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Probe into Japanese ‘dad’ eyes baby trafficking intent

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Probe into Japanese ‘dad’ eyes baby trafficking intent | The Thaiger
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Probe into Japanese ‘dad’ eyes baby trafficking intent
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police are looking into whether the 13 babies purportedly linked to surrogacy services were meant to be trafficked, as evidence suggests a Japanese man fathered at least nine infants via surrogate mothers.

Shigeta Mitsutoki, 24, left Thailand early on Thursday after authorities started investigating. The nine babies he is linked to are now under the care of a state-run centre.

In late March and early July, he arrived in Thailand alone but left with an infant.

The clinic that allegedly provided him the surrogacy services, All IVF, has been closed for operating without a proper licence.

“It’s registered as a medical facility but not as one offering fertility treatments,” Health Service Support Department director-general Boonrueang Trairueangworarat said yesterday.

He said All IVF was closed because without a proper licence its services could cause serious harm or even deaths to others.

He said doctors involved would face a probe by the Medical Council and could lose their licences.

The owner of the clinic faces a jail term and a fine for his failure to ensure that services provided were in line with proper standards.

Although Thailand does not yet have specific laws to control surrogacy, the Medical Council bans paid surrogacy and requires surrogate mothers be either an in-law or a relative of couples seeking help.

Dr Pisit Tantiwattanakul, whose name was used to open All IVF, could not be reached for comment.

Pol Colonel Naphanwut Liamsa-nguan, who heads the Children and Women Protection Subdivision, said police were gathering evidence to determine whether the nine babies linked to Mitsutoki were born through All IVF and who else was involved.

“We have received some useful evidence even though the clinic has clearly relocated its patients’ history files,” he said during a search of the Bangkok business.

Police discovered the nine babies reportedly fathered by Mitsutoki at a Bangkok condo on Tuesday after receiving a tip from locals.

Thais have become acutely aware of the darker side of surrogacy in the wake of the huge media coverage over Gammy, a baby boy with Down’s syndrome allegedly abandoned by an Australian couple. They reportedly hired a Thai woman to be a surrogate mother but left Thailand only with Gammy’s healthy twin sister.

The surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, yesterday admitted that she had recruited surrogates twice.

“But I don’t do that any more,” she said.

Pattaramon was recruited by a woman called “Joy”, who insisted that she was not a surrogacy agent but was hired as a coordinator for a fertility clinic.

“My employer is an American,” Joy said yesterday. She also confirmed Pattaramon’s declared love for Gammy.

Joy said Pattaramon refused to undergo an abortion when tests showed Gammy had Down’s syndrome. “After childbirth, she has decided to raise Gammy on her own,” Joy said.

An informed source said Ohno Yuki, 17, was Mitsutoki’s assistant and she left Thailand for Cambodia on the day police raided the condo where the babies were found.

Available records show Mitsutoki also had a Cambodian passport and he used it for travelling in and out of Thailand 14 times. He used two Japanese passports to travel in and out of Thailand 52 times.

An informed source said it was not unusual for Japanese citizens to hold Cambodian passports, which are issued to Japanese investors.

Naphanwut said it appeared Mitsutoki’s sole interest in coming to Thailand related to babies.

A Japanese official said the name Shigeta Mitsutoki was common.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Today marks the end of tourist visa amnesty

The Thaiger & The Nation



Today marks the end of tourist visa amnesty | The Thaiger

Today is the end of the Thai government’s visa amnesty for those staying in the country on tourist visas. The amnesty was originally given 6 months ago after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of borders and suspended international flights. Despite calls for the government to extend the amnesty yet again from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the government has not made any announcements that would allow those on tourist visas to stay in the country legally after today’s end date.

For those tourists still stranded in Thailand, they would have needed to provide a letter from their respective embassies that would provide proof that they are unable to travel out of the country by today’s date. Such reasons include medical, flight availability or the Covid situation remaining poor in their home countries. Those who have not provided a letter or have not sorted their visas by today’s date will reportedly face overstay fines of 500 baht per day with a maximum of 20,000 baht in total fines. Other repercussions include being arrested, imprisoned, deported and/or blacklisted from entering Thailand for certain periods that coincide with the amount of time overstayed.

