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Prayuth apologises for bikini remark after global outcry

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Prayuth apologises for bikini remark after global outcry
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday apologized for his bikini remarks in the face of an international outcry. Britain raised concerns after the junta leader suggested tourists in bikinis could be more vulnerable to attack.

“I want to apologise for everything if my remark was too harsh and caused misunderstanding,” Prayuth said.

“I’m sorry that it hurt people. I have too much pressure and feel sorry about the loss [of lives] whether they are Thais or foreigners.”

Prayuth on Wednesday drew condemnation after questioning the safety of female tourists in the Kingdom.

His remarks came just two days after the battered bodies of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found on the southern resort island of Koh Tao.

“They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere,” Prayuth, who is also the junta chief, told top government officials during a policy address.

“[But] can they be safe in bikinis … unless they are not beautiful?”

The premier insisted that he did not intend to insult or blame anyone but just wanted to warn people to be more careful when travelling.

He said he contacted the British embassy to clear up the matter and would explain further in his weekly television programme today.

He said Thailand was still safe but, like other places in the world, bad people existed here, adding that he had instructed security officials to implement tough measures to protect tourists.

“Police must arrest the culprit [in the murder of Miller and Witheridge],” he said.

Deputy government spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the British embassy in Bangkok had contacted the PM’s personal aides seeking clarification following the remarks.

“We told them that the PM is ready to apologize if the remarks caused concern and affected the relationship between the two countries,” Sansern said.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that many Thais had reacted with outrage on social media.

It said one Facebook user labelled the comments “unbelievable and makes me ashamed that my country has anything to do with such uneducated and ignorant views”.

“A Twitter user asked rhetorically whether Thailand was to become ‘the first Buddhist country to adopt the burka as swimwear for women’,” author and commentator SP Somtow told DPA.

“It might bear pointing out that traditional Thai wear for women is topless. Much of what people think is morality is stuff that Christian missionaries brought over. It is not our culture.”

Pavida Pananond, a political economy professor at Thammasat University, said the premier’s comments “reflect a deep-rooted sexist belief that rape is caused by women acting or dressing improperly, not by men behaving unacceptably”.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Drugs

240 kilograms of marijuana found in truck after police chase, driver still on the run

Caitlin Ashworth

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240 kilograms of marijuana found in truck after police chase, driver still on the run | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Esan Daily Online

Border patrol officers chased a pickup truck and seized 240 kilograms of marijuana they say was smuggled across the Thai-Laos border. In the chase, the driver allegedly drove into oncoming traffic, hitting another car before ditching his vehicle and running off.

Officers say they believe the marijuana was smuggled across the Mekong River from Laos and then it was piled in the truck at the border province Nong Khai. After receiving a tip about a truck smuggling marijuana in the Nong Khai province, officers caught up with the truck in Mukdahan.

When officers followed the bronze Toyota pickup truck, the truck suddenly swerved across the median and drove against the flow of traffic before colliding with an oncoming car. The driver then got out of the truck and ran off. Police say there were no injuries.

Officers searched the truck and found 240 bars of dried marijuana. Each compressed bar weighed 1 kilogram. The truck was also confiscated by the customs office. Police are still investigating. The driver has not been found.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing PM over transfer

Maya Taylor

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Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing PM over transfer | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandtip.info

The former head of Thai Immigration, Surachet Hakparn, is taking legal action against PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, after the PM had him transferred to an inactive post last year. Surachet, commonly known by the nickname “Big Joke”, accuses the PM of transferring him without just cause and has been petitioning for a review of the decision, to no avail.

Following a complaint lodged with the Central Administrative Court, Surachet’s lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says that in the 1 year and 5 months since his client’s transfer, there has been no investigation launched against him. Surachet accuses the PM of an abuse of power in ordering the transfer, pointing to a lack of investigations from either the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, or the Office of the Auditor-General.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2018, Surachet’s face was everywhere in the media, appearing as he did alongside errant foreigners who’d overstayed their visas, or criminals involved in drug offences. But at some point, he appears to have stepped on the wrong toes, calling into question procurement practices at the Immigration Bureau, amid plans to spend billions on smart cars and the much-lauded airports biometrics system. The upshot was his removal from office, while the purchases went ahead.

Since then, little was heard from the former immigration chief, until his parked car was shot at in January of this year. Although caught on CCTV, the 2 perpetrators, who were riding a motorbike, were wearing full-face helmets and could not be identified. In July, Surachet was seen making merit at a temple, where he said he was praying to be allowed return to his former duties.

Sitthi points out that most officials who were previously transferred to the PM’s Office have now been re-instated, after investigations cleared them of any offences. He insists that with no grounds to justify his transfer, Surachet must also be re-instated, adding that with the PM unwilling to act, his client will seek justice in the courts.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Spas could become quarantine facilities, Krabi first in line for the project

Caitlin Ashworth

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Spas could become quarantine facilities, Krabi first in line for the project | The Thaiger
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Spas could become state quarantine facilities. The Department of Health Service Support is looking into a proposal that would turn Thai massage parlours and spas into quarantine. The project would start in Krabi.

A 14 day quarantine at a state approved hotel can cost 30,000 baht to more than 100,000 baht. It’s unclear what the cost would be for a 2 week stay at a spa, but it would probably be pricey.

Right now, the spa quarantine idea is being talked about in a Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration subcommittee. It would be another 2 weeks before the project is approved by the administration, according to the department’s director general Thares Krasnairawiwong.

Thares says that under the proposed spa quarantine plan, clients must pass a Covid-19 check and pay the full cost of the quarantine within 72 hours of arriving. They also must have an insurance policy from their home country.

Thailand hotels and other tourism businesses are getting ready for an influx of foreigners coming in on the newly approved Special Tourist Visa. It allows a 90 day stay and can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months.

Those tourists have been required to quarantine for 14 days, although it has been discussed that they may need to go through quarantine in their home country before arriving in Thailand.

People entering the country are tested twice for Covid-19, usually at the start of the 14 day quarantine and again before they are released.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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