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Thailand News Today | Holiday road toll, protests tomorrow, GDP recovery | November 24

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There’s been some heavy downpours around sections of Bangkok over the past few days. We start with some video of the flooded streets. Then, into the news…

139 killed, 653 injured, as Thailand’s holiday weekend sees surge in road accidents

The Ministry of Transport has confirmed that hundreds of road traffic accidents have taken place over Thailand’s 4 day holiday weekend.

139 people have died and 653 have been injured in the course of the 4 day break, which was introduced to boost domestic tourism.

455 car accidents were recorded, with nearly 79% of them being caused by excessive speed. 82 people died in car accidents, with another 466 injured.Another 153 accidents involved motorbikes, with 47 bike riders killed and 165 injured.

Public transport vehicles and trucks accounted for 21 accidents, with 13 caused by trucks, 5 by buses, and 3 by trains. Over 10.7 million people took to public transport between last Wednesday night and Sunday night.

Protesters target the Crown Property Bureau tomorrow, taking direct aim at the country’s Monarchy

Tomorrow the protest road show moves to the Crown Property Bureau in Phitsanulok Road, taking aim directly at the the management of the Thai monarch’s affairs.

Protesters, who first brought up the issue of the role of the Thai Monarchy in July this year, say they have “a big surprise” in store. This will be the first time when the entire focus of the protest will be Thailand’s Head of State, previously considered a taboo topic in Thai society and the media.

The Crown Property Bureau is the quasi-government agency responsible for managing the property of the Thai Monarch. The bureau is legally defined as a juristic entity and is not a government agency. It also has no tax obligations.

In speeches during last week’s protests, speakers at the rally said… “we demand the return of taxpayers’ money”.

But Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha questioned the protester’s plans…

“Why they want to get close to the Crown Property Bureau? I think you know their purpose.”

There’s a longer article with some history about the Crown Property Bureau at TheThaiger.com

Protester slammed for dressing as schoolgirl to highlight sexual harassment in Thai schools

2 government MPs have criticised a member of the “Bad Students” protest movement after she dressed as a schoolgirl to highlight sexual harassment in Thai schools.

In an online protest, the activist put on a school uniform and held up a sign condemning sexual harassment in the Thai education system.

Whilst her actions have generally been supported by netizens, some pro-establishment figures have hit out at the protester including 2 Palang Pracharat MPs, who says the protester’s decision to wear a school uniform will bring Thai schools into disrepute.

His accusation comes as sexual harassment figures from the Office of Basic Education Commission have been released, showing hundreds of sexual harassment incidents recorded between 2013 – 2017. In January this year alone, there were over 700 cases reported of sexual harassment. The report says that many other victims remain too scared to come forward.

Finance Minister says Thailand’s GDP will take 2 years to recover

Thailand’s finance minister says the country’s GDP will take 2 years to recover the 9% it has lost since the Covid pandemic ravaged the economy.

The Finance Minister says the economy would have expanded by 3% this year if it weren’t for the pandemic.

“The pandemic crisis will make the economy contract by around 6% in 2020, therefore there is a 9% gap that needs to be recuperated. If Thailand’s GDP growth could arrive at 4% in 2021 and 2022, this would propel the country’s economic growth momentum to return to a normal ratio.”

As for the 2022 budget, he says it is still being designed to support economic growth through public investments in infrastructure and energy, with some projects relying more heavily on help from the private sector.

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai.

Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally where 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

The Chalong police leading investigations into the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, where both denied the charges. The 2 men have been released on bail.

But he says the investigation is yet to begin with police saying they haven’t even questioned the owner of the school.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    RORY N KEELAN

    Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Ref Chalong school item. Go after the (irregular) employees while ignoring (for now at least) the employer who willfully employed them – and it is the responsibility of the employer to obtain work permits for foreigners.

    “The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.” So that they can be found guilty and quickly deported. Then they investigate the school but . . . the two principal witnesses are no longer around. Case dismissed!

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Environment Justice Atlas

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee has announced the cancellation on the deep seaport project contract with Italian-Thai Development (ITD), one of Thailand’s leading industrial firms, by saying that they “lost confidence” in the company after long, controversial issues.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee said that the Thai company has caused them “repeated delays, continuing breaches of financial obligations under the contracts and the concessionaires’ failure to confirm their financial capacity to proceed with development”.

They say they will look for new development partners to continue the projects. Currently, there are still no comments from ITD.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone is Myanmar’s initiative to encourage international investments into the country, but the project has been delayed because of funding problems and local opposition.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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SRT studies alternative plans for Bang Sue Grand Station after no show of interested bidders

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SRT studies alternative plans for Bang Sue Grand Station after no show of interested bidders | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bang Sue Grand Station

There seems to be little interest in the new Bang Sue Grand Station project, which is planned to be Thailand’s new railway hub in place of Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station and the largest railway station is Southeast Asia. Bidding for the station’s Plot A opened 3 weeks ago, with envelopes each costing 500,000 baht, but not one was sold.

With the bidding closing in January and no interest so far, the State Railway of Thailand is finding alternative plans for the Bang Sue Grand Station’s Plot A, a source told Nation Thailand.

“It is believed that nobody has shown interest in the project because of the new wave of Covid-19 infections. Also the Plot A project has low potential for commercial profit as an elevated expressway passes over it and it has limited access.”

