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Phuket Media Watch: Flood Roundup

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

More than 1,000 suicidal following flood crisis

The Nation
PHUKET: More than 1,000 people whose lives have been disrupted by the floods in central Thailand are at risk of committing suicide, Disaster Mitigation Centre director Phanu Yaemsri said Friday.

Of more than 1.3 million Thais affected by the floods, 1,154 had been found to be suicide risks, he said.

Phanu said The Public Health Ministry had conducted psychiatric checkups on 114,815 people. Apart from those with suicide risk, 7,308 reported feelings of depression and 6,170 said they were under stress. Of these, 5,578 had been given medication while 1,786 were under special monitoring.

At least 533 people have died as a result of the floods and two people are missing.

Some 7,210 villages in 129 districts of 23 provinces are still under water.

Flood compensation payments approved

The Nation
PHUKET: The Flood Recovery and Restoration Committee has approved the Bt1.1 billion flood compensation for Bangkok residents and another Bt10 billion for flood-hit villagers.

Deputy Prime Minister and committee chair Yongyuth Wichaidit said some 640,000 Bangkok residents would be entitled for Bt5,000 compensation per family.

Next week the city authorities would start distributing leadlets advising the flood-hit residents on how to apply for the compensation which will paid out by the Government Savings Bank, he said.

In regard to houses destroyed partially or totally by the flooding, the government has yet to map out the compensation guidelines, he said.

Abhisit backs group set to sue the govt

The Nation
PHUKET: The opposition leader yesterday warned the government against having its supporters take a stand against the group planning to sue ruling politicians for their alleged failure to manage the flooding. Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party and former prime minister, said a confrontation like this would only lead to further political conflicts.

He said the government should be ready to undergo scrutiny by the civic sector and get ready to explain its alleged mismanagement of the crisis. Abhisit said the group – led by Chulalongkorn University economist Narong Phetprasert – had every right to sue those they believe are responsible for the disaster.

“Many people believe that this ongoing flood problem cannot be blamed on nature alone and has something to do with management as well. People have incurred damages that far exceed the government’s planned compensation,” Abhisit said.

The opposition leader said that although the authorities insist that more rainstorms than expected had hit the country, the government also stuck by its policy of retaining water in upstream dams for irrigation.

Abhisit also urged the government to place less focus on politicking, especially in relation to the ongoing flood crisis in the capital.

“I appeal for the government to stop politicising issues. They keep blaming the BMA, when in fact they should work together to help the people. This is not the time to get involved in a political conflict. The government should stop playing political games if they want to win public confidence,” he said.

Abhisit also said that he did not think it was time for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down or dissolve the House of Representatives.

“It’s the time to deal with the crisis. Political uncertainty will not benefit the country,” he said.

“The prime minister should show her efficiency in running the country and ensure unity in management and communications. This is the time to win confidence from Thais and the world community,” he advised.

Narong, leader of the group that plans to sue the state, said yesterday that he would speak to the Lawyers’ Council of Thailand on Monday about the scope of the action.
He said the group’s legal advisers agreed that it was possible for the group to file administrative, criminal and civil cases against the authorities, adding that the council had agreed to help them take their cases to court.

Narong said many people affected by the flooding supported his plan to sue the government. He said that though nature was partly to blame for the crisis, the government should also be held responsible for its poor management that resulted in severe floods in many areas of the country.

“The government knew there would be a lot of water this year, but it didn’t do anything to reduce the volumes. Floods were chest-high in some areas and that points to mismanagement of water,” the academic said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Pattaya

Another Thai man claims to have found a rare Melo pearl, shell was sold at a Pattaya market

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another Thai man claims to have found a rare Melo pearl, shell was sold at a Pattaya market | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

Another Thai man is claiming to have found a rare Melo pearl. The Pattaya chef says he bought a shell from a local market a decade ago and had no idea the object inside was a rare pearl. After hearing the news about the man in Nakhon Si Thammarat finding what he believes is a Melo pearl possibly worth millions of baht, 57 year old Patipat Hatthadon took the pearl off his shelf and brought it to the Gem and Jewelry Institution of Thailand where it was declared a real Melo pearl weighing 90.10 carats.

