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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck graft probe deadline stays; Three arrested for Indonesian Navy murders; Thai satellite spots MH370 debris

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck graft probe deadline stays; Three arrested for Indonesian Navy murders; Thai satellite spots MH370 debris | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

NACC rejects PM’s request to extend deadline
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Anti-Corruption Commission yesterday refused to extend the deadline for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to file her defence against the charge of dereliction of duty in overseeing the rice-pledging scheme.

The NACC decided that she had already been allowed sufficient time, secretary-general Sansern Poljiak said.

On Monday, the 15-day extension for the PM to defend herself would end. The NACC had earlier given her 30 days to answer the charge of dereliction of duty.

Unless Yingluck submits her arguments in person or in writing, by Monday, the NACC would assume she had no objection to the NACC’s investigation report, Sansern said.

If she is indicted by the NACC, she will be suspended from office.

Norawit Larlaeng and Bancha Porameesanaporn from her legal team yesterday asked the NACC to grant her 45 more days to prepare her case.

Norawit said the team had received 280 pages of additional documents from the NACC but they were not the ones requested.

The team was also waiting for reports from 10 government agencies, he said.

Yingluck needed to study all of these materials or else she would be at a disadvantage, he said.

The NACC’s Sansern also said the anti-graft body had ordered a further investigation into the impeachment proceedings against former House speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont for his role in the unconstitutional amendment of the charter.

In the same case, the NACC last week decided to propose the impeachment of outgoing Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij, in his capacity as Parliament vice president, for abusing his constitutional authority and cutting short a debate despite the agenda listing several legislators waiting to take the floor.

The Senate has yet to vote on his impeachment.

The People’s Radio for Democracy group, a red-shirt faction that has been protesting in front of the NACC head office and has threatened to use concrete barriers and “bioweapons” to block the building, had still not done so.

Thai satellite spots possible debris
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A Thai satellite has detected 300 floating objects in the Indian Ocean, about 200 kilometres from the area where a search is being conducted for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Anond Snidvongs, executive director of Geo Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda), said the Thailand Earth Observation Satellite or Thaichote had recorded the objects in the Indian Ocean on Monday at 10am.

This site is about 2,700 kilometres from Perth, Australia, and some 200 kilometres from the area where the flight is believed to have crashed. Some objects were more than two metres long, Anond said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Science Minister Peerapan Palusuk said the satellite, which orbits the Earth, was initially cover other areas but was moved to where foreign satellites had reportedly detected debris. Then on Monday, Thaichote captured images of several floating objects beyond the location mentioned by the foreign satellites.

The minister added that he was glad Thailand could help Malaysia in the hunt for the missing jet.

Anond explained that Gistda had been contacted by several foreign space agencies, who wanted Thaichote to look in the southern Indian Ocean to the southwest of Perth and on Monday, it recorded images of possibly as many as 300 objects in the area.

“The resolution of the images on Thaichote were not good enough even after we removed noise such as waves and clouds. We are confident that what we saw were floating objects, but we can’t say what they are,” Anond said. He pointed out that in an area that is so far from land, there should not be so many floating objects. Though Gistda has said it will try to verify the accuracy of the location again, the job might be tough as there is no station on land to confirm it.

“We will capture images at the same location again,” he said, adding that he believed the error margin for the location calculated from the images should be no greater than 5 kilometres, adding that Malaysia and relevant agencies would be asked to verify the objects.

Anond said the findings had already been submitted to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and that Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichak-chaikul had forwarded them to his Malaysian counterpart to see if the debris could be that of MH370.

The Thaichote satellite is normally used to observe natural resources.

Using data derived from “pings” from the plane, UK satellite firm Inmarsat concluded that the flight had crashed in the Indian Ocean and all passengers were presumed dead. Though a satellite image showed 122 objects in the Indian Ocean, search teams have yet to find them.

Reinstated NSC chief could be prosecuted, Paradorn says
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: National Security Council secretary-general Thawil Pliensri risks being prosecuted for taking to the anti-government rally stage and may have a hard time working at the NSC, former secretary-general Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatabut said.

