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

Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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