The chef bought the shell at the Larn Poe Market in Naklua 10 years ago. He found the pearl inside, but didn’t realise what it was. At first he thought the orange pearl was just a weight, like a lead ball some market vendor put inside to make the shells heavier and up the price.

“I tried to use a knife to pierce the pearl and determine what it was but it didn’t work and I had left it on a religious shelf for the past decade, unaware of what I potentially had.”

Patipat obtained a certificate from the institution. He’s keeping the pearl at a bank and he’s filed a report with Banglamung Police for legal protection due to the value of the pearl. It might be worth millions of baht. He says he’s already been contacted by numerous collectors from across the world. He’s currently considering the offers, he says.

Earlier this month, a Thai fisherman found what he believes to be a Melo pearl possibly worth 10 million baht. He found the pearl in a shell on a Nakhon Si Thammarat beach in Southern Thailand. The news coverage, both nationally and internationally, caught police attention who say the man is a suspect in a drug case. He was arrested 2 weeks ago at his home by the beach.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Drugs

Thailand law enforcement gets new “laser” narcotics analysers

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand law enforcement gets new “laser” narcotics analysers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Thailand law enforcement will now use a new “laser” narcotics analyser to test suspicious substances and chemicals in major drug busts. It’s apparently a more accurate method to identify illicit drugs than the current colour test. The new portable drug test happens to come a few months after Thailand claimed to have seized 11.5 tonnes of ketamine in the “biggest drug bust ever” and then discovered the substance was actually a cleaning agent.

In earlier reports, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the mistake was a “technical error” and the testing fluid had turned “purple,” a positive sign for ketamine. Somsak didn’t mention the failed ketamine bust when announcing that a pair of “portable Raman spectroscopy analysers” had been delivered to Thailand from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. He says the new tool is more accurate than the colour test.

“The new portable analysers utilise the Raman spectroscopy technique to identify suspicious drugs and chemicals in less than 30 seconds, and more accurately than the colour test method that we currently use.”

Not only can the device detect drugs, but apparently its laser can also detect additives like colouring and flavouring agents, according to Office of the Narcotics Control Board secretary general Wichai Chaimongkhol.

“The machine can detect chemicals either in powder, crystallised, tablet, capsule or liquid form… Its laser can penetrate transparent containers or wrapping of up to 2mm thickness and read the scattering of light to identify the substance accurately, reducing the risk of officials handling harmful chemicals while also helping preserve the evidence.”

The tool is planned to be used to identify suspicious drugs and chemicals that are smuggled across the border as well as at airports and seaports.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Politics

Civil rights activist contests new version of NGO bill

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Civil rights activist contests new version of NGO bill | The Thaiger

A civil rights activist is accusing Thailand’s cabinet of revising a law without gaining the public’s input. The new version of the bill, which is supposed to dictate transparency in the promotion and development of civil society organisations, includes the words “non‐profit,” while the original version does not.

The bill is also supposed to provide oversight of NGOs who may receive financial assistance from overseas sources. According to Bangkok Post, an unnamed source says such NGOs are under scrutiny, especially the ones who accuse Thai authorities of violating human rights and then use such claims to seek funds.

Sappasit Khumprapan, chairman of the Centre for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation, is also the chairman of a subcommittee drafting the bill. He says he will challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court if the word “non‐ profit” is not dropped before it is sent to the House of Representatives. Sappasit says the law is “extremely rightist” and says it should be improved before reaching the House.

Civil society organisations under the revised law must register as non‐profit entitites with the Interior Ministry’s Department of Provincial Administration while disclosing their audited accounts, annual income taxes and fund sources each year.

But deputy government spokeswoman, Rachada Dhnadirek, says the law is intended to increase the monitoring of NGOs.

“The draft law is intended to promote transparency and accountability, not to stifle their activities.”

Rachada says if these NGOs receive funds from non-Thai citizens or organisations, they are limited to spending the money on activities allowed by Thai law. So far, despite Thailand having thousands of NGOs, only 87 have been registered.

Thailand’s PM Prayut says the law must not be discussed in detail to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. The proposed bill will be submitted for public hearings, with input from those hearings to be sent to the Council of State for review.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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