Paradorn made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Nation News Agency’s Jeerapong Prasertpolkrung and Anapat Deechuay.

The Cabinet on Tuesday resolved to accept the Supreme Administrative Court’s order that Thawil be reinstated to his post. The court had earlier ruled that caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s order to transfer him out of his post was unlawful.

Paradorn has now swapped positions with Thawil as prime minister’s adviser on security.

Responding to the fact that Thawil is among 58 leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) who face summonses by police, Paradorn said the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) would have to take action against him in accordance with its authority, and prosecutors were likely to indict him.

“The government has the power to consider whether [Thawil’s action] is a criminal offence or a disciplinary one,” he said.

“Do not forget that the stage that he took to belongs to someone [PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban] who [allegedly] broke the law and faces arrest warrants.”

Right after the court ruling on Thawil’s reinstatement this month, Chalerm Yoobamrung director of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), sidelined Thawil and said he would not have a role at the centre.

Paradorn said his new role involves screening policies on intelligence, security and the military proposed by Thawil to the government.

“Working in the security field, your boss must fully trust you, otherwise there will be problems or finally you cannot continue your work,’ Paradorn said.

Asked to comment about the frequent politically initiated transfers in the NSC, Paradorn said the Cabinet was empowered by the law to transfer government officials of Levels 10 and 11.

He said officials must follow the order since the people elect the government to run the country.

“If you

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thai sex workers push for prostitution decriminalisation

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai sex workers push for prostitution decriminalisation | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

“The Royal Thai Police says just last year more than 24,000 people were arrested.”

Prostitution could become further decriminalised in Thailand. A petition is being passed around calling on the government to stop arresting and fining sex workers. The Empower Foundation, which supports sex worker, is trying to collect 1,000 signatures before they send it to parliament. ‘EMPOWER’, aka. the Centre for Sex Workers’ Protection or Moolniti Songserm Okard Pooying, is a non-profit organisation in Thailand that supports sex workers by offering free classes in language, health, law and pre-college education, as well as individual counselling.

“Prostitution is not illegal in Thailand, although many activities associated with it are (brothels, pimping, causing a public nuisance etc.). Nevertheless, it was estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year in revenue in 2015, accounting for a significant portion of the national GDP” – Wikipedia

Parts of the prostitution industry were made illegal in the 1960s. Today, many go go bars, massage parlours and popular red light districts marketed to foreign tourists are known for soliciting sex, but most of the sex industry actually caters to Thai men.

Activists say prostitution laws do little to protect sex workers. Fines and arrests for soliciting sex, have pushed some sex workers into poverty, most of them being women, according to Mai Junta, a representative from Empower.

“The law punishes sex workers, 80% of whom are mothers and the main breadwinner for the whole family… It turns us into criminals.”

If charged with prostitution, sex workers could face a fine up to 40,000 baht and up to 2 years in prison. The Royal Thai Police says just last year more than 24,000 people were arrested, prosecuted and fined for offences related to prostitution. And people who pay for sex with underage workers can face up to 6 years in prison, according to the Reuters Foundation. Reuters did not report on what penalities people face who pay an adult for sex.

There were an estimated 123,530 sex workers in Thailand, according to a 2014 report from a United Nations agency. But a local prostitution advocacy groups says there are probably at least twice that number in reality. Many sex workers are migrants from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In Pattaya, alone, there were estimated to be over 30,000 prostitutes working before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Thailand and closed the borders.

Surang Janyam, director of the Service Workers in Group, a local organisation for sex workers, says the workers’ rights need to be recognised and protected.

“With thousands of sex workers, the industry brings in a significant amount of income to Thailand and sex workers should be protected under labour laws rather than punished under prostitution laws”, according to

“The sex industry generates massive income for the country, but there is no mechanism to protect sex workers.”

The government is already working on amending the country’s prostitution laws, according to a spokesperson from the women’s affairs department at Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The spokesperson says public hearings would start next year, but did not say what the proposed amendments would be.

