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Thailand News Today | Famous Youtuber exposes Thailand Test & Go “mess”

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The scene at the airport was of hotel staff shouting to find their guests and tourists searching for the logos of their hotels as if they were playing a puzzle game.

Atichan Cherngchavano, who goes by his online alias “Au Spin9”, is a popular YouTuber reviewer of IT products in Thailand. On Sunday, he posted pictures of crowds of international travellers at the airport on his personal Facebook page, together with a caption complaining about the Test & Go programme and airport management. In his post, which quickly went viral, he said…

“This is how Suvarnabhumi airport manages the passengers from the Test & Go programme. No one can leave. The travellers stood still while various hotel staff shouted out their hotel’s names to find their customers until their voices cracked. Some staff shook their heads in disappointment. Some travellers were angry at the staff, while the staff blamed the airports of Thailand.”

Au continued with his complaint, saying…

“The situation looked just like playing a game to find hotel logos. Everything was ordered randomly, with no alphabetical order and no directory. One counter had tons of hotel logos, and one staff was responsible for more than one hotel. Even if the travellers could find their hotel, they still had to stand like that, waiting for their queue to talk with the staff. This was considered to be just a first mission. More difficulties in this city await them. Foreigners won’t come back again if they have to face this.”

Many Thai netizens liked and shared his post, with some saying they’d had similar experiences. In the comments section, Au said he wanted the people who launched the programme to try using it themselves, so they could realise its problems. Au ended his post with a sarcastic comment, saying those who launched the programme may never notice these problems, as they might have their own “convenient channels” to enter the country.


 

Yesterday, a teenager threw a “ping pong” bomb at Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s house.

On the same day, a mob of “Red Shirt” protesters took to the streets of Bangkok to burn a coffin adorned with pictures of PM Prayut’s face.

Yesterday’s protests were to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the 2010 Red Shirt protests, where 90 people died and 2,000 more were wounded in clashes between security forces and anti-government “Red Shirts” in their fight for democracy.

The teenager threw the bomb at the gate of the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavi Rangsit Road in Bangkok where PM Prayut resides.

The bomb detonated on the lawn opposite PM Prayut’s house but no one was injured. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal team has gathered evidence and investigating officers are looking to prosecute the perpetrators behind the attack. It is unclear whether the incident is linked to the “Red Shirt” protest that happened on the streets of Bangkok yesterday.

At around 5 pm yesterday, more than 4 anti-government “freedom groups”, including a mob of “Red Shirts” moved from the October 14, 1973 Memorial to the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok. At 6:53 pm, protesters poured oil onto a coffin adorned with pictures of Prime Minister Prayut’s face and set it alight. Protesters cheered as the coffin burned and the fire was extinguished only a few minutes later at 6:57 pm, before they cleaned up the mess and dispersed.

The protest commemorated the lives of 90 people who were killed in the 2010 Red Shirt protests against the government at the time.

The 2010 political protests were a series of political protests organised by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, also known as the “Red Shirts”. Put simply, “Red Shirts” are generally supporters of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra and have historically included a large proportion of working-class and rural communities in Thailand, especially in the north and northeast.


 

 

As Thailand’s annual Songkran festival begins this week, all eyes are on the government to see how its strict Covid-prevention measures will affect tourism spending and mitigate new infections, which are expected to spike after the holiday.

As the war in Ukraine continues to hike up global oil and food prices, pundits say how Thailand fares during and after the festival will be a litmus test for the health of the nation’s economy for the rest of the year.

Kasikorn Research Centre expects Omicron variant infections to peak after the holiday. Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry has warned of post-Songkran daily infections in the 100,000 range — if residents don’t strictly follow the Covid prevention measures.

This year, the government is once again imposing strict limitations on festival activities, including a water splashing ban, which has deterred many local hoteliers from holding Songkran celebrations to attract international tourists, as the tourism industry looks to the domestic market for profits this year.

Already, experts are predicting a less than spectacular week for tourism spending.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, although the tourism industry will likely see an improvement in domestic tourism spending during Songkran, it will not be enough to revive the industry, which last year contributed just less than 10% of the nation’s GDP.

That single-digit stat alone represents a 20% reduction from the nation’s pre-pandemic GDP, and according to TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn,

“Further relaxation is necessary for the tourism industry. We started this process last year and should not be left behind.”


 

The reopening of the Thai-Malaysian border this month raised the hopes of local business owners, who thought it would boost the economy in southern Thailand’s border region. However, things seem to be moving more slowly than expected, with merchants blaming the “entry fees” as being too expensive for most Malaysian travellers, so few are crossing over.

The Thai-Malaysian border at Sadao Border Checkpoint in the southern province of Songkla reopened on April 1. Vaccinated travellers can now enter by land via the checkpoint under the Test & Go programme. But anyone entering the kingdom via land or air must still apply for Thailand Pass, purchase health insurance and take a PCR test upon arrival, as well as book one night at a SHA hotel approved. Locals say the costs involved are simply too high.

On Saturday, the owner of a souvenir shop in Songkhla told Thai media she had seen only two Malaysian customers since the border reopened on April 1. She supposed it was a result of the expensive “entry fees”, i.e. the total costs of applying for entry through the Thailand Pass system, which has deterred Malaysian travellers from crossing over into Thailand. She informed Thai media that she wanted the government to consider decreasing the required fees to just 1-2,000 baht, in order to attract more travellers from across the border.

She added that travellers for upcoming Ramadan from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines entering the Sadao Border Checkpoint were at the heart of business in the province. If the entry fees are too high, then locals can’t earn a living, the shop owner said.

After the interview of the shop owner was posted online, Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn visited the Sadao Border Checkpoint to review the current entry measures. He noted that Thailand has not yet begun collecting the actual entry fee from travellers, as the introduction of the fee was postponed from April to June.

Well, if traffic is this bad despite no fee imposed yet, imagine how it would be once the fees are actually collected.


 

Thailand’s drug busts have continued hauling in billions of baht for this fiscal year, while arrests of “drug suspects” — though still in the six-digits range — have reduced roughly 40 percent. That’s the gist of a report from the deputy national police chief, Roy Inkhapairoj, who presented the figures at a press briefing on Sunday, after reviewing the nation’s drug-suppression activities from October last year to March 31.

In the past six months, police have arrested more than 120,000 drug suspects, seized more than 2.4 billion baht in assets and confiscated more than 260 pills of illegal substances like Amphetamine, aka “speed”. Besides speed, the most common drug was marijuana, with some 53,000 kilograms confiscated. Next was crystal meth, with more than 7,500 pills found, followed by heroin and ketamine.

As for the 2.4 billion baht worth of assets that were confiscated, they include cars worth nearly 820 million baht, followed by real estate worth about 700 million baht and motorcycles worth another 120 million baht. Police also confiscated various unnamed belongings from the suspects.

According to a May 2021 report by Bangkok Post, nearly 200,000 drug suspects were arrested during a similar period last year. Police also confiscated more than 300 million speed pills and 2,800 kilograms of heroin, seizing assets worth more than 2 billion baht.

And that’s all for our report. Thailand News Today will be back on Monday. Meanwhile, you’re now up to date on the Thaiger.

 

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