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Police see political overtone in pipe bombs

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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


Police see political overtone in pipe bombs
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The twin pipe bombings near Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok last Sunday night were “very similar” to two other bombing incidents – the explosion at Samarn Metta Mansion in Nonthaburi in 2010, and an accidental bombing that killed two bomb carriers in Bangkok’s Min Buri district last year – deputy Royal Thai Police commander Gen Jakthip Chaijinda said yesterday.

“According to the police intelligence service, the bombs probably came from the same source – the containers for the bombs and the materiel used. There are connections between all of these,” he said.

Gen Jakthip said police had now ruled out a theory that the pipe bombs were planted by rival vocational students. “I have said all along that 80-90 per cent of bomb attacks [are found to be] politically motivated. These people will carry out attacks again when they have the chance,” he said.

Gen Jakthip quoted the driver of a taxi who drove the two suspects to the scene as saying they spoke Thai, and “one was good looking and the other so-so-looking.”

Police have acquired arrest warrants issued yesterday for the two suspects based on police sketches relying on footage from a surveillance camera. The two have been charged with premeditated murder, causing explosion deemed dangerous to others, and carrying around explosives without a good reason.

Spokesman Lt Gen Prawut Thawornsiri said police believed there were more individuals behind the bomb attacks than the two suspects seen in the footage. He said reports about the two suspects now fleeing to the far South could not be confirmed. Unlike Gen Jakthip, Gen Prawut offered no solid evidence linking the two men with any other groups.

A police source said the suspects were connected to a former Army paramilitary ranger, with expertise in explosives as an instructor, who was in custody after being arrested late last year in Lop Buri.

The source said the two suspects travelled to Bangkok by a commuter van and got off at a shopping complex, before hailing a taxi to Siam Paragon.

A joint military-police manhunt for the two men is underway while the probe is being extended to other individuals believed to be behind the bombings and their activities.

The source said the former ranger was allegedly involved in most recent incidents of political violence and his men were ready to operate when ordered.

The former ranger was also connected to groups of people in possession of war weapons in large caches hidden in Lop Buri and Samut Sakhon that were seized in military-led raids after the seizure of power in last May. These people were found to have had links with a woman living abroad who is a leader of a movement against Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the source said.

Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Lt Gen Sriwara Ransibrahmanakul said the pipe bombs used in the attacks near Siam Paragon had physical conditions similar to those used in a bomb that exploded accidentally and killed two people who were carrying it on a motorcycle. Police would still need to rely on evidence and other details about pipe-bomb attacks in other incidents, along with profiles and photos of bombers in more than 20 incidents since 2010 when political violence began.

He said seven teams of investigators were working on the case, seeking out the two suspects whose whereabouts were not known. As for the footage not showing the suspects’ faces clearly, he said police were also relying on a lead about their possible identity, while awaiting more tip-offs.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways corruption, Southern floods, Border Covid outbreak | Dec 3

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Thailand News Today | Thai Airways corruption, Southern floods, Border Covid outbreak | Dec 3 | The Thaiger

Thursday’s edition of Thailand News Today, including the latest in the local cases popping up in Northern Thailand. Thailand’s most watched English language news.

20 more people suspected of being involved in corruption at Thai Airways

20 people are now under suspicion of corruption and mismanagement within Thai Airways as accountants unravel the massive losses for the airline, spanning a decade

The news, announced by police and deputy head of the commission investigating the airline, comes as little surprise to anyone who has been following the demise of Thailand’s legacy airline. The airline is tackling a debt of around 300 billion baht.

The story follows many other tales of corruption and bad deals that have been part of a larger puzzle that is now being unraveled by accounts and committees who are handling the airlines’ bankruptcy.

Now, 20 people are suspected of corruption in 6 different parts of the company’s management.

The investigation into alleged corruption at the airline started in August. In September, 18 documents showing evidence of corruption and mismanagement at the airline was submitted to the Finance Ministry, still a major shareholder for Thai Airways.

The airline’s decision to buy 10 Airbus A340 aircraft for 100 billion baht in 2004 was catastrophic. The airline lost money on every single flight of these aircraft. All but 1 of them have been decommissioned and stored at the U-Tapao airport.

