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Thailand News Today | Army v Twitter, Tourism interrupted, Thailand World’s #6 | October 9

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Clerk calls out Thai Army for alleged corruption

An army clerk is calling out the Thai Army for alleged corruption, saying he was forced to withdraw money under his name which was then falsely documented as a travel expense.

The clerk at the army’s Ordnance Material Rebuild Centre posted photos of documents on Facebook, showing the withdrawal listed as a work-related travel expense. He said the documents are “evidence of corrupt practices” and he used the hashtags #ReformtheArmy and #Thatsnotourtax. All power to the young man.

Meanwhile it hasn’t been a good day for the Thai Army with Twitter suspending 926 accounts that are linked to the Royal Thai Army for violating the social media company’s “platform manipulation” policies. They say the accounts were “amplifying pro-government propaganda” and engaging in behaviour that targeted political opposition figures.

Altogether, Twitter permanently suspended 1,594 accounts from state-linked operations in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Thailand and Russia, the company announced yesterday. Thailand accounts made up the majority.

Economic think tank says shopping stimulus will only help in the short-term

The research division of Kasikorn Bank says while the government’s latest shopping stimulus package has its advantages, the benefits will only be short-term. The Kasikorn Research Centre points out that the scheme, which will run from October 23 to December 31, will only provide a temporary boost to the economy.

If the stimulus goes ahead, shoppers will be given 3,000 baht cash each, with a maximum daily spend of 150 baht. The payment is intended to subsidise consumer purchases, with the exception of lottery tickets, flight and accommodation bookings, alcohol and tobacco.

Administrative issues” delayed Special Tourist Visa flight

A senior tourism official has told Reuters reporters that “administrative issues” are the reason for the delayed trip of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa. But other officials claimed the postponement was done to help ease Covid-19 fears for Thai tourists planning on travelling to Phuket for the annual Vegetarian Festival later this month.

A group of 120 to 150 foreigners on the new long stay visa were supposed to fly from Guangzhou, China to Phuket yesterday after a 6 month ban on international tourists. Covid-19 mobile testing units were even sent to the Phuket International airport this week and are there to test foreign tourists when they enter the country.

But the Tourism Authority of Thailand governor says that the delay is due to issues in the process for applying and issuing the Special Tourist Visas.

There has been confusion with a number of reports over the past week about when the flight will arrive, some saying the flight would arrive on October 8 and others saying it has been postponed.

Both the Phuket governor and the National Security Council secretary general say the flight has been rescheduled and will arrive after the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. They claim that many domestic tourists who plan on attending the festival, fear the foreign tourists could spread the virus. None of this bodes well for the country trying to reboot its battered tourism industry.

Anti-government activists confirm details of October 14 protest

Members of the Free People pro-democracy group announced the details of their next major protest planned for next Wednesday, October 14. Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, one of the key leaders in the current anti-government protest movement, has confirmed that the rally will kick off at 2pm next Wednesday.

Activists will assemble at the Democracy Monument in the capital after camping out overnight as a way to force the government into responding to their demands. Turnout should exceed that of the September 19 protest in the capital, according to organisers. The last rally at the Democracy Monument attracted 10,000+.

Phuket Airport to see surge in domestic passengers during Vegetarian Festival

The director of Phuket Airport says at least 15,000 domestic passengers are expected to pass through the airport each day during the upcoming Vegetarian Festival. The annual, and quite bizarre event, which runs from October 16 to 25, is expected to add another 20% to the airport’s traffic each day during the festival.

The event, an exotic mixture of Chinese mythology, not very good vegetarian food and plenty of fireworks, runs for 10 days each October and requires adherents to stop eating meat, drinking alcohol or having sex for 10 days. The Thaiger will be there to cover this year’s events so expect the unexpected.

Condé Nast Traveller ranks Thailand in Top 20 Best Countries in the World

And Thailand has ranked #7 in a ranking of the Top 20 Countries in the World, by readers of Condé Nast Traveller in the 33rd Readers’ Choice Awards 2020. Italy, Sri Lanka and Portugal scored the top 3 positions in the prestigious listing.

Chiang Mai was placed 2nd on the Top 10 Best Small Cities, and Ko Phangan was rated 3rd on the Top 5 Best Islands in Asia.

For Thailand, the confidence of Condé Nast readers can do little to help its tourism industry with the borders all but closed except for a handful of high-spend travellers.

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Road deaths

1st day of Songkran road safety campaign – 356 injuries, 25 deaths

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1st day of Songkran road safety campaign – 356 injuries, 25 deaths | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's notorious traffic and hazardous road conditions

The Songkran road safety campaign is off to a moderate start with a reported 25 deaths and 356 injuries across Thailand on Saturday. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department director-general reports that there were 348 road accidents in the country on the first day of the campaign.

