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Thailand News: 3 monks killed in UK; Warning towers

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand News: 3 monks killed in UK; Warning towers | The Thaiger

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

Three monks killed in tragic UK car crash
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Thai consul in London is visiting two Thais who survived a head-on car crash yesterday in Scotland in which three Thai monks were killed, the Foreign Ministry says.

One of the victims was from Wat Mahathat in Bangkok and residing in a temple in Wales. The second was from a temple in Scotland and the third from a temple in London.

Police in Scotland are investigating the incident and the bodies will be sent to the temples when the investigation is completed.

The three monks were killed yesterday in the east of Scotland when their car crashed head-on with a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, the BBC reported.

The monks were passengers in the back seat of the Nissan Note, when it crashed with a Skoda Octavia driven in the opposite direction about 2km south of Pathhead in Midlothian, just after 7.30am local time. The Nissan driver managed to pull herself free, but the front-seat passenger had to be cut out of the wreckage.

The Skoda’s driver was also taken to hospital, but did not suffer serious injury. The road was closed near the scene of the crash to allow police to carry out an investigation.

The BBC quoted Inspector Simon Bradshaw of Lothian and Borders Police as saying: “This is a tragic incident, and we are currently in the process of carrying out inquiries in order to establish the full circumstances of the collision.

“At this time, I am appealing to anyone who noticed the gold coloured Nissan Note or the silver Skoda Octavia on the A68 this morning, to get in touch.”

Warning towers “useless”
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Crippled by robberies and inadequate maintenance, tsunami warning towers in some provinces in the South may not be able to send out an alarm when needed.

“I found that several towers were in poor condition, with thieves having stolen loudspeakers and other equipment. The early-warning system in Ranong may not work properly,” Watchara Thirarattanangkoon said yesterday in his capacity as chairman of the Foundation of National Disaster Warning Council’s Ranong branch.

There are 13 warning towers in Ranong, one of the six southern provinces hit by the 2004 tsunami.

“Locals are now worried,” said Wichai Sricharoen, chairman of the Bang Hin Tambon Administrative Organisation. Bang Hin is in Ranong’s Kapoe district.

Wichai said the locals wanted relevant authorities to repair the towers and ensure they are in working condition.

“Local administrative bodies cannot do much because the signal is linked to the central system,” he said.

He also complained that the signboards were quite confusing and people might not be able to find safe evacuation routes in times of emergencies.

Samniang Maneerat, acting chief of Ranong’s disaster prevention and imitigation office, said a meeting would be held to identify clearly evacuation spots in the province.

Similar problems exist in Trang as well.

“I think the country is just 50 per cent ready to deal with tsunami risks,” Parkpoom Wimantirawat said yesterday on behalf of the Andaman Foundation’s Trang branch.

Living in the shadow of fear
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: In the wake of repeated attacks on their peers, teachers and education officials in the deep South are getting badly demoralised.

“We are in a crisis,” one teacher said on condition of anonymity.

He now relies on amulets to give him the courage to go to work while waiting for his transfer request to be approved.

“My school is in the red zone,” he said. “Just on December 11, insurgents opened fire on a tea shop located along the route that teachers use every day.”

This shooting in Narathiwat’s Rangae district killed four people and injured many others.

Since January 4, 2004, when the ongoing wave of unrest erupted in the deep South, people have been living in fear, and security concerns are growing in other parts of the country. The violence has caused huge casualties as well as massive economic damage.

Among the prime targets are teachers and education officials. So far, the country’s education sector has lost 124 teachers and 34 officials to the unrest.

As many as 2,444 teachers in four districts of Yala applied to be transferred between 2003 and 2009. This is in addition to the requests submitted by teachers in other parts of the South.

“I am worried and shaken,” admitted Thanaporn Maneeprawat.

The 33-year-old teaches at Ban Ta Kam Cham School in Pattani’s Nong Chik district. On November 22, her school’s director Nantana Kaewchan was shot dead just a few hundred metres away from the compound.

