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Thailand News Today – Monday, May 18

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Thailand’s Covid-19 numbers, 2 from Bangkok, one in Phuket

3 new cases of the coronavirus have been announced in Thailand today, bringing the total cases to 3,031. No additional deaths were recorded, leaving the accumulated toll at 56.

Of the 3 new cases reported, two were a man and a woman in Nonthaburi province (north west of Bangkok) who shared the same workplace, and the other person was a 27 year old woman from Phuket working in retail. She had a history of contact with another confirmed case from Prachinburi who had recently travelled off the island.

 

Of the Phuket case, the CSSA spokesperson today said the case raised concerns about other people who had recently left Phuket travelling to their home towns. 12 confirmed cases found in other provinces since March had spent time in Phuket.
Golden Triangle drug trade thrives during pandemic

The Golden Triangle is notorious for one thing. Drugs. And while the coronavirus pandemic is crippling businesses across Thailand, the drug industry around the Myanmar-Laos-Thailand border seems to be flourishing.

Production of synthetic drugs coming in from the Golden Triangle is hitting record highs. Opium and heroin production in the Golden Triangle has been declining in recent years, but synthetic drug production is on the rise, mostly in relatively mobile meth labs that hide undetected under the canopy of the region’s rainforests. Both methamphetamine and Fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) production are being ramped up at staggering rates.

 

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime says that the supply of synthetic drugs in the Golden Triangle continues to grow and the organised crime groups have intensified.

 

Dengue fever on the rise in Isaan

 

While Thailand is slowly getting a handle on containing the coronavirus pandemic, the Isaan region is tackling a bout of dengue fever.

 

There’s been a rise of the mosquito-borne illness in Nakhon Ratchasima, in Thailand’s north east, with 737 cases. Local health volunteers have ramped up initiatives to prevent the further spread of the disease.

 

Other northeastern provinces have also seen a rise in dengue…. in Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Surin.

 

Hot in the north, wet in the south, cyclone in the Bay of Bengal

 

Hot conditions, along with thunderstorms and gusty winds, are the feature of weather in the north east and eastern regions over the next few days. There’s also a huge cyclone in the Bay of Bengal affecting southern Thailand’s weather.

 

The extensive storm system, which has now been named Cyclone Amphan, is in the northern past of the Bay of Bengal and bearing down on the coastal areas near the Indi and Bangladeshi border.

 

The cyclone is growing to an equivalent Category 4 hurricane. Amphan will impact the coastal areas by Wednesday local time with potentially catastrophic impacts.

 

Meanwhile, temperatures are expected to get back into the low 40s again in the north and northwestern provinces of Thailand.

 

Phi Phi’s Maya Bay won’t reopen until fully rehabilitated

 

Maya Bay, Krabi’s main tourist attraction since it was featured in the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘The Beach’, will remain closed as natural rehabilitation of the beach and bay continues. The closure is indefinite at this time with no plans to reopen.

 

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment says that in future boats will not be allowed to enter Maya Bay except from the back side of the island. Yesterday the minister visited Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Ley to inspect the progress of the recovery of both the land and marine environment. He says corals are not recovering as quickly as expected.

 

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced the closure of Maya Bay on June 1, 2018, banning tourism and related businesses. At its peak there were up to 5,000 tourists stomping around the shores of Maya Bay every day.

 

In brief…

 

• Phuket woman shot at in her bed yesterday around 5am, her ex-husband is being sought as the prime suspect. The woman wasn’t injured.

 

• 250 Thai citizens repatriating from UK and Ireland today. One they arrive in Bangkok, they will be required to enter a 14 day mandatory quarantine period at a government facility.

• 4 people and 3 dogs have been rescued from Phitsanulok forest. They’d spent five days missing after going to forage for fruit.

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Thailand

Elephant injures 2 Burmese men in Kanchanburi

Jack Burton

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Elephant injures 2 Burmese men in Kanchanburi | The Thaiger
PHOTO: ONBNEWS

2 Burmese men were attacked and critically injured by an elephant in a forest in the western province of Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum district last night, according to Thong Pha Phum National Park officials. They had only patchy details of the incident.

35 year old “Tun” and 60 year old “Ngae” had gone into the forest to pick mushrooms in tambon Huay Khayeng. They were returning home when they were attacked by an elephant. Both men were knocked to the ground. Tun was stomped on the chest and Ngae on one leg. Park officials and a rescue unit arrived at the spot around 9:30pm and first helped Tun out of the forest and rushed him to Thong Pha Phum Hospital.

