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Thailand News: Park chief seeks transfer over Billy case; Acting PM insists on elections; Dump fire ablaze again

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Thailand News: Park chief seeks transfer over Billy case; Acting PM insists on elections; Dump fire ablaze again | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Park chief seeks transfer over Billy case
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The head of Kaeng Krachan National Park, Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, has reportedly sought a transfer – for at least a month – amid pressure over the disappearance of prominent Karen activist Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen.

Billy went missing on April 17 soon after Chaiwat reportedly questioned him about wild-bee honey he had in his possession.

Chaiwat insisted yesterday that he was not a person who has influence over local authorities investigating the disappearance of Billy. He said he had asked for a one-month transfer to Ratchaburi’s Protected Areas Regional Office 3 (Ban Pong) – to show sincerity and make way for a fair investigation.

About 100 residents from Bang Kloy and Pong Leuk villages in Phetchaburi called on the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation yesterday to transfer the park chief because of his alleged link to Billy’s disappearance.

“The removal of Chaiwat from his position at the national park would help other authorities speed up their investigation of Billy’s case,” said Phreu Odecha, who led a group of Karen at the protest.

The villagers demonstrated at the department’s head office. They had dozens of hand-made banners demanding that agencies, including the department, step up their efforts to resolve the case.

“Those involved in the disappearance of Billy must be punished,” Phreu Odecha said.

Billy’s wife Pinnapa Preuksaphan, 28, joined the rally to beg the people who “abducted” her husband to show mercy. “I am here to ask you to release him,” she said.

With Billy missing for 22 days, her life had completely changed. She said she now faced a lot of trouble, having to manage all things by herself while taking care of five children.

Niphon Chotibal, acting director-general of the department, has said that park chief Chaiwat told him he had met Billy – but only to ask about the wild-bee honey and that Billy was allowed to go home after the questioning. He had university-student trainees as witnesses.

Samak Donnapi, director of the National Parks Bureau, said Chaiwat had expressed his sincerity before a group of senior officials during a visit to Khao Yai National Park last week. He had asked senior officials to remove him temporarily from the park in the name of transparency during the investigation. Chaiwat’s temporary transfer would take effect by Thursday.

Separately, a social media campaign called “#weallbilly” has been launched to highlight the issue of forced disappearances in Thailand.

Under the campaign, people are invited to post pictures, their name and an introduction message saying that they are Billy, who is reportedly the most recent forced disappearance in Thailand.

CAPO will protect red shirts from attacks: Chalerm
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Pro-government red-shirt protesters gathering at Aksa Road west of Bangkok are to be protected until 10pm every night, Centre of Administration for Peace and Order (CAPO) director Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday.

The protection is needed because violence against them is likely, he said. “If they are attacked, a large number will rise up, and confrontation [with government opponents] will follow.”

On the other hand, Chalerm said he believed that M79 grenade attacks on the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which he described as a mob of thugs, would persist.

“The confrontation will not occur if red shirts are not harmed,” he said. “The PDRC will now rely on violence, otherwise it will lose. It will never win.”

Chalerm said he remained the CAPO director despite being ousted through a Constitutional Court ruling as the labour minister.

He repeated CAPO’s plan to arrest all PDRC or other protest leaders using a combined force of police from various special-operations units, if the Criminal Court approved the arrest warrants for them on sedition charges sought yesterday by the Department of Special Investigation.


Grenade fired, monk away

Meanwhile, an M79 grenade last night was launched into a site on Chaeng Wattana Road occupied by anti-government protesters led by monk Phra Buddha Issara. It landed near a shelter he has routinely resided in, but the monk was away on a religious trip. The blast slightly wounded two PDRC guards.

A police Explosives Ordnance Disposal unit was allowed in to inspect the scene yesterday morning and revealed another M79 round had been shot into the protest site. It landed in a military barracks next door.

The monk had gone back to Wat Or Noi in Nakhon Pathom where he is the abbot. He will return today.

An ice deliveryman who was stabbed by PDRC guards on Sunday was unconscious but in a safe condition yesterday, Rajavithi Hospital director Dr Udom Chaovarindr said.

Thanakrit Pinwises, 29, was unable to speak and needed to remain in an intensive-care unit for another four or five days for further treatment for stab wounds to his lung and liver.

