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Thailand News Today, Monday, March 9, 2020

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Thailand News Today, Monday, March 9, 2020 | Thaiger

Daily TV news update with Tim Newton…

Village leader slain in drive-by shooting in South

Gunmen in Pattanni province in Thailand’s restive South shot dead an assistant village headman while he was exercising at a children’s playground yesterday.

Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala are home to Thailand’s 22 decade-long Southern insurgency.

The drive-by shooting occurred at playground in front of a football field in tambon Yarang.

Witnesses say Chanwit Kaso was using the exercise equipment when four men pulled up on two motorcycles, opening fire at Chanwit with a pistol, hitting him three times in the body, killing him instantly. The gunnmen fled immediately after the attack.

Yala judge’s suicide letter forces spotlight on independence of the Thai judiciary

The suicide letter from a former Yala judge, who took his own life on Saturday in Chiang Mai, continued to raise many suspicions about the independence of the Thai judicial system.

Khanakorn Pianchana, previously the head of the trial court at Yala Provincial Court in southern Thailand, took his own life on Saturday in his Chiang Mai residence. He posted a 2 page letter dated March 6 titled “Khanakorn October” which he posted on his Facebook page.

The letter mentioned the incident last October when he shot himself in the Yala courtroom after begrudgingly reading a ruling he said had been influenced by a senior judge. His letter continued to criticise the independence of Thai judges.

Lost at sea: Thailand – A study from ISLA

The International Surf Lifesaving Association has just released an alarming study it calls “Lost at Sea: Thailand”.

The study highlights the dangers of the moody Andaman Sea that surrounds the Island of Phuket in southern Thailand.

The document notes a total of 253 deaths and 417 serious injuries related to drowning incidents since May 2012. The document calls for Phuket officials to assist local lifeguards to create a unified, professional lifeguard force for the Island. Only then, they say, will the grisly drownings, jet-ski accidents, vessel collisions and snorkelling deaths begin to recede.

Minister says aide not involved in massive mask-hoarding

Responding to a report on Facebook, Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow is embroiled in another controversy.

The Minister admitted today that his assistant met a man who was reported to be hoarding face masks, but he denied they discussed the mask trade. The post alleged that Thamanat’s close aide had a hoard of 200 million medical face masks for resale to China. He said on his own Facebook page there was a man hoarding masks for sale, but emphasised he has no connection with the man, who he named. But he did admit that his aide met the man at the Marriott Hotel in Pratunam, Bangkok.

Thamanat, aka Manat Bophlom, was convicted of conspiring to import heroin to Australia in 1994, and sentenced to six years imprisonment. He served four years, then was deported upon his release. Thamanat denies the conviction, and claims he never confessed to the charges.

Government looking at ways to lower public electricity bills

Thailand’s Energy Ministry is examining ways to lower electricity bills for the general public to ease their burden in response to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy

The Energy Minister says has been meeting with related electricity agencies today, including the Energy Regulatory Commission, to discuss the issue. If approved, there will be a three month long measure and will be implemented as soon as possible. The ministry is also studying ways to lower the price of cooking gas, petrol and diesel.

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Road deaths

Songkran’s 7 dangerous days: 2,365 road accidents, 277 deaths

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FILE PHOTO: This year saw 30% less deaths and accidents over Songkran week.

We’ve finally reached the end of the Songkran holiday “7 dangerous days”, where over 2,300 road accidents resulted in 2,357 injuries and 277 deaths. Every year Thai officials brace for the surge in holiday travel that brings a surge in accidents as well, but the silver lining of Covid-19 is the reduction in accidents. This year saw a drop of nearly 30% from pre-Covid totals over the 2019 Songkran holiday period. Here’s the final day’s summary and the totals for the week:

DAILY FIGURES

On the final day of the Thai government’s weeklong safety campaign, there were 253 road accidents with 255 injuries and 26 deaths. The provinces with the most deaths were Ubon Ratchathani with 3 deaths, and then Chanthaburi and Phetchabun, both with 2 fatalities in each.

TOTALS

The 277 deaths and 2,357 injuries as a result of 2,365 accidents is a significant reduction from non-Covid years where road accidents and deaths were 30% higher. In 2019, the Songkran “7 dangerous days” totalled 3,338 accidents, with 3,442 injuries and 386 deaths. 2021’s muted Songkran holiday period saw about a thousand fewer accidents and injuries and over 100 fewer fatalities.

Final figures following the trends we saw daily, with 79% of all accidents involving motorbikes with 7% involving pickup trucks, a distant second. Drunk driving was the number 1 cause of road accidents with nearly 37% of all accidents involving alcohol. 28% of accidents were caused by speeding, while sudden lane changes accounted for 18% of incidents. Late afternoons from 4 pm to 8 pm had 29% of road accidents, followed by 21% of incidents that happened earlier from noon to 4 pm.

