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Thailand News: Songkhla ranked fourth for human trafficking; Car tax scam; Jet-setting monks

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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

Songkhla ranked fourth highest in human trafficking
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Royal Thai Police revealed that Songkhla ranked fourth in terms of areas most at risk for human trafficking crimes at 642, after Bangkok’s 1,108, Chumphon’s 997 and Prachuap Khiri Khan’s 848 locations.

This report prompted Social Development and Human Security Minister’s secretary Anusorn Eiamsa-Ard to visit the province for inspection yesterday, where he was told by Songkhla deputy governor Surapong Panut-ampon that there were many human trafficking cases in terms of prostitution in the city.

Surapong explained that Songkhla, a tourism and trade hub, served as a core supplier of women and children to prostitution rings in Malaysia and Singapore. He said authorities had rescued 73 prostitution victims in 2011; 17 in 2012 and eight in 2013. There was also a high number of people being forced into labour in the fishery business, he said, adding that authorities had rescued 15 persons in 2011; 17 in 2012; and seven in 2013.

Provincial Police Region 9 investigator Pol Maj-General Jeerawat Udomsuk said he covered human trafficking crimes in Songkhla, Satun, Trang and Phang Nga provinces and the toughest issue was the Rohingya people who fled turmoil in Myanmar and wished to live here permanently. He said the refugees were a financial burden on the Thai government, but nothing could be done other than force them back into their country.

Even then, they tend to sneak back in, he added.

Jeerawat cited Sadao district, where thousands of migrant children had no access to education and would possibly grow up to cause social problems in the future. He called on the foreign minister and other people in power to speak to Malaysia about pushing Rohingya refugees into Thailand as well as punish the state officials who help with the transfer.

Royal Thai Police representative Pol Colonel Surapong Muenpaopun said there were 2,000 registered Rohinya people in Thailand, but the actual figure could be larger and grow further if nothing is done to send them back to Myanmar. These people also faced the risk of becoming human trafficking victims. Anusorn’s visit was to prepare for the ministry’s strategy to tackle human trafficking in seven pilot provinces such as Songkhla, which will be used as a model for the suppression of human-trafficking cases.

Papers for 301 cars ‘tied to tax scam’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: More than two-thirds of Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs under investigation for tax evasion have failed to pass document tests.

“But we will have to conduct physical inspections before coming to a conclusion,” Tarit Pengdith, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), said yesterday.




The papers for 264 out of 338 Mercedes-Benzes and 37 out of 46 BMWs in the probe showed signs of tax dodging, he said. The DSI has called on the owners of 558 “imported” luxury vehicles to submit their automobiles for inspection to see if the proper taxes had been collected from them. All of them are registered as “reassembled” in Thailand – a classification that will soon be completely banned as some car importers and buyers have reportedly claimed the vehicles are reassembled in country to avoid a higher tax rate.

“The owners should voluntarily come forward this week,” Tarit said. “After this, we will issue summons.”

The DSI estimates that more than 20 billion baht has been lost in tax-evasion schemes for cars. The authorities started to look into the situation more seriously after doubts arose early this month as to why no one came forward to claim six luxury cars damaged in a fire while being transported through Nakhon Ratchasima last month. A closer look revealed at least one was linked to tax-evasion.

The DSI was now going after a prime suspect, Natee Riewthong, in the Nakhon Ratchasima case. “We are also gathering evidence to seek arrest warrants for two luxury-car importers. Both men are well-known entrepreneurs in their field,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung has lodged a police complaint against former senator Ruangkrai Leekitwattana and several newspapers for claiming he possessed a Rolls-Royce, for which proper tax may not have been paid.

“I will also sue Ruangkrai for Bt50 million. The allegation against me is completely groundless,” he said.

Jet-setting monk ‘to return next week’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Disciples of Luangpu Nen Kham Chattiko – who was identified as one of three monks seen aboard a private jet in a video clip that has drawn widespread criticism – said yesterday he would return next week from his trip abroad to resume his duties as abbot of Wat Pa Khantitham in Si Sa Ket’s Kanthararom district.

The 34-year-old was one of a trio of monks wearing earphones and sunglasses and using a Louis Vuitton bag, in a clip that has been circulating on the Internet since last week, sparking public criticism at the “ostentatious display”.

Si Sa Ket’s Office of Buddhism director Virod Chaipanna made inquiries at the monastery on Monday and was told the monk had gone on pilgrimage abroad.