The Royal Thai Immigration has warned numerous times of the approaching end date and what could happen to those who fail to fix their visas properly, however, some immigration centres are open today and/or extending the end date to Monday as the last chance to sort out visas. Such centres are located in Chiang Mai and other provinces, giving foreigners an extra day without receiving an overstay fine.

Today’s end date has some in disagreement over Thailand’s handling of the situation, with critics saying the hard line stance is set to turn off future tourists from the country as well as taking away the only income that some businesses are receiving during the battered economy. Such tourists who are staying for a long time need accommodations that undoubtedly help such businesses stay afloat when international tourists are unable to enter the kingdom.

Regardless, today is the day and if those on tourist visas don’t get their situation sorted, it could land them in hot water with immigration authorities. Officials recommend all foreigners to carry their passports in the next few weeks as they have announced that immigration police will be performing check ups to ensure that those staying after the deadline have valid visas.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News


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Government to stir economy with 100 billion baht stimulus starting in October

The Thaiger & The Nation



Government to stir economy with 100 billion baht stimulus starting in October | The Thaiger

The Thai Government is expected to stimulate the economy with 100 billion baht boost starting in October until the end of the year. The injection will reportedly come from both the people’s and the government’s spending under three stimulus measures according to the Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow.

The first measure will reportedly give 14 million welfare cardholders an extra 500 baht discount over the next 3 months on their shopping with the budget for this measure totalling 21 billion baht. The second measure, dubbed “Kon La Khreung” or Let’s Go Halves, will give 10 million people up to 100 baht discounts daily on beverages and household essentials with the subsidy being capped at 3,000 baht per person. The scheme will not, however, include such things as alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

The third measure is aimed at wealthier Thais as tax incentives and will be offered in an effort to encourage them to spend more as consumers. The Cabinet has also approved a measure to pay 260,000 new graduates half of their salary to help the private sector. That budget is reportedly totaling 19.5 billion baht.

Supattanapong also predicts the economy will improve next year but warns it could take 2 years before the nation’s economic growth returns to the pre-Covid level. He says the country’s current budget is sufficient to boost the economy unless there is a second wave of Covid.

“But in the event that there is a second wave, the government is prepared to borrow more as its national debt is quite low compared to other countries. However the government is being cautious so it can remain financially healthy in the post-Covid era.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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“Bad Student” movement by high-schoolers continues fight against authorities

The Thaiger



“Bad Student” movement by high-schoolers continues fight against authorities | The Thaiger

A movement, dubbed by some of Thailand’s high-schoolers as ‘Bad Student’, is advancing the fight against education authorities as students are trying to break up the country’s strict, or as they claim, archaic, education system. The movement’s name takes after a university student activitst’s book about his experiences in a government high school. The recent rebellion of students coincides with the recent massive Thammasat University anti-government protests in Bangkok, which are demanding reform of the government, constitution and revered Monarchy. 17 year old Peka Loetparisanyu tells Reuters that their rights are being violated.

“There’s a viral saying that ‘our first dictatorship is school’.”

Some of the students are reportedly wearing white ribbons, cutting their hair in public and showing the now popular protest symbol of the 3-finger salute, reminiscent of the Hunger Games movie franchise, during the morning national anthem which is a requirement at all government schools.

Supporters of the pro-democracy movement say Thailand’s education system is more about compliance rather than education as its rigid rules require students to dress in uniforms, have a certain length of hair and conform to specific hairstyles. The white ribbons being adorned by some of the high-schoolers represent “purity of the students” whilst the 3-fingered salute is being used as a call for democracy.

But their seemingly rebellious actions have not gone completely unnoticed by officials as the Thai Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan earlier this year softened hair length and style rules for government schools.

“I feel that by listening to them, I’m giving them an opportunity to voice their concern safely.”

Such rebellious acts by students have led to parents being outraged over teachers reprimanding students and occasionally humiliating them publicly. Just this year, a student was given an ‘ugly haircut’by a teacher in front of her peers after she showed up to school with a hairstyle that did not precisely meet the requirements.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times


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