | Real Clear Science

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