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Thailand News Today | Rumours of amnesty extension, 22 new Covid cases | September 28

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22 new cases of Covid-19 detected in Thailand

Out of nowhere, the Thai government’s CCSA has reported 22 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours this morning, raising the country’s total of infections to 3,545.

22 cases is the largest number of daily cases announced in a 24 hour period since April 5 this year when Thailand was emerging from its first wave.

16 of the new cases have come from imported cases, and became apparent whilst they were in quarantine during routine tests. The people have arrived from South Sudan, 4 people from India, 1 from Pakistan and 1 from the Philippines.

Thai doctor warns about short-cuts in quarantine

Meanwhile, a doctor from the Faculty of Medicine at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University says reducing the quarantine period for foreign tourists would be inviting disaster.

Dr. Thira Woratanarat made his statement after a suggestion from the Tourism and Sports Minister that quarantine could be halved if all goes well when Thailand re-opens its borders to a limited number of foreign tourists.

“In Thailand, if we decide to follow the proposal to reduce the quarantine time to 7 days, it would be an invitation to disaster.”

Rumours of a new visa amnesty, up to October 31

Thai Immigration offices have been flooded with foreigners trying to find a last minute solution to stay in the country and figure their situation out before the end of the visa amnesty… September 26, last Saturday.

The end of the amnesty, allowing visitors with lapsed visas to remain in the country, put many in a difficult situation, especially after a warning from the government the people could face fines and jail time for overstaying. But foreigners could have 1 more month to figure it out.

The news will come as a massive annoyance to those who went through the hoops last week to meet the deadline, although many thousands simply failed to get an appointment or satisfy the extension requirements, or simply had no flights to leave the country.

The government estimated around 150,000 foreigners were living in the country on amnesty.

Now there’s an “unofficial” letter, on official Thai government letterhead, floating around, claiming that the visa amnesty will be extended until October 31. It’s said the letter is waiting to be signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha which would then be published in the Royal Gazette. The letter title translates loosely as “extension for foreigners staying in Thailand”.

Meanwhile, The Phuket News is reporting that their local immigration office plans to start charging people with overstays from tomorrow.

There’s still a lot of confusion over the finish, or not, of the visa amnesty. We will bring you all the latest details, as soon as they come to hand, at thethaiger.com

“Boss” commission chief says Thai justice system in need of reform

Former National Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Vicha Mahakun, who led the recent inquiry into the handling of the case against Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, says Thailand’s justice system is in need of reform.

The Red Bull heir and grandson of co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, “Boss”, stood accused in a 2012 hit-and-run case that caused the death of a 47 year old Bangkok police officer who was hit by Boss’s Ferrari and dragged over 100 metres, before the car fled the scene.

Boss was never brought to justice and is believed to be living outside Thailand, having managed to flee the Kingdom in 2017. Now, the chairman of the investigating panel says the whole Boss fiasco proves that Thailand’s legal system needs to be reformed. He says the decision to drop all charges in the case clearly came about as a result of systemic corruption in the ranks of Thailand’s police and judicial departments.

“Why was the case, that should have been closed within a year, delayed for 8 years? There’s a legal proverb ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. An attempt to delay it gives a clue.”

1,202 gambling websites to be blocked in Thailand

Thailand is cracking down on online gambling websites. Internet providers will have 15 days to block 1,202 gambling websites before charges are pressed for violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

Although gambling is technically illegal in Thailand, underground and online gambling thrives in pockets of the country. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry was ordered by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to crack down on illegal online gambling. The PM ordered the ministry to block the hundreds of gambling websites within the next 15 days. The ministry has requested 1,202 court warrants citing Computer Crime Act violations.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission is collaborating with the ministry to block access to the gambling websites. The strict order is aimed at keeping teenagers away from online gambling.

More rain fronts on the way around Thailand today and tomorrow

The Thailand Meteorological Department is forecasting more isolated heavy rain over many parts of the country over the next few days.

Last night there were heavy rains and flooding in parts of inner city Bangkok. Cars were stuck in knee-deep water and footpaths were inundated in several inner city suburbs, including Phra Khanong. Phuket also had a rough night of high winds and rain. For most of Thailand, the most rainfall is accumulated in September and October making them the wettest months. We have a special story about Thailand’s monsoon… the link is under here in the description.