At around 11.30pm, Thanakrit drove his ice-delivery pickup past Channel 5, where the PDRC had a rally stage.

He hit a traffic cone left by the guards and got out of his vehicle to apologise.

The guards allegedly attacked and stabbed him. He was helped to the hospital after his pregnant girlfriend called for help.

Former deputy prime minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul called on the police and military to take seriously the matter of PDRC guards attacking people.

There were also reports of the guards forcing foreign tourists heading to Don Mueang International Airport off a bus, forcing them to walk.

‘No road map to end crisis’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Efforts to find a way out of the political stalemate were under way yesterday, with senators convening an informal meeting to discuss possible solutions to the crisis.

The caretaker government is still insisting on its legal mandate and the ruling Pheu Thai Party hit back at their political rivals, and judges who recently issued a ruling against them.

Acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai, who chaired an informal meeting of senators aimed at finding a solution to the crisis, said yesterday the ongoing political conflict was worsening and threatening to become violent and spin out of control. He noted that the Senate was the only legislative body operating, after the House of Representatives’ dissolution last December.

Surachai said he did not think the Senate discussion would reach a conclusion on a possible way out by yesterday, a deadline set by anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who threatened to take the matter into his own hands unless a new prime minister was appointed by then.

“The problem has accumulated for more than 10 years. We won’t be able to solve the problem within a day. We’ll try to do it as quickly as possible in a way that is fairest for the country and for the people,” said Surachai, who was elected on Friday by fellow senators to become the new Senate speaker.

He declined to answ

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Burmese border #&#!!!, Charges for Penguin, 9 dead in floods | Dec 4

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Burmese border #&#!!!, Charges for Penguin, 9 dead in floods | Dec 4 | The Thaiger

Thailand News Today, coming to you from the relatively dry Phuket, compared to the horrible flooding in parts of southern Thailand.

5 shot and in critical condition after gang clash in Phitsanulok

5 people have been shot and critically wounded in what police believe to be a turf war between 2 rival gangs in Phitsanulok, Central Thailand.

Police say gang members attacked another gang in the Wang Thong district because they were on “their territory.” Police say the alleged attackers threw ping pong bombs and fired shots at the rival gang members. The victims were reportedly found with several bullet wounds and are now in critical condition. Police are continuing their investigations into the attacks and shootings.

Covid-19 spread through commercial sex at Myanmar hotel, border resident claims

A resident of Myanmar’s border town Tachileik claims the recent Covid-19 outbreak has spread at a commercial sex venue parading as a hotel. 10 Thai women have so far tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from the location they had worked at. Some confirmed they worked at the 1G1 Hotel.

A local resident has told local media that a group of “fat military generals” from Yangon, where infections continue to rise, had sex with Thai women working at the venue.

The payment for services was up to 10,000 baht for the Thai girls working there.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page that appears to be linked to the hotel advertises jobs for “beautiful women.” One post offers a 3 day position to earn 30,000 baht, saying the “entertainment” job has “high class business customers.”

150 Thai workers ask to be allowed home from Myanmar’s virus-hit Tachilek

The Department of Disease Control says up to 150 Thai nationals have now applied to return from Myanmar, as Covid-19 cases rise in the Burmese border town.

The requests come as health officials attempt to trace hundreds who came into contact with a number of Covid-infected Thai women who crossed back into the Kingdom illegally, bypassing health checks and quarantine.A man in Chiang Rai who had contact with the women has since tested positive for the virus and we’re awaiting the results of many more tests as of today.

A total of 10 women, all of whom were carrying the virus, are believed to have made the illegal crossing. 2 of them subsequently boarded flights to Bangkok and Phitsanulok.

The Thai military is working with other relevant agencies to block the border crossing at the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai. At least 80 officials, accompanied by additional troops, are being deployed to check illegal border crossings. #gateshutafterhorsebolted

Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader

A student protest leader is facing charges of contempt after he made statements on Facebook critical of the Constitutional Court ruling to acquit PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Tuesday’s ruling allows the Thai prime minister and former Army General to continue occupying a military-owned residence. Critics have argued that allowing Prayut, a retired general, to say at the Army residence is a conflict of interest.

Now the director of the Constitutional Court’s litigation office has filed the charge against pro-democracy protest leader known as Penguin. The director says the Facebook posts were defamatory to the court and had tarnished its reputation.