“Buddhist teachers feel they are more at risk,” she said.

As a native of Pattani, she has been teaching in the South for years, but says she will never get used to the attacks taking place on an almost daily basis.

She put in for a transfer and it was approved. However, she will still be working in Pattani, though at a different school.

“I’ve been given the permission to work at a school close to home. That gives me some sort of comfort,” she said. “I feel the shorter distance I have to travel, the lower the risk.”

According to Thanaporn, fear about their safety has affected teachers’ ability to teach and their contribution to extra-curricular activities.

“Two people close to me at work have been attacked fatally, and both times I felt compelled to seek a transfer,” she added.

Ban Ta Kam Cham School’s acting director Malasen Asan said he too wished to move out of the area, but had to stay put now that the school’s director has been killed.

“If I leave, there will be nobody around to run the school. Now there are only three teachers hired on a temporary contract and myself at the school,” he said.

Malasen’s transfer request has already been approved. “But I can’t go. I can’t leave the students here without knowing that there is a new school director to take care of them,” he said.

Though fear has gripped his heart, his love for children and sense of duty prevails.

Police seize drug lord’s assets
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: National police chief General Adul Saengsing-kaew said police in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai had seized 250 million baht in assets that reportedly belonged to alleged Golden Triangle drug lord Nor Kham.

Nor was sentenced to death by a Chinese court in November for murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River.

Adul said two houses in Chiang Mai’s Nong Chom area and one house in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Chai district were seized, as well as 7 million baht in cash, gold bars and ornaments, furniture and other valuables.

Police said the assets were kept under the names of Nor’s right-hand man, Sangkham Jamsa, and Nor Kham’s son.
Earlier Adul, in Chiang Mai’s Fang district, ordered 1,600 police and state officials in 63 teams to search target locations to crack down on drug gangs ahead of the New Year holidays.

Among 177 criminals detained, police arrested two men, a Loatian and a Hmong, allegedly transport

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Convicted human traffickers ignore 99% of court orders in Thailand

Greeley Pulitzer

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Convicted human traffickers ignore 99% of court orders in Thailand | The Thaiger

Human traffickers in Thailand have ignored court orders to pay compensation to victims in more than the 99% of convicted cases in recent years. The flouting of the court orders is fuelling fears that many survivors could be victimised again.

Thai courts have ordered traffickers to pay their victims more than $4.3 million for damages caused in about 1,335 cases since 2014, but the compensation was paid in only five cases, excluding cases settled out of court, according to Reuters.

While Thailand has rescued a record-breaking 1,000+ trafficking victims this year along, activists are concerned that the failure to pay compensation leaves them in fresh danger. A spokesman for the Human Rights and Development Foundation says… “It’s an important issue that is unfortunately being neglected.”

The Human Rights and Development Foundation provides free legal aid to migrant workers and trafficking victims.

The Thai government is considering amending its 1999 anti-money laundering laws to allow offenders’ assets to be seized to compensate victims. Seized assets are currently state property but it’s unclear when this will be reviewed by the cabinet.

“This money will enable victims to start a new life and prevent them from being re-trafficked. However the government’s role in assisting victims in pursuing the claims is still not clear.”

Thailand is home to about 610,000 modern ‘slaves’, according to the Global Slavery Index published by the rights group Walk Free Foundation. This means that about one in 113 of its 69 million people is enslaved – forced or blackmailed into working against their will, often with little or no pay.

Trafficking victims are automatically compensated through a government fund which provides living and rehabilitation expenses and lost wages. But the Human Rights and Development Foundation says these sums are insufficient for victims to rebuild their lives.

While Thai law allows victims to claim compensation from convicted traffickers, offenders have refused to pay in more than 1,000 cases.

The US called on Thailand in June to increase compensation to victims in its annual Trafficking in Persons report. They ranked Thailand as a Tier 2 country, meaning it is making significant efforts to combat the crime.

SOURCE: Reuters

Convicted human traffickers ignore 99% of court orders in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

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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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