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Thailand

Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Josiah Weiss

Cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to dock in Thailand and visitors will be allowed disembark under the Special Tourist Visa. The new measure hasn’t been made official yet, but it will go into effect 30 days after it’s published in the Royal Gazette.

The Cabinet approved the new guidelines yesterday which allows captains, crew and passengers travelling from countries considered at low risk for spreading Covid-19 to dock in Thailand and enter the country, according to deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul.

Visitors must go through a 14 day quarantine. Those on yachts will quarantine onboard before stepping onto Thai soil, according to the Bangkok Post. They must also have Covid-19 health insurance of $100,000 USD as well as local health and accident insurance. Proof of advance payment for anchoring the liner will also have to be provided.

The Special Tourist Visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to around 9 months. So far, only 2 flights of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa have arrived after a 7 month ban on international tourists.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram

Caitlin Ashworth

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Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

A fuel tanker has exploded after a collision with a trailer truck, causing both vehicles to be engulfed in flames in a series of explosions. Fuel from the 40,000-litre tank spilled out onto the road, spreading about 1 kilometre to nearby homes and into the sewers. People trying to douse the spreading flames found they were just pushing the flaming fuel further down the road, 20 cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks parked along the road were damaged or destroyed in the fire. Many people were injured, but there is no exact count.

The fuel tanker truck and the trailer truck collided on Highway 24 in the Isaan province Buri Ram. The drivers were able to flee before the first explosion. There were a series of explosions as the fuel spread and nearby residents fled their homes. People tried to put the flames out with tap water, but fire continued to spread.

50 fire engines responded to the fire and the road was closed off for a radius of 5 kilometres. It took firefighters more than 4 hours to extinguish the fire. The oil company was called to safely unload 30,000 litres of fuel that was left in the tanker.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island?

Caitlin Ashworth

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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island? | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

OPINION

Koh Pha Ngan was voted third best island in Asia in the 2020 Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards. The island is widely known for its monthly Full Moon parties on Haad Rin beach, but Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto, who boasted about the island’s recent rating, said there’s more to Koh Pha Ngan than Haad Rin.

Condé Nast publishes a monthly travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, as well as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue. It’s safe to say the publication’s target audience is more interested in luxury resorts than dirt cheap party hostels and monthly beach raves. For example, for the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was voted number 1. It’s a golf lovers paradise and a popular vacation spot for suburban families.

A trip Koh Pha Ngan can be a completely different experience depending on where you go and what you do. Some stay on Haad Rin on the southeastern side of the island and have a trip like Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fueled “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” while some go to the western side for a yoga or healing retreat.

The Full Moon parties, which would draw more than 30,000 mostly foreign tourists, was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Thailand. But before the outbreak, the parties were known to be crazy with neon glow paint, fire jump rope and cheap buckets of alcohol and use of illicit drugs. The sand was so sticky that people were better off wearing shoes, and just about everyone pees (and pukes) in the ocean.

Even on the west side of the island, where it’s more known for yoga and meditation retreats, things can sometimes get a little weird. A tourist said she did a “spiritual healing” ritual on the island known as a kambo cleanse where secretion from a South American frog is applied to burnt skin. She said “I feels like you’re dying” but “it’s great.”

While the west side of the island has trendy resorts and bungalows, as well as a variety of yoga retreats and pricy vegan food, some people also live on a budget – a very tight budget. Some tourists even camped out on a hidden beach during the pandemic, a tourist claims. A local artist said he lives in a cave on the same beach.

Koh Pha Ngan topped Bali, Indonesia, which was number 9 on the list. Phuket was number 8 on the list and Koh Samui was number 10.

Here’s what made the top 10 Asia islands in the Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards 2020.

  1. Cebu & Visayas, Philippines 95.83
  2. Sri Lanka 95.45
  3. Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand 95.30
  4. Palawan, Philippines 95.22
  5. Siargao Island, Philippines 95.19
  6. Boracay, Philippines 95.06
  7. Lombok, Indonesia 94.59
  8. Phuket, Thailand 94.12
  9. Bali, Indonesia 93.27
  10. Koh Samui, Thailand 92.73

SOURCES: Condé Nast | Bangkok Post

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