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Thailand News Today | Shots fired, the yellow ducks, “no coup” promise | November 26

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Today’s news includes some live footage of the explosion and chaos at last night’s rally outside the Siam Commercial Bank building. Here we go with today’s Thailand news.

An explosion and gunshots fired at last night’s protest outside the Siam Commercial Bank HQ

There were reports of shootings and the throwing of an explosive device, caught on video at last night’s protest out the front of the Siam Commercial Bank HQ.

2 people were shot and injured in the chaos that erupted as people were starting to head home after the rally at about 10.10pm.

Firstly there was a man, dressed in a bike helmet, caught on camera hurling some explosive, through to be a pipe bomb, into a crowd of protesters. After the explosion there was up to 4 gunshots fired. A gunman was apprehended whilst other alleged shooters escaped into the crowd. Both the injured protesters were rushed to hospital. The protesters had their own security contingent present at yesterday’s rally, some 50 volunteers, who co-operated with police in their immediate investigation into the incident.

Yellow ducks dominate at Bangkok pro-democracy rally

Speaking about the protests, what is it about the yellow inflatable ducks that keep popping up at the rallies?

Having been used at protests in Hong Kong earlier this year, the rubber duck has also become a regular feature at the Thai protests, a symbol of mutual support between both pro-democracy movements. And, more practically, became a useful defensive shield to fend off the water cannons and anything else that ended up hurled at the protesters.

At yesterday’s rally outside the SCB building, the duck could be seen everywhere, with enterprising vendors selling t-shirts, toys, hats, torches and hair pins, all bearing the yellow duck’s image.

Yesterday’s protest was originally set to take place at the Crown Property Bureau, but organisers took to social media the night before to announce a change of location to the SCB headquarters. Protest leaders say the change was to avoid a confrontation with royalists who, they claim, were being deliberately sent to provoke them.

10 passengers injured after Bangkok-Chiang Khong bus crashes into tree

10 people were injured and sent to the hospital after a bus driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree early this morning.

The double-decker passenger bus on the Bangkok-Chiang Khong route was passing through the Phitsanulok province in Central Thailand when the driver lost control and crashed into a tree on the side of the road. The incident happened at 2:50am.

Thai PM insists martial law will not be used against protesters

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he has no intention of resorting to martial law to put an end to the current political impasse and protests. He says that existing laws provide enough scope for dealing with those who take matters into their own hand.

But the then General Prayut, head of the Thai army, made similar assurances in the latter stages of the Yingluck Shinawatra government before he led the NCPO in a bloodless military coup against her government in May 2014.

City officials plan to demolish abandoned Pattaya condo project

After years of talks, threats, and complaints, the abandoned Waterfront condo development overlooking Pattaya’s Bali Hai pier looks set to be demolished.

The Waterfront Suites and Residence is a half-finished condo project that was stalled in 2014 after safety inspectors discovered that the building’s fire escapes and elevator systems designs varied from the already approved construction designs.

Now Pattaya’s mayor says officials plan to tear down what many have condemned as an eyesore, “as soon as possible”, and charge the owners for the costs of the demolition.

The Israeli-owned development company, Bali Hai, are accused of violating building regulations, by building a structure that exceeds the legal height limit, as well as restrictions on proximity to the beach. Local residents have also complained that the development obstructs the panoramic vista of the bay from Pattaya Hill.

Ex-Thai Airways official gets fat prison sentence for failing to pay excess baggage fees

You’ll never complain about excess baggage charges after hearing what happened to a former Chairman of Thai Airways who’s ended up with a 2 year prison sentence for fudging his baggage allowance on a flight back in 2009.

The former chair for the airline has been sentenced to 2 years in jail because he didn’t pay for 300 kilograms of excess baggage. The court says he abused his authority by ordering airline staff to change the stated weight of luggage so he could get out of paying excess baggage fees.

The judge says the sentence could not be suspended. Ex Chairman Wallop’s lawyers say they will appeal the harsh sentence.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Health Minister volunteering to receive first Covid jab, as effectiveness rate questioned

Maya Taylor

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Health Minister volunteering to receive first Covid jab, as effectiveness rate questioned | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

“I’ll go first!”

Thailand’s Public Health Minister has repeated his pledge to be the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, in a bid to allay people’s concerns. Questions have been raised about the Chinese-manufactured Sinovac Biotech jab after its effectiveness rating was revised downwards by researchers in Brazil.

Anutin Charnvirakul says the vaccine process will be overseen by Sophon Mekthon from the Ministry of Public Health and all safety criteria will be met. The Pattaya News reports that the minister says he has confidence in the safety of the vaccine and is willing to prove it by being the first person to get the jab. It’s not the first time he has made this suggestion but there has been no official confirmation that the Health Minister will be first in line.

Thailand has ordered 2 million doses of the vaccine, with the first 200,000 expected to arrive next month. The government has also ordered 26 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University but is not expected to take delivery of that vaccine until the middle of the year.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Economy

Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme

Maya Taylor

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Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Finance Ministery is considering adding another registration round to the Khon La Khrueng (“Let’s Go Halves”) co-payment scheme, as 1.34 million rights have not yet been taken up. The government introduced the scheme last October, in an effort to stimulate the Covid-battered economy. Under the scheme, Thai citizens get a 50% subsidy on the purchase of food, drink and general products, up to 150 baht per person per day, to a maximum of 3,000 baht for the duration of the scheme. Those who sign up need to make purchases within 14 days of their registration.

The first phase got under way on October 23 and finished on December 31, with the government setting aside 30 billion baht to cover 10 million people. The second phase began on January 1 and runs until March 31, covering an additional 5 million people. The cap has also been raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht.

Kulaya Tantitemit from the Fiscal Policy Office says that of the combined 15 million rights, 13.66 have been taken up. The Bangkok Post reports that those who have not received subsidy rights can register for the 1.34 million that remain by the end of this month.

The Finance Ministry is also considering a third phase of the scheme, based on the success of the first 2 phases, according to Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Arrest warrants sought for 8 civilians suspected of smuggling migrant workers

Maya Taylor

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Arrest warrants sought for 8 civilians suspected of smuggling migrant workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: AP

Deputy national police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas has confirmed that arrest warrants are being sought for 8 civilians implicated in the illegal smuggling of migrant workers. The Bangkok Post reports that the 8 face charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. The workers were trafficked from Myanmar to the central Thai province of Samut Sakhon, where the latest outbreak of Covid-19 began last month. 20 police officers are also being investigated for their role in the smuggling operation. They have been suspended from duty pending a full investigation. It’s thought there are up to 25 police officers suspected of involvement.

“After tracing the migrant workers’ route into Samut Sakhon and then jobs at its shrimp market, we found that most received direct assistance from more than 20 police officials and eight civilians. They smuggled the workers across the border in Sangkhla Buri district of Kanchanaburi and then provided transport to get them to Samut Sakhon.”

Damrongsak says an investigative committee is being set up prior to criminal prosecution and disciplinary action being taken against the police officers involved.

“A formal fact-finding procedure will be carried out before both disciplinary and legal action is pursued against them.”

The committee, which is being chaired by the assistant national police chief, will work with a separate panel set up by the government to investigate the role of police officers in people smuggling. The committee is mostly made up of police officers. Damrongsak says PM Prayut Chan-o-cha insists that investigating officers carry out their duties in an honest and transparent manner.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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