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Thailand News: Govt warns scammers; ACMECS single visa today; optimism for tourism

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand News: Govt warns scammers; ACMECS single visa today; optimism for tourism | The Thaiger

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

Govt warns scammers as Thailand is named top destination
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Thailand has long been ranked as one of the world’s best tourist destinations, with so many awards under its belt. However, the Kingdom’s tourism industry is not untainted.

Now that Thailand has finally made it to the Huffington Post’s list of top 20 destinations for New Year celebrations, the government is calling on all Thais to look after tourists in their neighborhoods.

This plea comes as Thailand’s reputation continues getting dealt one blow after another from reports about scams and crimes against foreigners.

Just recently, the Sydney Morning Herald published an article warning Australian tourists to be wary of extortion gangs in Phuket, some of who are allegedly in cahoots with local police.

Australian Ambassador to Thailand James Wise and his British counterpart, Mark Kent, have joined the Tourism Ministry’s campaign to tackle tourist scams in the resort-island of Phuket. The key scams involve taxi and jet-ski operators in both Phuket and Pattaya, the article said.

In addition to all this, two Russian nationals were robbed and raped in Chon Buri late on Christmas Day.

The women, in their early 30s, told police that they were forced into a pick-up truck at gunpoint while they were walking back to their hotel. They claimed they were attacked by three men, who did not just rob them of their cash, cellphones and jewellery, but also assaulted them sexually.

The women, who were left to fend for themselves in a forested area, came upon a house and begged for help. The owners of the house contacted the police for them.

“We will hunt down the attackers,” Pattaya police inspector Pol Lt-Colonel Patsa Dejparkkul promised.

Thailand needs to take serious steps in stopping crimes against tourists, otherwise its appeal as a great destination might fade.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said yesterday that the issue of travelers’ safety had been raised and discussed in the latest Cabinet meeting. He said that while the authorities will do their best in strictly enforcing the law, ordinary citizens should also lend a hand.

“Please take care of foreigners. If anything happens to them, please step in to help,” Surapong said.

He added that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had also instructed all relevant authorities to ensure the safety of tourists especially during the holidays.

“Don’t hurt Thailand’s tourism industry,” he said, adding that criminals targeting foreigners ruin the country’s image.

Tourists can call the 1672, (02) 134 4077 or (02) 356 0650 hotlines for assistance any time of the day or night, he said. (For the Tourist Police in Phuket call: 1155.)

Meanwhile, Surat Thani Governor Chatpong Chatphut promised to introduce measures that would protect tourists from scammers in the jet-ski, car and boat rental services.

He said this after a tourist complained that a jet-ski operator on Chawaeng beach attacked him after he refused to pay the exorbitant fees demanded. Four suspects have been arrested in the case.

“If all operators are required to buy insurance policies, this problem should reduce,” he said.

Single-entry visa for Thailand, Cambodia
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: From today, tourists from 35 countries need only apply for one visa to visit both Thailand and Cambodia. This is part of ACMECS Single Visa – the first step toward an ASEAN version of the European Union’s Schengen Visa scheme.

Visitors who want to visit both countries can apply for a visa at either country’s embassy.

The ACMECS Single Visa should boost tourism in both countries as well as fulfil Thailand’s objective to become a regional hub for tourism, said Foreign Minister Surapong Towichuk-chaikul, who jointly chaired a joint commission on bilateral cooperation with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong yesterday.

ACMECS stands for the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, which groups Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. All ACMECS members are part of ASEAN, and the ACMECS Single Visa is expected to pave the way for an ASEAN Common Visa.

The original idea to have a Schengen-style tourist visa was introduced at a meeting in Bagan, Myanmar in 2003 between leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. At the meeting they launched the “four countries-one destination” scheme, which Vietnam joined later. Foreign ministers of Acmecs then agreed at a 2005 meeting in Siem Reap that Thailand and Cambodia would try to implement the single-visa strategy first. “If the initial project is successful, then the remaining Acmecs members will join the scheme,” Surapong told the press.

Hor Namhong said the two nations would most certainly benefit from the single-visa scheme as it would make travel between the two countries more convenient.

As for concern that traffickers might exploit the scheme, both countries have a “pre-clearance” system.

For instance, if a visitor applies for a visa at a Thai embassy, the documents will be forwarded to its Cambodian counterpart for approval, which will have the authority to reject the application, and vice versa. Also, visa fees for both countries will have to be paid. For instance, the Thai embassy will charge 1,000 baht for entry into Thailand and the tourist will have to pay the Cambodian visa fee upon arrival in that country and vice versa.