Though the figures don’t sound like an achievement, they are actually a fair bit lower than the average road death toll each day in Thailand throughout the year. Officials say that the real rush back home for the annual holiday will probably be tomorrow.

About 83% of the accidents involved motorbikes, 7.5% involved pick-up trucks and 4% were with cars. The biggest percentage of incidents happened between 4 and 8 pm, with 28% of accidents occurring in the late afternoon and early evening. Around 20% of crashes were between 8 am and noon, and 17% between noon and 4 pm.

Speeding is the number one cause of traffic accidents, with 32% of incidents a result of people driving too fast. Sudden lane switches, regardless of speed, contributed to about 20% of crashes. Alcohol was another major contributing factor, with intoxicated drivers involved in 23% of accidents that were attributed to drink-driving.

Bangkok, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai saw 2 fatalities on the roads of each province, while Phatthalung province in Southern Thailand had 22 injuries from 20 traffic accidents, the most in any province in Thailand.

As part of the Songkran road safety campaign, 342,000 cars, trucks and motorbikes were stopped and inspected by over 60,000 officials across Thailand yesterday. There are 1.913 main road checkpoints set up throughout the entire country. More than 58,000 citations were handed out to drivers for many different infractions, notably over 16,000 drivers were caught without a license and nearly 15,000 people were violating Thailand’s helmet laws by riding without one.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Road deaths

Thailand road accidents cost 500 billion baht per year

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Thailand road accidents cost 500 billion baht per year | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand - the most dangerous roads in Asia?

Thailand is notorious for its road and driving conditions, and a disproportionate number of driving accidents. The World Health Organisation now reports that road accidents cost an estimated 500 billion baht in 2019 alone. The WHO report placed Thailand as the number one country in ASEAN with a 32.7 per cent death rate, the highest in Southeast Asia. The Road Accident Victims Protection Co explains that the WHO calculates the financial damages of driving deaths in different countries around the world. Thailand’s 500 billion baht loss amounts to about 3 per cent of the country’s entire 2019 gross domestic product of 16.87 trillion baht.

By analyzing statistics and making projections about road deaths from 2021 to 2027, the estimates during the next 6 years that Thailand is facing an average of about 15,400 deaths per year in the best case, and looking a worst case scenario of over 18,600 deaths per year in traffic accidents. Adding an extra depressing edge to this gruesome statistic, the report shows that nearly 40% of those killed in traffic accidents are the heads of households. With the loss of the family head, an average of 2.43 people per death lose the support of their primary family earner, putting them in peril. The death of younger household leaders, and other untimely and unnatural deaths also may contribute in the longterm to a disparity in an aging population.

2020 saw a strong drop in road accidents and deaths, from 22,000 in 2019 to just under 18,000 fatalities, though this drop is mainly due to the national lockdown in April and general decrease in travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If Covid-19 improves in the coming month and the country springs back to life, the number of deaths are likely to spring back as well. Estimates show that road fatalities could return to 19,000-20,000 in all of 2021, which is about 1 death every 26 minutes. Worldwide about 317,000 people die in driving accidents every year, or about 1 every 23 seconds.

SOURCE: The Nation Thailand

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Songkran

Songkran activities cancelled in Ayutthaya due to Covid-19

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Songkran activities cancelled in Ayutthaya due to Covid-19 | Thaiger
PHOTO: Ayutthaya traditionally has elaborate Songkran celebrations

After the recent outbreak of Covid-19 across Thailand, in a large part due to entertainment activities, Thailand’s former capital city of Ayutthaya has now officially cancelled all Songkran festival activities for the upcoming holiday. All events previously planned to mark the Thai New Year’s holiday between April 13 and 15 have now been called off. An urgent declaration by the provincial governor today informed the public of the decision. Many people across the country are cancelling Songkran events or any observance of the holiday at all.

The decision by the province’s Songkran committee and the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Ayutthaya office was directed especially at tourists who may be planning to travel to the area for traditional festivities. Complex and ornate events had been planned, scheduled to be held on Si Sanphet road, with the sudden cancellation announcement abruptly ending the preparations for holiday merriment.

TAT and the local government agreed that the cancellation was necessary to prevent the possible spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in light of the current outbreak across Thailand. In Ayutthaya, 86 people have been infected with 21 new cases diagnosed yesterday. In an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, the Ayutthaya Hospital issued a statement limiting visits for hospital patients. The hospital encourages people to do video calls with their relatives as the hospital will only allow one relative to spend time with each patient. This overall situation led to the official decision to call off all Songkran festivities.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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