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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck ditches Prem; Suthep welcomed at Health Ministry; 9 killed in Songkran drive

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck ditches Prem; Suthep welcomed at Health Ministry; 9 killed in Songkran drive | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

PM misses Prem meeting
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was absent yesterday from a gathering to pay their respects to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, leaving only commanders of the Armed Forces with him.

Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn led Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Navy Commander Admiral Narong Pipatanasai and National Police Chief Adul Saengsingkaew to pay their respects to Prem as per the New Year tradition at Songkran.

Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha was also present at the event, as president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand.

Prem thanked the commanders for their gestures although the former commander retired from the Army more than three decades ago.

“It is good to see all three of the Armed Forces’ commanders and police chief come to me every year. This shows we all have friendship and I have the Armed Forces as good friends,” he said. “I feel comfortable to see the unity among us.

“If we unite, the country will be secure. The Armed Forces would have power over those who have bad plans to hurt our nation,” Prem said.

“As His Majesty the King said many times, we have to perform our duty with honour. We also have to look at our people to have them perform their duties honestly. “General Tanasak plus the military and police commanders have many hard tasks to achieve these days. If we unite and do our jobs and have our men to do their jobs as well, people can rely on us, so that people will love, respect and trust the military and police,” Prem said.

Meeting with the top adviser to His Majesty the King is interpreted as a political signal to show that General Prem retains high influence over the Armed Forces. Prem’s support for any groups would be significant for political developments in the Kingdom.

Good ties

At an Army event on Thursday, Prem said he would not be able to mediate negotiations between Yingluck and Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee. Prem said the two sides would not listen to him.

Usually the defence minister leads the commanders to pay respect to Prem to show that the government has good ties to him. Yingluck currently holds the Defence portfolio.

She did not respond when she was asked on Thursday if she would lead commanders to see Prem at Songkran. The caretaker prime minister faces many political and legal challenges because of the prolonged anti-government protests concentrated in Bangkok and will spend her time over the holiday break quietly in Chiang Mai, her home province. She may not appear to celebrate the festival in public as usual this year, a source said.

Defence Ministry permanent secretary Nipat Thonglek did not attend the commanders’ gathering at Prem’s residence yesterday.

A military source said Supreme Commander Tanasak had asked the Defence Ministry if Yingluck would lead the commanders to see Prem, but she made no clear instruction this year. Tanasak later decided to lead the commanders to see Prem on his own, the source said.

Meeting with Prem requires a formal letter for an appointment in advance, of at least three days up to a week, the source said.

However, the Privy Council chief did not say anything about the absence of the prime minister, according to the source close to the meeting yesterday, who suggested the gathering had no political agenda.

In 2012, Yingluck visited Prem on the occasion of Songkran. Last year Prem did not open his home for such greetings.

During the New Year, Yingluck led the military top brass to greet Prem for that occasion. Earlier, in August, Yingluck greeted Prem on his 94th birthday.

Separately, at the Royal Thai Army headquarters, Prayuth said he hoped the political situation would get better after the traditional Songkran events, which let people make merit and pay respect to their seniors. But he said all sides of society should join together to help restore peace and order for the country.

Nevertheless, he vowed not to allow violence, which some expect amid rising political tension after Songkran.

Health officials ask Suthep for reform in sector and an embrace
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Top Public Health Ministry officials yesterday submitted a blueprint for reform of the country’s public health system during their meeting with leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Public health permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahametapat and his deputy Dr Wachira Pengjuntr welcomed PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban and thousands of anti-government protesters who visited the ministry to ask officials to side with them.

Narong also gave a warm hug to Suthep before hundreds of officials blowing whistles and waving small national flags at the ministry’s secretariat building.

Suthep gave a gold whistle to Narong, who said he accepted the whistle on behalf of officials in the entire ministry. Other groups of senior medical workers – such as the ministry’s former permanent secretary Dr Paichit Warachit, the Medical Council’s president Somsak Lohlekha, Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council’s president Krissada Sawaengdee – and hundreds of health volunteers welcomed Suthep.

Narong said he had proposed a blueprint to reform the country’s public health system to the PDRC and he understood the committee was worried about the health issue.

He said he and the PDRC had the same idea to strengthen the country’s public health system and needed a mechanism to check and balance power.

The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) has issued a warning to state officials and civil servants not to support or join the PDRC’s demonstration. Narong said when asked to explain to the CAPO about his political stance, he insisted he had done nothing wrong.

Paichit said he was not worried about the current situation at the ministry, adding that officials must be the main pillar in resolving the country’s crisis.

“Reformation must come from the participation of all people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Suthep said both PDRC and Public Health officials have the same ideas about a fight to improve the country. It was not a fight for a political party but for a country and benefit of the people.

“This was the first time PDRC and top officials of the Public Health Ministry had officially met each other. We will take the ministry’s blueprint to resolve the country’s crisis,” Suthep told his supporters at the ministry.

Meanwhile, outgoing National Security Council secretary general Paradorn Pattanatabutr said the authorities would not allow a situation like this – in which Suthep and other PDRC leaders visit bureaucrats at different ministries – to continue any longer.

“We can’t allow this to go on any more. This is political psychology. If we allow this to continue, it will bring negative developments for the government,” Paradorn said.

He said some permanent secretaries that Suthep visited even invited the PDRC leader into their offices.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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

Caitlin Ashworth

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

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.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

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

The Thaiger

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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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Protests

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

Caitlin Ashworth

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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.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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