If no one buys a bidding envelope in the next 10 days, then the bidding will close and the SRT will make changes to Plot A’s development plan. The source told Nation Thailand that railway officials might make the site a SRT office building or let other state agencies rent the land, which would not require any more bidding.

SRT is also studying any possibility to pack Plot A into Plot E which has a greater potential for commercial profit and may attract more bidders.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

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Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19 | The Thaiger

Confusion reigns today over if Covid-19 tests will be required for visa extensions.

While Phuket News spoke with an immigration official who said “no… you don’t need a Covid-19 test to extend your visa or apply for a work permit”, Khaosod English wrote an article headlined “Covid-19 test will be mandatory for all visa extension”.

The Thaiger also contacted a respected visa agent who said Covid-19 tests are now required for applying for both visa extensions and work permits including renewals.

The Thai Immigration Bureau has not made any official announcement regarding mandatory Covid-19 tests. Talk about Covid-19 tests for foreigners was brought up after a rule was published in the Royal Gazette last month, officially adding Covid-19 to a list of dangerous diseases, prohibiting those infected with any of the listed illnesses from entering the country.

Immigration Police Bureau spokesperson Archayon Kraithong told Khaosod English that proof of a negative Covid-19 test will be required for visa extensions, regardless of how long a foreigner has stayed in Thailand.

Medical exams are currently already required for most work permit applicants (including tests for Syphilis and Elephantiasis). A visa agent told The Thaiger that Covid-19 tests have been added to the medical examination requirements.

We’ll bring you any further clarification on that issue as it becomes available.

Research shows that online learning causes a 50% drop in mathematical comprehension, and a 30% drop in reading literacy among Thai students.

Research presented by the government’s Equitable Education Fund indicates that months of home-learning cannot match in-school study and in fact, can cause a deterioration in students’ ability. With schools currently closed in 28 Thai provinces, thousands of children across the country are joining in with online classes.

The EEF says home-schooling, with the use of screens, also has a negative effect on students’ mental health and their social and emotional development. The research, carried out by the Northwest Evaluation Association, echoes a study done by Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology, which demonstrates that learning through technology is no match for face-to-face learning in the classroom.

Home schooling has been shown to contribute to a decline in overall knowledge, as well as affecting access to quality nutrition, age-appropriate learning, and social experiences.

The EEF says online learning will only serve to widen the gap between rural children and those in the cities by about 2 years, potentially leading to economic disparity and fuelling a cycle of poverty for generations.

With the number of Covid-19 infections among migrant workers in Samut Sakhon failing to drop significantly, the PM is instructing officials to make sure companies are not still hiring illegal workers.

Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke to the deputy governor by video conference from Government House yesterday.

The central province of Samut Sakhon is considered the epicentre of Thailand’s current surge of Covid-19 infections, following an outbreak at the provinces coastal fish markets last month.

The resurgence is linked to migrant workers who were smuggled into the Kingdom illegally, bypassing health checks and the mandatory quarantine requirements. The companies are always seeking cheap labour for the competitive seafood market and have long flouted Thailand’s labour laws with hundreds of cases of forced labour and slavery coming out of the sector.

Samut Sakhon’s own governor tested positive for the virus and remains under hospital care, although he’s now off the ventilator.

As the devastating economic effects of Covid-19 restrictions persist, a record number of Thai tourism operators are quitting the sector for good.

The number of tourism companies surrendering their licences peaked last month, and around 70% of outbound agents have now shut up shop indefinitely. The final nail in their collective coffins has been the latest Covid-19 resurgence, which was detected on December 20 last year in the central province of Samut Sakhon and has now spread to over 60 Thai provinces.

The president of the Thai Travel Agents Association says around 10% of outbound tour operators have returned their licences to the Tourism Department. 2,598 tourism operators have left the sector for good, unable to survive having no international tourists for nearly a year now. The last quarter of 2020 also saw the highest number of companies de-registering, at 765. Of those, 293 quit last month.

Pundits predict that domestic tourism may pick up again by April, but this depends on how effective the government is at bringing the second wave of the virus under control. The TTAA adds, that with the arrival of spring in many parts of the world in the coming months, global infections may fall, but it’s still a waiting game.

The TTAA says that in 2019, 11 million Thai tourists spent 430 billion baht on overseas trips. Last year, that plummeted to 1 million spending only 50 billion baht, and most of that was in the first couple of months of the year.

In the midst of a new wave of Covid-19 infections, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be approved for emergency use and injections could begin next month in Thailand.

The local roll out would start with vulnerable groups who are in the 5 coastal provinces under maximum control to contain the coronavirus – Samut Sakhon, Trat, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Rayong.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine for emergency use this week. The FDA is examining documents as part of the registration process and to declare the vaccine’s efficacy and safety.

Thailand had earlier secured 26 million doses of the vaccine, which is developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the UK’s Oxford University. The Thai company Siam Bioscience is also poided to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine. Injections for the general public are projected to start in the second half of 2021.

Thailand has also secured 2 million doses of China’s Sinovac BioTech vaccine. The first batch of 200,000 doses is expected to arrive in February. 800,000 more doses will arrive in March and 1 million doses in April.

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