As per details provided by the Thai Foreign Ministry, neither country will issue a “multiple-entry” visa.

Up to 21 million people have visited Thailand this year, while Cambodia has had 2.3 million visitors in the first eight months of 2012.

Piyamarn Tejapaiboon, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the scheme will be slightly more beneficial for Cambodia, as tourists visiting Thailand will be able to extend their stay.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, added that the scheme should help boost tourism in Thailand because travel agents will now be able to offer Cambodia as an additional destination.

Apart from the single visa, the two ministers also discussed several cooperation strategies at the meeting yesterday, including joint efforts in the security, economic, social and cultural spheres. They also agreed to set up a permanent border checkpoint between Ban Nong Aian in Sa Kaew province and Stung Bot in Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province, as well as a temporary checkpoint at Sa Kaew’s Ban Non Mak Moon and Banteay Meanchey’s Ban Pray Chan.

Thailand will also do a feasibility study on upgrading a road linking the Stung Bot checkpoint to Cambodia’s Highway No 5 to Phnom Penh. The State Railway of Thailand will also provide assistance in building a railway bridge connecting Sa Kaew’s Kongluek village with Poi Pet in Cambodia to facilitate trade and tourism.

So far, the two countries’ annual bilateral trade is worth about US$2 billion (Bt61 billion), Hor Namhong said. “Both countries have agreed to increase some 30 per cent of trade annually, but I exp

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

Twin TAT campaigns will boost domestic travel

Greeley Pulitzer

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Twin TAT campaigns will boost domestic travel | The Thaiger

In November the Tourism Authority of Thailand plans two campaigns – “Visit Thailand with 100 Baht” and “Shocking Price Weekday Travel”, – aimed to generate 400 million baht in local tourism revenue before the end of the year.

The TAT’s executive director of product promotion said “Shocking Price Weekday Travel” would encourage upper and middle-class Thai tourists to travel more on weekdays, enjoying discounts of up to 80% on high-end tourism products, including five-star hotels, airlines, spas, yachting, Michelin-star restaurants and other privileges from online travel agents. The TAT says at least 4,000 tourism operators and members of tourism associations have registered to take part in the scheme.

A second campaign, “Visit Thailand with 100 Baht”, will feature 40,000 tourism products priced at just 100 baht, offering 10,000 products per day on November 11-12 and December 11-12. You’ll need to be 18 or older and have e-banking and a mobile phone number to join the campaign via the TAT’s website, and can shop for only one tourism product outside their hometown.

Registration will run from 6am until midnight or whenever the 10,000 products for that day run out, the TAT said. The campaign will offer air and bus tickets, hotels, food and drink, tour packages and attractions.

The TAT’s governor said 116 million baht will be used for the two additional programs, above the government’s 1,000 baht cash giveaway Chim-Shop-Chai (Taste-Shop-Spend) scheme, and a 15% cash rebate for spending on tourism products. He expects the new campaigns should add about 400 million baht in tourism revenue and increase the number of Thai tourists travelling domestically by 10-20% .

“The new campaigns, are expected to raise domestic tourism revenue to 1.12 trillion baht this year.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Thailand resume free trade talks with EU, reducing reliance on China

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thailand resume free trade talks with EU, reducing reliance on China | The Thaiger

The European Union has restarted talks with Thailand about a potential free trade agreement. The talks started just days after unfreezing a deadlock put in place by the previous military junta. The resumption of talks comes as Thailand seeks to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on China, which accounted for 14% of the its total foreign direct investment in 2018.

The director-general of the Thai foreign ministry’s department of European affairs held talks in Brussels yesterday with top EU officials in charge of Asia. The talks underlined the EU’s interest in developing closer ties with Southeast Asia, with the ultimate goal of a strategic partnership with ASEAN, which 10 countries in the region.

ASEAN represents the EU’s third-largest trading partner outside Europe, after the US and China, with more than 237.3 billion euros (263.9 billion USD) of trade in goods in 2018. According to latest available statistics bilateral trade in services amounted to 85.5 billion euros in 2017.

Free trade talks between Thailand and the EU also started in 2013 but were put on hold by the EU after the military coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The EU said at the time that “political and civil rights and liberties in Thailand had been severely curtailed” during its years of military rule.

SOURCE: South China Morning Post

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Technology

The dangers of 5G – coming to a mobile phone near you

Tim Newton

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The dangers of 5G – coming to a mobile phone near you | The Thaiger

MONTAGE: The Thaiger

5G, the next generation of mobile phone technology is coming, within months here in Thailand. It will continue to roll out over the next few years, replacing the earlier 4G technology.