The Nation visited the monastery yesterday and was told by a male disciple, who gave his name as Kung, that the abbot often travelled by helicopter or jet provided by devoted disciples in response to urgent invitations to preach in other provinces. The disciple said that the critics of the video clip were motivated by envy.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

1,630 new Covid-19 cases and 22 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,376 active Covid-19 cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported 85,005 Covid-19 cases and 421 Covid-related deaths.

Out of the 22 deaths, most of the patients had chronic illnesses. Many contracted the virus from family members or close friends.

Most of the new cases were detected in Bangkok, particularly in districts with crowded communities and markets. While cases in Bangkok continue to be high, CCSA spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun says the number of new cases in most other provinces in Thailand is decreasing.

Health officials are rolling out proactive case finding campaigns in several high-risk communities, testing 9,000 to 10,000 per day, Nopakun says, adding that officials are working to provide the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Those who test positive for Covid-19 and are asymptomatic must stay at an official field hospital for 14 days and then self-isolate at home for another 14 days.

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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Thailand

Thailand donates cash, equipment to Laos to help combat Covid-19 outbreak

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Royal Thai Embassy Vientiane

With Laos, just north of Thailand, under lockdown measures to control a spike of Covid-19 infections, the Royal Thai Embassy to Laos helping the country combat the outbreak and has donated cash and materials valued altogether at more than 16 million baht.

While cases have remained low in Laos since the start of the pandemic last year with active cases typically under 10, there was a spike in cases in mid-April and active cases are now at 1,302. The country reported its first coronavirus-related death yesterday.

Thailand donates cash, equipment to Laos to help combat Covid-19 outbreak | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Laos as of 9 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

Donations from Thailand help supply mobile biosafety labs to conduct swab Covid-19 testing and beds for Covid-19 patients as well as protective equipment such including 50,000 medical masks and more than 2,000 Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, outfits.

An order of supplies valued at 8.5 million baht is set to be delivered by the end of the month. That order will have 2,000 more PPE outfits, Covid-19 test equipment, DNA/RNA extraction kits, and 2,500 test kits. Other equipment provided by Thailand include a defibrillator, patient monitoring machine, infrared thermometers, oxygen regulators, and pulse oximeters.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Politics

Royal Thai police say new uniforms will help in pursuit of criminals

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Stock photo via US National Archives

The Royal Thai Police say new uniforms will help them be more “agile” in their pursuits of criminals. The uniform’s prototype is still under trials and has yet to be launched. The move to change uniforms has been attempted in the past, with tourist police once seeing their usual long-sleeved khaki shirt with shoulder pads and metal badges morph to short-sleeved shirts and blue shorts. But previous modifications to their attires was short-lived.

Somprasong Yenthuam, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau has been assigned by the police chief to oversee the uniform change this time around. A committee has been formed to study the input gathered from officers across the country, as well as the public. But the police chief wants the new uniforms to be suited to patrol operations with a final decision being made after a 10-day trial period of the uniforms.

The new style of uniform is currently being tested at the 3 police stations of Chakkrawat, Bang Yi Khan and Bukhalo in Bangkok. The trial started on May 3 and will run until this Thursday, with 10 active-duty officers, at the operational level, trying out the new uniforms.

“The three police stations were chosen because they are ready for the trial as the areas under their jurisdiction are fairly large with many residents.”

The uniforms feature a baseball-style cap, which is much lighter than the traditional police helmets, and a shirt with 2 panels. The upper panel is made of khaki while the lower is made from a more breathable fabric which is easy to launder. The new badges are made of cloth, taking into account previous complaints by officers of the badges’ jagged edges injuring them while working. The new pants feature an elastic waistband and multiple pockets. The new shoes are designed for running without causing foot pain.

“The committee has studied police uniforms from around the world before deciding on the prototype. But what is most important is the opinion of police officers who use it, and the public. Whether the proposed new police uniform will convey less power or authority remains to be seen. It is not finalised yet and can still be changed.”

The new uniforms cost around 2,000 baht but Somprasong says the department will use its annual provision to pay for the uniforms without needing to add more money. Krisanaphong Poothakool, an associate professor of criminology and assistant president at Rangsit University, says the new uniform must help officers be more agile.

“However, how the officers perform their duties and behave themselves in public is more important than their uniforms. Changing the uniform will be useless if the officers fail to improve their behaviour.”

Royal Thai police say new uniforms will help in pursuit of criminals | News by ThaigerSOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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