In addition to the Facebook posts, Montri says the protest leader made an offensive speech following the court ruling at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. Police are now investigating the claims to determine if charges should be pressed.

Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive

Without foreign tourists at Bangkok’s famous backpacker mecca, Khao San Road has gone quiet.

While the nights draw local crowds, it’s definitely not what it used to be and the once bustling street remains largely empty during the day time.

The deserted street during the daytime remains an ongoing problem for traders who have long term rents with big price tags attached… reflecting the busy international traffic that used to mingle there.

The area has had a reputation for being an eclectic party street with noisy hostels, cheap alcohol and balloons filled with laughing gas but without the foreign tourists, many of the hotels on the street are now closed with most of the traders unable to quickly adapt to the new market conditions.

Severe flooding in southern Thailand kills 7

Heavy flooding in the south of the country has already killed 7 people, while many others have been injured.

The worst of the flooding, which has affected 9 provinces, is in Nakhon Si Thammarat, which has had over 6 days of persistent rain. In total, the floods have affected over 261,000 households and tens of thousands of people. Vast areas of land are submerged, with road and rail travel severely affected in places.

Other southern provinces hit by the heavy rain and flooding are Surat Thani, Phatthalung, Trang, Satun, Songkhla, and Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat down along the Malaysian border.

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Thailand

Ceremony marks 6 months since Thai activist’s disappearance in Cambodia

Caitlin Ashworth

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Ceremony marks 6 months since Thai activist’s disappearance in Cambodia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Reuters

It’s been 6 months since Thai pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit disappeared in Cambodia. Many, including his family, claim the activist was abducted. The Human Rights Watch says the 37 year old was seen being forced into a vehicle in front of his Phnom Penh apartment in June.

A Buddhist ceremony was held today outside the activist’s apartment, marking 6 months since the disappearance. Monks chanted and scattered sacred water. The activist’s sister, Sitanun, attended the ceremony and called on authorities to solve the case.

“We do not know the perpetrator; however it is the duty and responsibility of authorities both in Cambodia and Thailand to find the truth.”

Wanchalearm fled Thailand after the 2014 military coup. He was accused of violating Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law. Since the coup, at least 8 other self-exiled Thai activists have disappeared from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Some were found dead. Thai authorities deny any involvement with the disappearances.

Not much has been said by authorities regarding the activist’s disappearance. In past interviews, Cambodian police have said that they are unaware about a kidnapping. Cambodian police declined to comment when reached by Reuters reporters. Thailand’s embassy in Phnom Penh says they’re following the case, but couldn’t comment on details because it is “under legal process.”

Sitanun says she will appear in Phnom Penh court on December 8. She says she has photos and videos that show her brother was in the city when he disappeared.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Environment

Greenpeace Thailand names 5 local companies “top plastic polluters”

Caitlin Ashworth

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Greenpeace Thailand names 5 local companies “top plastic polluters” | The Thaiger

After collecting thousands of pieces of plastic waste, Greenpeace Thailand found that the majority of the trash comes from 5 Thai Companies, naming them the “top plastic polluters.”

Volunteers from Greenpeace collected plastic waste from Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and Wonnapa beach in Chon Buri. Out of the 13,001 pieces of plastic was collected, they say most of the waste traced back to 5 Thai companies: CP Group (which operates Thailand’s 7-Eleven convenience stores), Dutch Mill Company, Osotspa (which produces M-150 drinks), TCP Group and Lactasoy.

This is the third year that Greenpeace Thailand and each year they find the same types of plastic from the same companies, according to leader of the organisation’s “Plastic Project” Pichmol Rugrod. The CP Group was named the top polluter for the second year in a row.

“Single-use plastic has devastating effects not only to nature but to frontline communities as well. There will be no solutions to the plastic crisis unless there is a plan to urgently reduce plastic production and consumption.”

“In addition, corporations must take full responsibility for the pollution they have caused, taking into account the externalised cost of their single-use plastic products- such as the cost of waste collection treatment, their continued contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the irreparable environmental damage that will continue to harm people and biodiversity for years to come.”

Director of Thailand’s Ecological Alert and Recovery, Penchom Saetang, says the Thai government needs to step up plastic waste management and motivate companies to reduce single-use plastic products.

SOURCE: Greenpeace Thailand

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