Along with any new technology there’s also valid concerns about potential health risk of this new, more powerful network. There’s also been a lot of misinformation and scare-mongering. So is there a looming 5G health apocalypse?

The key concerns, or claims, about 5G is that it’s a dangerous escalation of traditional mobile technology, higher energy radiation that delivers potentially damaging effects on humans. Some 5G decriers contend that the new network generates radiation that can damage DNA, lead to cancer, cause oxidative damage, premature ageing; disrupt cell metabolism and hosts of other diseases. There are articles citing research studies and even opinions by the World Health Organisation.

But first, some science.

5G is the industry standard that will supersede the current widespread 4G LTE standard, just as 4G took over from 3G. 5G just stands for the “fifth generation” in mobile cellular technology.

This standard is designed to be much faster than current 4G and 4GLTE technology. Simply, it will allow faster wireless internet everywhere for everything, as long as you’re in signal range of course.

The speed, and it’s a LOT faster, will allow virtual realtime connection, even faster that human reflexes, to provide more accurate and real experiences. For the new world of auto-drive cars, remote surgery, even gaming and other internet-of-things products and services, 5G will take the online world to the next level. Words like ‘latency’ will vanish as there simply won’y be delays.

5G is poised to deliver peak speeds between 10 and 20 Gbps – that’s 10 – 100 times faster than the current 4G services.

Health concerns

Concerns about 5G are just the latest evolution of decades of headlines about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation. We’ve seen controversies about everything from the health risks of Wi-Fi, smart metres, fluorescent tubes, overhead electric wires, even our mobile phones we use all day. So far there has been no conclusive studies about any of these causing reliable, repeatable, measurable or sustainable health concerns.

But the concerns persist, swirling around the internet and sparking off renewed concerns every few years.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, for example, is a hypothetical disease in which certain people experience debilitating symptoms in the presence of radiation like mobile phones and Wi-Fi.

But despite thousands of people claiming these sorts of sensitivities for at least 30 years, extensive scientific studies have shown that people claiming to be afflicted with this ‘disease’, when blind-folded, are unable to tell or ‘feel’ when they’re in the presence of an electromagnetic field. The World Health Organisation now recommends psychological evaluation for people who continue with these alleged symptoms.

Beyond that, decades of studies have found no link between mobile phones, wi-fi and cancers, including brain tumours from holding your mobile phone to your ears when calling people.

The dangers of 5G - coming to a mobile phone near you | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: echo.net.au

RF or Radiofrequency Radiation?

At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation. RF could be anything from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your screen or light from the sun. Even when you turn on a light at home. It’s all electromagnetic radiation.

We walk through a sea of RF, all day, everyday, it’s impossible to escape – from the sunlight, to the power sources around our house, to the TV screens, to the electric kettles, microwave ovens and electric cookers in the kitchen.

In the RF spectrum there are ionising or non-ionising radiation, only the ionising radiation has the potential to interfere with breaking up chemical bonds.

Ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, and everything with a lower frequency – radio waves, power lines, FM radio, Wi-Fi and our mobile cellular services – these are all considered non-ionising radiation.

Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionising.

The assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, Dr. Steve Novella, says there’s been decades of misunderstanding about the ill-effects of lower frequency radiation.

“Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons – they think of ionising radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.”

“Most concern about mobile phone RF radiation is misplaced. There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionszing radiation to have any biological effect.”

It’s not a tumour!

But researchers continue to conduct studies. A recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program, an agency run by the US Department of Health and Human Services. In this widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, “scientists found that high exposure to 3G RF led to some cases of cancerous heart tumours, brain tumours, and tumours in the adrenal glands of male rats.”

But as RealClearScience points out in their response to the study, “the number of tumours detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects).”

“The level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats.”

“Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.”

The dangers of 5G - coming to a mobile phone near you | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Asiatimes.com

5G risks

A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them around our towns and cities. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighbourhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.”

Despite the estimate being exaggerated, the contention is reasonable.

But skeptics caution you shouldn’t conflate asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. The reality is that the power and frequency of the radiation is still less than light outside or even inside your office or home. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cellular towers and transmitters.

The US FCC, responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use, says that 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.

The FCC defers to the FDA concluding that the weight of scientific evidence has not linked mobile phones with any health problems.

But scientists will continue to test new networks as technology evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. Research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress. But the research will continue as the technology evolves and new claims will continue to be made asserting dangers from 5G.

SOURCES: US FCC | World Health Orginisation | howtogeek.com | Real Clear Science

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