“We are aware of complaints regarding rights violations of sex workers due to this law… and we are not neglecting their suggestions to repeal the law.”

Thailand has had a long history of officially shunning the country’s sex industry, some officials even going so far in the past to say that “it does not exist” in Thailand. But unofficially there is a huge underground cash economy which thrives in Thailand’s popular red light hot spots. Read more HERE.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends

The Thaiger

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Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Meandering Tales

A holiday-led economic recovery. That appears to be a part of the government’s agenda following yesterday’s meeting of the Thai cabinet. 2 new holiday weekends have been created, one in November, one in December, in efforts to further stimulate the economy. In both cases the extended weekends will be 4 days each, adding the Thursdays and Fridays before the weekend.

Tip: Book any flights early to get the best discount on tickets if you intend to fly anywhere for the newly scheduled long weekends.

Given the exodus of foreigner this week, there will be fewer of the ‘stranded’ expats and foreign visitors to add to the economic tally of the additional holidays.

The 2 long weekends have now been approved and Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha specifically noted that they were intended to stimulate local tourism. A similar 4-day long weekend at the start of this month was a relative success encouraging Thais to go on short breaks, but it did little for the the mostly deserted tourist streets of Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui.

The 2 new long weekends were proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

In November there will be an extended 4 day weekend which will run from November 19-22 with the Thursday and Friday declared special holiday. The break will fall in the middle of the scheduled school term break between November 13 and December 1. The term break was pushed forward due to the late start of the school term because of the Covid-19 situation in Thailand the late return to class by students.

The school break was pushed back from next month to November due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the current school term to start late.

The second new holiday, in December, will be Thursday, December 10 – Sunday, December 13. Constitution Day falls on December 10 and the annual Father’s Day holiday on December 5 has now been pushed back to the following Friday, to create the extended weekend.

So, put it in your diaries…

• November 19-22

• December 10-13

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Tourism

Thai hotels concerned extra holidays may not benefit all

Maya Taylor

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Thai hotels concerned extra holidays may not benefit all | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Katie Musial on Unsplash

As the Cabinet confirms two additional long weekends in November and December, the country’s hotels are concerned that not all operators will benefit. The extra holidays, running from November 19 to 22, and from December 10-13, are being introduced to further boost domestic tourism. Although they have been given a cautious welcome by hotel operators, the Thai Hotels Association points out that some properties will benefit more than others.

The Bangkok Post reports that the THA is concerned about domestic tourists’ ongoing purchasing power, due to a number of holiday weekends taking place recently, including the Songkran replacement holidays in July and again earlier this month. The association says there’s a chance only those who can afford another trip will travel during the November and December holidays, and their spending power means they’re more likely to book higher end, 5-star properties.

THA president, Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, says not everyone will be able to afford air tickets, in addition to hotel accommodation and the cost of leisure activities at their destination. If only the wealthier can travel, they are also more likely to favour luxury accommodation.

“When luxury hotels have more affordable prices after enrolling in domestic stimulus campaigns, tourists who still have strong purchasing power will pick these hotels first.”

Marisa adds that with all properties sharing the same small pool of target customers, namely Thai citizens and expats, competition is tough. She is calling on the government to provide additional incentives to help operators outside of the luxury, 5-star category. The THA acknowledges that the November and December holidays are likely to provide a boost for hotels in the north of the country, which is usually popular during the winter season.

During the recent holidays, hotel bookings were up 20 – 30%, with some hotels enjoying a 40% increase due to their location. Marisa says the huge slump in international tourists means properties are now relying on government conferences and seminars to make up some of the shortfall. However, the delay in budget spending from October will have a negative impact.

“Hotels should have higher bookings from state agencies for October, but the delayed budget has stagnated this segment.”

With most operators still struggling with debts, the THA is calling on the Finance Ministry to extend the debt moratorium and to create a tourism fund whereby hotels can use their shares to avail of loans, re-purchasing the shares once financial stability returns.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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