Highways were the most dangerous, with nearly 40% of accidents happening there. Community or village roads accounted for 36% of accident locations. Teenagers made up the biggest demographic of fatalities, with 15 to 19 year olds making up 15% of deaths. 30 to 39 year olds made up just over 14% of road deaths.

The deadliest provinces over the 7 dangerous days were Pathum Thani with 10 deaths, followed by Bangkok and Chiang Mai, both of which had 9 fatalities. Nakhon Si Thammarat, with 106 incidents, recorded the most road accidents of any province, followed by Chiang Mai with 77 crashes and Songkla with 69.

During the course of the road safety campaign, police and traffic authorities pulled over 2.3 million motorbikes and 100,000 other vehicles, issuing almost 460,000 citations, notably for not wearing helmets, having a driver’s license, or fastening seatbelts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list

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Officials not worried Thailand remains on US currency watch list | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand is on the watch list for possible currency manipulation.

Thailand remains on the United States Treasury’s “Monitoring List” of countries whose currency trade practices need to be watched, though Thai officials say they are not worried. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen releases a foreign exchange report twice a year including labelling alleged currency manipulators and flagging suspect trading partner countries to be monitored.

The Bank of Thailand said remaining on the US currency watch list poses no threat to Thai businesses or the government’s ability to enact policies to promote financial stability. They stress that Thailand has never manipulated currency, using the exchange rate to get a competitive edge or an unfair trade advantage over other countries.

This most recent report tags 11 countries as warranting a closer watch: China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. Mexico and Ireland were the 2 new inclusions, not on the previous report in December 2020. Also in the report, the US Treasury Department toed the line of accusing Switzerland, Taiwan, and Vietnam of manipulating currency.

They stated yesterday that the 3 countries had crossed the line of 2015 US trade laws, but didn’t officially brand them as currency manipulators. The thresholds of that 2015 rule include either global current account surplus or foreign currency intervention over 2% of GDP, and having a trade surplus with the US over US $20 billion trade.

The flagging of Taiwan, Vietnam and Switzerland falls short of applying the manipulator label due to a 1988 law requiring evidence of manipulation to stop balance of payment adjustments or to gain a trade advantage. The US is already engaged in talks with Vietnam and Switzerland and will enter into “enhanced engagement” with Taiwan as well. Not being upgraded to the manipulator title relieves pressure from Switzerland and Vietnam, who both received the label in the last report issued by the Trump administration.

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance and Live Mint

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals

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Thai Hotel Association pushes “hospitels” – hotels as hospitals | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Artist rendering of a "hospitel" - a hotel converted to a hospital.

With the third wave of Covid-19 ripping through Thailand, hospitals are rapidly filling up and the Thai Hotels Association has proposed “hospitels” as a creative solution. The portmanteau of “hospital” and “hotel” is the THA’s brainchild for creating more space for the growing number of Covid-19 infections that require treatment or at least observation as Thailand hits record daily case numbers. The idea of turning hotels into temporary hospitals was promoted by association president Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi this week.

“The move aims to reduce crowdedness at hospitals and promote continuous care for Covid-19 patients after new cases increased rapidly since late March.”

23 hotels have already registered to be hospitals, with 2,000 patients currently receiving treatment in the 4,900 available beds. The Ministry of Public Health laid out guidelines for hotels interested in participating. Hotels must have a minimum of 30 rooms and pass the alternative state quarantine evaluation. The ASQ-approved properties must have evidence of acknowledgement by the surrounding community to confirm their validity and eligibility. The hotel must be able and willing to take care of hospitalised patients for 5 to 7 days, even with no signs of symptom progression. Conversely, patients checking in must agree to stay in the hotel and be relatively self-sufficient.

Strict medical requirements must be met as well. Each patient must be provided with their own digital thermometer and pulse oximeter, and a portable x-ray machine must be available. The hotels must be staffed like hospitals, with at least one doctor, a clinical psychologist, a pharmacist, a radiologist, and an infection control nurse. There must also be one nurse per every 20 patients staying at the property.

This proposed solution might provide a welcomed supplement to the rudimentary field hospitals the Thai army has been hastily building to accommodate the influx of newly infected patients. While the quick work is commendable, some have hypothesized that at-risk foreigners may be ignoring calls to come forward for Covid-19 testing in part because being diagnosed may land them in these less-than-posh field hospitals for days on end. A more comfortable “hospitel” would allow infected foreigners to be treated in more pleasant surroundings thus encouraging them to come forward for testing.

SOURCE: National News Bureau and Nation Thailand

 

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