They then returned to the forest and brought Ngae out sometime around 11.30pm. His left leg was broken and he was admitted to Phahon Phonphayuhasena Hospital in the town’s Muang district.

Park officials frequently warn people in the area to beware of wild elephants from Huay Khayeng and Ban Rai forests. Herds have been frequently sighted recently in the mountainous area, which borders Myanmar.

In April a man was killed in Chiang Mai in a similar incident, the second such occurrence in a week.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Central Thailand prepares for return of thousands of Burmese workers

Maya Taylor

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Central Thailand prepares for return of thousands of Burmese workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AFP/The Asean Post

The central province of Samut Sakhon is preparing for the return of over 5,000 migrant labourers from Myanmar over the next month. The workers had returned to their home country to obtain the required paperwork and officials now say their employers must take responsibility for their quarantine.

Employers are being asked to arrange accommodation to house the workers for the 14 day mandatory quarantine period, with Samut Sakhon governor Veerasak Vijitsaengsri expressing his confidence that the actions of employers and officials will mean there will be no further spreading of the Covid-19 virus among the migrant community.

Officials will no doubt be looking at the recent experience in Singapore, where the virus was thought to be under control until an outbreak in more than 20,000 of its migrant workers caused an unexpected “second wave”, with the city state regularly reporting over 1,000 new cases a day at one point. The country now has over 32,000 cases after having a total of exactly 1,000 cases on April 1.

Nation Thailand reports that around 600 companies based in Samut Sakhon will re-hire 5,400 workers from Myanmar after both the Thai and Myanmar governments signed a memorandum of understanding. These companies are now responsible for ensuring their employees fulfill the mandatory quarantine requirements.

Officials state that each worker should be provided with a room and private bathroom if possible, but where two workers must share a room, there must be at least one metre distance between the beds. Regular temperature checks are mandatory, as is the provision of hand sanitiser and face masks for all workers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience

The Thaiger

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4 new board members for THAI restructure, 1 has airline experience | The Thaiger

Four new board members for Thai Airways are the face of hope for the national airline as it addresses massive losses and restructuring. The airline’s business is now being addressed under the country’s Bankruptcy Act.

Piyasvasti Amranand, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Boontuck Wungcharoen and Pailin Chuchottaworn have joined the Thai Airways executive board. Piyasvasti served as the airline’s president from June 2009 to June 2012.

The four board members were hand-picked by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who said he needed “trustworthy people” to help guide the national airline to a more profitable future.

Last week the Thai cabinet approved a plan for the 60 year old airline to enter a court-sanctioned restructuring scheme under the country’s bankruptcy law. The plan for Thai Airways to borrow 54 billion baht to stay afloat in another government ‘bail out’ was met with widespread opposition, from government ministers, prominent businesspeople and social media. The airline has accumulated debts of 244 billion baht. The Covid-19 pandemic has also grounded most of its fleet, massively compounding the airlines’ already complex problems.

Also last week, the Stock Exchange of Thailand listed airline informed the SET that the Finance Ministry had sold 3.17% of its majority shareholding in the airline to the state-backed Vayupak Fund on May 22. This reduced the ministry’s stake from 51.03% to 47.86% control, stripping Thai Airways of its status as a state enterprise, providing more scope for the new board to restructure the airline and seek private financial assistance.

But the government technically retains a majority stake in the airline if the shares of the Finance Ministry, Vayupak Fund and Government Savings Bank are combined.

2 days ago the PM appointed a 9 member committee to handle the restructuring plan for the ailing airline, chaired by trusted sidekick Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam. The other members are mostly state officials, including the permanent secretaries of the Finance, Transport and Justice ministries as well as the secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The four additional board members will help draw up a restructuring plan for the airline.

But critics are warning of potential built-in pitfalls stemming from numerous conflicts of interest. There is no ‘aviation’ expertise and the “jobs for the boys” criticism will not go away with the new board. They all have impressive backgrounds as senior executives in the private and public sectors.

The airline was already swimming in debt when one of the new board members, Piyasvasti Amranand, became Thai Airways president in 2009. He cut costs at the time by slashing salaries and jobs and reducing unnecessary expenditure. At the same time he was the person responsible for locking the airline into a major aircraft acquisition and starting up the subsidiary Thai Smile – originally meant to be competition for regional low-cost carriers but eventually morphed into a domestic offshoot for Thai Airways leaving the parent company mostly with the international routes.

The other new board members are all politically connected with Prayut and have served in his cabinets or as political advisors. They have all had extensive public service experience heading up multiple Thai enterprises.

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