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Thailand News Today I Still no idea what “endemic” in Thailand means

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As the west holds concerts in packed stadiums without masks, here in Thailand we still have no idea what endemic means for us.

According to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the National Communicable Diseases Committee has STARTED talking about post-pandemic measures when the coronavirus is declared endemic in Thailand, and whether travellers should still wear face masks.

Speaking to Thai media yesterday, Anutin claimed that, with public collaboration and increased vaccinations, new cases and deaths have decreased faster than predicted. The country very recently lowered the Covid 19 alert to Level 3 from Level 4, but they still advise against “going to crowded places like entertainment venues”.

At the start of this month, Thailand dropped PCR tests – pre-travel and on-arrival – for vaccinated travellers while the Thailand Pass is still required for Thais and foreigners coming into the country. Since then, there have been at least 300,000 people who entered Thailand since the Test & Go and Sandbox programs were scrapped.

The Minister declared that there have been fewer than 10 cases of Covid 19 from visitors arriving each day… “so there is a chance for Thailand Pass to be scrapped as well”.

However, to the dismay of many viewers, he added that “To limit the spread of Covid, the Department of Disease Control would encourage travellers to wear face masks.”

So based on what we know, it seems that people will still be required to wear face masks in public, even after the Thailand Pass is dropped.
As of now, no dates have been given for the dropping of the Thailand Pass, when Thailand will declare the coronavirus endemic, or, more importantly, what endemic even entails!

———–

The Cabinet has announced changes to Thailand’s SMART visa and expanded the list of targeted industries. As always, they were vague about when the changes would come into effect.

Thailand’s Board of Investment offers a 4-year SMART visa to foreign investors, executives, entrepreneurs and highly-skilled experts to accelerate the development of Thailand’s “target industries.” SMART visa holders are not required to obtain a work permit to legally work in the kingdom.

Since 2018, Thailand has offered a SMART visa for foreigners who wish to work or invest in the following industries.

  • Next-Generation Automotive
  • Affluent, Medical and Wellness Tourism
  • Agriculture and Biotec
  • Aviation and Logistics
  • Biofuels and Biochemicals
  • Digital industries
  • Medical Hubs
  • Smart Electronics
  • Food for the Future
  • Automation and Robotics
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Resource Development in Science and Technology
  • Environmental Management and Renewable Energy
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Yesterday, Thailand’s Cabinet announced the addition of the following industries.

  • Defence
  • Aerospace
  • And industries that support a ‘Circular Economy’ e.g. renewable energy production and water management

Based on their definition, a ‘Circular Economy’ is a model of production and consumption based on sharing, reusing, repairing and recycling existing materials for as long as possible. The examples of ‘Circular Economy’ industries listed by the Cabinet are by no means exhaustible. If you’re not sure if your industry fits the description, you can just contact Thailand’s Board of Investment.

The Cabinet announced that investors applying for a SMART visa must make a direct investment of no less than 20 million baht in a business that uses technology in their production process or to provide services.

————

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan claims that Thailand has done a lot to combat human trafficking and deserves to move up to Tier 2 in the next Trafficking In Persons report by the US State Department.

Prawit addressed Thailand’s progress in tackling human trafficking in a press conference yesterday.

In the latest annual TIP report, published in June 2021, the US demoted Thailand from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watch List… The report read.
“The government of Thailand does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.

However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous year, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. The government initiated significantly fewer trafficking investigations, prosecuted fewer suspects, and convicted fewer traffickers than in 2019.”

The report added that…

“Thai authorities have never reported identifying a victim of labor trafficking as a result of fishing vessel inspections conducted at ports. The government’s provision of services to victims remained inadequate, and some victims residing in government shelters lacked freedom of movement. Corruption and official complicity continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts.”

But this year, Prawit says he is sure Thailand will return back to Tier 2. He cited the government’s efforts to introduce mechanisms to manage human trafficking legal cases, provide remedy to victims, and tackle unfair employment practices.

He said last year, the government tackled 188 human trafficking cases, and has introduced online methods to help manage cases of human trafficking and to help victims.

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After the US TIP report 2021 accused Thailand’s authorities of lacking standard procedures in labour trafficking cases, the government issued an operations manual for officials to deal with such cases. Employers in Thailand are now required to draw up labour contracts both in Thai and the language of immigrant workers.

The government has also set up a national centre for separating victims from human traffickers.
Prawit said Thailand has taken on board and implemented all the suggestions made for Thailand in last year’s TIP report, adding that

“All these operations clearly show the Thai government is trying its best to prevent and suppress human trafficking sustainably, so Thailand deserves to be upgraded to Tier 2 this year.”

———-

Not so fast, nature killers! After Thai media reported construction tools and trucks digging soil on a hill in Kamala, Phuket, officials have banned any further excavation on the site.

The Kathu District Chief confirmed the ban when he and other officials revisited the site on Tuesday. He said that no government office has issued a building permit for any form of construction.

Now, officials have been given 7 days to identify which local administration is responsible for the site where the activity took place. Thai media outlet Isra News reported last week that the site was 90 metres above sea level, and therefore any construction was illegal. The site is reportedly near a famous golf course.

In its reportage of the site, Isra News Agency said that excavating the site might violate many laws, including by encroaching on a protected forest reserve.

The Office of Natural Resources and Environment is also investigating the excavation to decide whether any environmental laws were broken.
But the team that inspected the site reportedly did not find anyone there, and no construction machinery was there when the team went to investigate. Officers still took photos of the site, which were posted on PR Phuket’s Facebook page.

An illegal construction incident happened in Thailand’s south in March when an unnamed party was allegedly building a road on a historic mountain in Songkhla province.

The mountain is Khao Daeng. It has historic archeological structures. Civic groups that gathered at the local fine arts office to support authorities told the Bangkok Post many trees were cut down, and soil had been dugout.

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——-

A man who made headlines two months ago for releasing cobras and cutting his wrists at a busy intersection in Bangkok has gained more attention for slapping a political activist in the face at a protest in Bangkok.

A real estate businessman who has the nickname ‘K Hundred Million’, said he slapped the woman because she insulted Thailand’s royal family. The incident happened on the skywalk outside the MBK centre.
Last time, 46-year-old K, performed some sort of ritual outside of Central World. He parked his red Mercedes Benz in the middle of the road, stopping the traffic, tossed flowers on his car, cut his arms with a knife, and then poured his blood and red syrup onto the floor. He was shouting something about the nation and something about Siam Devadhiraj, who Thais believe to be a guardian of the country. Later, he fled to India where he apparently caused “chaos” in Mumbai and was arrested by local police. Then he posted on Facebook saying he was not sorry for what he had done.

Yesterday, K Hundred Million slapped 67-year-old Worawan, a well-known Thai activist, in the face. Worawan is a merchant but also an activist and is often at the forefront of many political protests that happen in Bangkok.

Yesterday, the political activist news page Ratsadon News posted a video of the incident on Facebook. In the video, วรวรรณ can be seen standing with her cart on the MBK skywalk. Then, K Hundred Million walks up to her, points at her, and slaps her in the face so hard that she falls to the floor. Many people witnessed the incident and police officers were already present at the scene.

After that, the protesters tried to attack K Hundred Million. The police got the situation under control and took the man to Pathumwan Police Station. The superintendent said the man was charged for the attack and could face more charges if the victim is badly injured. His request to get out on bail was rejected

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