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Thai Health Minister accepts chairman role with WHO Regional Committee

Maya Taylor



Thai Health Minister accepts chairman role with WHO Regional Committee | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World
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Thailand’s Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, has been appointed chair of the World Health Organisation’s Regional Committee for Southeast Asia. The colourful and controversial minister made the announcement at a press conference yesterday afternoon. He says 14 countries put his name forward for the role, which has a fixed term of 1 year, partly due to Thailand’s success in controlling the Covid-19 virus.

The committee is due to hold its first meeting today, where members are expected to discuss the Covid-19 situation in Southeast Asia and share tips and best practice ideas. Anutin says Southeast Asian nations are focused on the resumption of travel between their countries, adding that improving the Covid-19 situation across the region is critical in order to facilitate this.

Anutin is generally well-liked by the Thai public, although the same cannot be said for the country’s foreign population, many of whom were riled by what they saw as xenophobic comments made by him in the early weeks of the Covid outbreak, describing some foreigners as “dirty farang” for not accepting free masks as they were being handed out at a PR event at Siam BTS station in Bangkok in May this year.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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  1. Avatar

    Rinky Stingpiece

    September 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    It’s great news to have a qualified and experienced medical professional providing leadership on health and epidemiology in the region. Other parts of the world should take note and follow the success that the statistics show.

  2. Avatar

    Dirty Farang

    September 10, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Europe should leave the WHO comedy club as well.

  3. Avatar

    Michael Lewis

    September 10, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Social media reveals that Anutin is far from being popular amoung Thais. Are you promotinng him?

  4. Avatar


    September 10, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Geez Louise! A nutty thai guy as lead propagandist for SEA. Wait for the next fear and indoctrination campaign to start.

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Thailand planning land and rail passageway, bypassing congested Strait of Malacca

Maya Taylor



Thailand planning land and rail passageway, bypassing congested Strait of Malacca | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Shutterstock / The Jakarta Post

Thailand hopes to shorten shipping time by bypassing the busy Strait of Malacca with a 100 kilometre highway and railway passageway. Discussions are underway to construct 2 deep seaports on both sides of the country’s southern coast, which would be linked via rail and highway.

The latest proposal replaces the Kra Canal plan, which was talked about for decades. That plan would have seen a canal crossing the skinniest point of the country, through the Isthmus of Kra just south of Phuket and Krabi, chopping around 1,200 kilometres off the shipping journey. However, it has now been dropped on environmental grounds.

The new project is expected to reduce shipping time by 2 days by bypassing the Strait of Malacca, which runs along Peninsular Malaysia’s south-west coast, before curving east past Singapore. The passageway is notoriously congested, as well as being susceptible to piracy. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, incidents of piracy increased from 8 in 2018 to 30 last year.

Thailand planning land and rail passageway, bypassing congested Strait of Malacca | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Encyclopedia of Earth

Currently, around a quarter of globally traded goods use the Strait of Malacca, with Thailand’s Transport Minister, Saksiam Chidchob, saying an alternative route is now a necessity.

“The Strait has become quite congested. Using an alternative route through Thailand would cut shipping time by more than 2 days, which is very valuable for businesses.”

The alternative route would see a 100 kilometre highway and rail passageway linking 2 seaports on either side of Thailand’s southern coast. It’s understood the government has set 75 million baht aside for a study into the building of the seaports, along with a further 90 million baht to look into the feasibility of highway and rail connections between the two.

If the project went ahead it would be a major blow to Singapore which has built its fortune on being the south east Asian shipping and trading hub at the turning point at the bottom of the Mallaca Strait.

SOURCE: South China Morning Post

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Southeast Asia

UN decries “enforced disappearance”, calls for an end

Jack Burton



UN decries “enforced disappearance”, calls for an end | The Thaiger

The United Nations is calling on all countries in Southeast Asia to criminalise state abductions and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The organisation’s Human Rights Office says it’s “profoundly concerned” over continuing reports of enforced disappearances, after Wanchalearm Satsaksit, an activist living in exile, was abducted in Phnom Penh on June 4, becoming at least the ninth Thai pro-democracy activist to disappear from a neighbouring country since the 2014 coup.

2 of those activists, Chatcharn Buppawan and Kraidej Luelert, were found dead last year in the Mekong River on the Lao border, disembowelled and stuffed with concrete. Wanchalearm is still missing and his fate is unknown. A UN statement said:

“The time has come to end these heinous crimes in Southeast Asia. Strong commitments are needed by states to achieve that goal through adopting domestic legislation that meets international norms and standards and by fully implementing the Convention, including establishing appropriate domestic institutional mechanisms to investigate allegations of disappearances.”

Only 1 country in Southeast Asia, Cambodia, has ratified the International Convention, while 3 others, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos, are signatories but have not yet become party states.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has documented at least 1,301 unsolved cases of enforced disappearance in Southeast Asia, nearly half from the Philippines. In the past 3 years, cases of enforced disappearances have been reported in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Indonesia is also dealing with a historical legacy of disappearances, including many committed in East Timor.

“Enforced disappearance is one of the worst possible human rights violations that can be committed, robbing families of the knowledge, often forever, of the fate of their loved ones. Families have the right to know and it is the responsibility of every government to urgently resolve these cases, to put in place mechanisms to prevent it from occurring, and to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law.”

The UN says that in Southeast Asia, individuals are targetted for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Victims have included human rights defenders, environmental and political activists, government critics, lawyers and journalists.

“Impunity for this horrific act must end. Timely and credible investigations must be undertaken, the perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice and families provided the right to reparation.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Southeast Asia

AirAsia revenue nosedives 98%

Jack Burton



AirAsia revenue nosedives 98% | The Thaiger

As Asia’s budget airlines struggle for survival, AirAsia Group Wednesday reported its revenue plummeted 98% year-on-year. The unaudited consolidated second quarter results of AirAsia Group, identified as the Consolidated Group (Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia) 1 reported revenue of 119 million ringgit, (around 888 million baht) down 96% from 2.9 billion ringgit (21.6 billion baht) in the second quarter of 2019.

Revenue declined as capacity was significantly reduced due to the grounding of the fleet at the end of March, prior to a gradual resumption of domestic operations from the end of April as travel restrictions eased. It was also negatively impacted by 60 million ringgit (448 million baht) in refunds.

The Consolidated Group posted a loss in Q2 2020 of 5.1 billion baht, in comparison to 1.9 billion in 2019. The loss was attributed to a shortfall in revenue amidst subdued travel demand due to lockdowns and border restrictions worldwide.

As flights gradually resumed from the end of April, the Group saw an uptick in several key operational metrics in June compared to May, including triple the number of passengers carried by AirAsia Malaysia, doubling the number of passengers carried by AirAsia Thailand, and a 10% increase in load factor while reaching 6 times the number of passengers carried by AirAsia India, reflecting the strong rebound demand for air travel.

“We will be able to maintain sustainable operations on the back of our domestic services for the rest of the year if travel restrictions and border closures remain in place. Fares have been improving, and we believe that competitors will continue to price rationally. We managed to reduce airline operational expenses by 72% for the quarter with strict cost control and thanks to our staff taking pay cuts across the Group. 70% of our fuel hedging costs were restructured, and we have received support from lessors for deferrals, as seen in the 99% reduction in net cash used for financing activities in 2Q2020.”


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