2 infected Thai women took domestic flights after illegal crossing from Myanmar

2 Thai women, both infected with Covid-19, took domestic flights after entering the Kingdom illegally from Myanmar and bypassing health checks and quarantine.

A total of 10 Thai women have now tested positive for Covid-19 after crossing the border from Myanmar, several having worked in the same hotel and entertainment establishment in the Burmese border town opposite Mae Sai in Chiang Rai.

Health officials are tracking and tracing anyone who could have been in contact with the women, a number well into the 100s. Some have travelled to Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Thai economists say new local Covid-19 cases will slow tourism recovery

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Social Development Council says that the mini outbreak in Northern Thailand will re-ignite fears of a second wave of infections in Thailand, stifling travel and tourism in the northern cities.

Operators already note that there has been a drop off of bookings and cancellations related to the publicity from the cross border infections. Airline bookings have also dropped off to both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Government to raise 5-year Elite visa fee by 20%, as foreigners flee Covid countries

As more foreigners opt for one of Thailand’s “elite” visas, allowing stays of between 5 and 20 years, and costing anything from 500,000 baht to 2 million, the most popular version is up for a price hike.

The cost of the 5-year “Easy Access” visa will go up by 20% from January, to 600,000 baht.

An additional 2,674 applicants signed up for an elite visa so far this year. That’s an increase of nearly 25%, with the scheme generating revenue of 1.6 billion baht.

By the end of September this year, over 11,100 people hold an elite visa in Thailand, as part of 9 different packages offered by Thailand Privilege Card.

Heavy rain wreaks havoc in flood-ravaged Nakhon Si Thammarat

The governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat has put the province on high alert, following 6 days of heavy rain in the southern province.

Nakhon Si Thammarat is directly east of Phuket, on the Gulf of Thailand.

Large swathes of land are underwater after extensive flooding that has affected tens of thousands of people in the region. Floods have been recorded in 351 villages in 15 districts, with some 48,000 people affected.

Heavy rain and flash flood warnings were issued for all southern provinces except Chumphon and Ranong

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Thailand

5 people killed in Nakhon Si Thammarat flash flooding

Caitlin Ashworth

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5 people killed in Nakhon Si Thammarat flash flooding | The Thaiger
PHOTO:ฉ่าริฟ ริฟ ดีนนุ้ย

5 people died from the flash floods in Nakhon Si Thammarat after several days of heavy rain, according to Governor Kraisorn Wisitwong. Disaster mitigation officers have rescued locals from several districts who had to evacuate their homes due to the extensive flooding.

The 5 deaths were in the districts Noppitam, Phra Phrom, Chalerm Phra Kiat and Chawang. Thousands of households have been affected by the rising waters. This morning, reports say 942 villages in 19 districts were flooded, affecting more than 180,000 people.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Tourism

4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry

Caitlin Ashworth

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4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry | The Thaiger

It could take 4 years for Thailand’s tourism industry to recover after being battered by the lack of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s reaction and the economic fallout, according to the Finance Ministry.

While local and international experts project Thailand’s economy will continue to recover over the next 2 years, the tourism industry, which directly contributes 12-15% of the country’s GDP, is forecasted to take at least 4 years to get back to the pre-pandemic level, if ever. Last year, Thailand had nearly 40 million foreign tourist arrivals, generating 2 trillion baht.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says he expects 8 million foreign tourists to arrive in 2021, followed by 16 million in 2022, 32 million in 2023 and 40 million in 2024. But the projections are just broad speculation.

No foreign tourists entered the country between April and September this year. In October, 1,201 foreign tourists were issued Special Tourist Visas for 90 day stays that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months in total. Under the current arrangements there will only be a trickle of tourists coming under the current regime including 14 day quarantine, at the tourist’s expense, and lots of paperwork and red tape.

IF Thailand does end up. with 8 million foreign tourist arrivals next year, and the cash subsidy scheme is extended, the country’s GDP is expected to expand by 4% to 4.5%, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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