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Thailand News Today | Protests to escalate, Domestic violence, Tourist visa exemptions? | Nov 19

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Just a reminder that it is still safe to travel to Thailand. The protests are in very small pockets around Bangkok and well publicised in advance. If you can, and are prepared to go through all the hoops and paperwork, it’s still a great place to visit.

Bangkok police blame insufficient manpower for failure to control Parliament road clashes

Police in Bangkok have admitted they had insufficient manpower to handle clashes that erupted at protests on Tuesday.

Anti-government activists clashed with pro-establishment groups at the Kiakkai intersection outside the new Thai Parliament, leading to at least 55 people being injured, including 6 who were shot, according to medical officials at the Erawan Medical Centre who attended to the wounded.

The police have come in for heavy criticism for their failure to prevent violence breaking out between rival protest groups.

Anti-government activists condemn rejection of iLaw draft, vow to fight on

Meanwhile, protests look set to continue following Parliament’s decision yesterday to reject a draft charter amendment submitted by human rights non-profit group iLaw, with the backing of over 100,000 signatures.

Protest leaders say the decision has left activists with no choice other than to continue with more, and larger, protests. The Free Youth group accuses parliamentarians of serving a “dictator”, and ignoring the demands of the Thai people.

Last night, protesters ended their rally in central Bangkok just before 9pm. There was quite a lot of graffiti damage around the area as slogans were written on footpaths and BTS train pylons. The front gate of the adjacent police HQ was covered in paint.

Domestic violence on the rise amid falling incomes and rising alcohol consumption

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation says the Covid-19 pandemic may be causing a spike in domestic violence, as incomes fall, debt rises, and more people turn to alcohol.

The foundation claims incidents of domestic abuse have risen by 66% since March, when Covid restrictions were introduced. The biggest rises are in the south of the country, with cases jumping by 48%. Bangkok recorded the lowest rise in incidents, at 26%.

Some Thai embassies dropping 500,000 baht requirement for 60 day tourist visa

Reports are circulating on social media that some Thai embassies are no longer insisting on proof of funds of 500,000 baht for a 60 day tourist visa (not to be confused with the Special Tourist Visa).

Posts in various media groups about the 60 day tourist visa, including some emails to The Thaiger, indicate that some embassies and consulates are no longer listing the requirement for proof of the equivalent of 500,000 baht in an applicants bank account for at least 6 months.

But any applicants on any visa still have to get all the required paperwork together… multiple Covid tests, a fit-to-fly certificate, a certificate of entry from your local embassy, and insurance cover of at least US$100,000. You also have a 14 day quarantine awaiting you when you arrive, at your expense.

Government aims to offer work permits to foreigners who invest at least US$1 million

Probably the most expensive Work Permit in the world. The Thai government is considering offering work permits to foreigners who invest at least US$1 million in Thai property or businesses.

The Centre for Economic Situation Administration has approved a proposal to grant work permits to eligible Thailand Elite Card holders. In order to qualify, they must have the top-tier Thailand Elite membership. They must also be prepared to invest their funds for at least 5 years.

Just another ‘proposal’ we have to keep track of as the visa situation in Thailand becomes increasingly complex.

Apirat Kongsompong appointed deputy director of Crown Property Bureau

His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn has appointed former army chief Apirat, an ardent royalist, as deputy director of the Crown Property Bureau.

Apirat Kongsompong‘s appointment has been announced in the Royal Gazette and is effective immediately.

The Crown Property Bureau is the quasi-government agency responsible for managing the property of the Monarchy of Thailand. The bureau is legally defined as a separate juristic agency and not a government agency.

Apirat has caused some controversy in the past by stating his belief that military intervention is necessary when political unrest gets out of control. He has also in the past denounced politicians and academics he considers, “communist” or “extreme left”.

He’s also expressed his devotion to the Thai monarchy and describes himself as a hard-line royalist.

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Thailand

Thai netizens say pro-government royalists carried out Wednesday’s protest shootings

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Thai netizens say pro-government royalists carried out Wednesday’s protest shootings | The Thaiger
Thailand’s netizens are refuting police’s claims that pro-democracy protesters carried out Wednesday’s rally shootings. The shootings occurred at the rally site near Bangkok’s Siam Commerical Bank head office, where the rally site was originally planned but was then moved after protesters tried to avoid a clash with pro-government royalists. However, shots were fired, with police arresting a suspect on charges of attempted murder, shooting in public without reason, and carrying a firearm in public.

The netizens found footage of the scene, in which they say they identified the faces of the offenders. The revelation came after Deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Piya Tawichai blamed Ratsadon guards for the shootings and injuries.

Meanwhile, the pro-democracy leaders have been called into questionby donors to the movement, as they have criticised how the leaders have used the donations, when a guard was shot and injured. Netizens took to social media to ask what “fairy godmother” Inthira “Sine” Charoenpura and Pakorn “Hia Bung” Pornchewangkurn were buying with the donation money with some online comments mentioning the display of yellow ducks and props as a poor use of donation funds. Some criticisers pointed towards using the donations to buy protective gear for protesters after the shootings occurred, prompting the 2 leaders to issue a statement that they would now use such funds for the injured guards.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thai protests to continue in full force into December in line with symbolic calendar events

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Thai protests to continue in full force into December in line with symbolic calendar events | The Thaiger

The pro-democracy protests are set to continue well into December, according to Thai security officials. Officials have been preparing to cope with a rise in anti-government activities as symbolic calendar events are coming up. Today the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group says a protest will take place outside the 1st Infantry Battalion on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Phaya Thai District, giving credit to the predictions that there will no end in sight to the protests.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a secretary to PM’s Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, made the announcement yesterday in light of the Constitutional Court being set to pass a ruling this Wednesday on whether PM Prayut is guilty of occupying a house that is meant for military officials.

Prayut is accused by the opposition of engaging in the conflict of interest by occupying the army residence. Such a move should have ended with his army chief tenure in 2014, according to critics.

Following the upcoming ruling on Wednesday, the symbolic calendar event of Constitution Day falls on December 10, a day which will ignite more protests as one of the main demands of pro-democracy demonstrators is to have a new Thai charter, along with the resignation of Prayut and reform of the Thai monarchy.

But despite the anticipated rise in rallies, security officials have ruled out the possibility of a military coup. Critics remain sceptical as many demonstrators claim the government has put police on the front lines of the protests, dressed in yellow shirts, in an attempt to spark a clash to pave the way for a coup. The current PM, when he was the head of the Thai Army in 2014, also said there would be “no coup” against the elected Yingluck Shinawatra government. A month later the NCPO led a bloodless coup and installed Prayut Chan-o-cha as the interim prime minister.

Piya Tawichai, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, says protesters yesterday gathered near the Imperial World Samrong shopping mall in Samut Prakan before marching to the Bang Na intersection to rally, partially blocking the road. According to Kissana Phathanacharoen, the deputy spokesman for the national police, the protesters did not obtain permission for staging the rally.

Some protesters also reportedly spray-painted traffic police kiosks with messages that criticised the police for “ditching the people,” and smashed kiosk windows. Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, a protest leader, posted on Facebook yesterday that she has been summoned for violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which bans anyone from criticising the King which states:

“Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”

Rung says she believes the summons is linked to the September 10 anti-government rally.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Chiang Rai

Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production ishould inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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