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Thaksin to get Thai passport as ‘New Year’s gift’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Thailand to ‘soon’ issue passport for fugitive former premier Thaksin
Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thailand will issue a passport for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra “very soon”, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday.

Phuket Gazette partner newspaper The Nation quotes Surapong as saying that the passport will be issued as a “New Year’s gift”.

Thaksin’s Thai passport was revoked after he fled the country to avoid jail following the military coup that ousted him in 2006.

“When Thaksin’s passport was cancelled, there was no order from the courts or the police to seize it,” Surapong said. “So I will use my authority to do whatever is not illegal under the regulations of the ministry to give the passport to ex-premier Thaksin.”

The minister went on to note that he deemed it appropriate to issue Thaksin a passport despite his fugitive status because other fugitives, like veteran politicians Somchai Kunplome and Vatana Assavahame, still had their passports.

Thaksin’s sister, current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, insists that she had nothing to do with the move to reissue a Thai passport for her brother.

“I have never interfered in this case; I’ve left it to the relevant officials,” she is quoted as saying. “It is a matter to be decided by the Foreign Ministry, but must be decided in line with the law, and the principles of justice and equality”.

Thaksin’s legal adviser Noppadon Pattama said the former premier had no knowledge about this plan and that he was still using the passport issued to him by Montenegro. Thaksin was stripped of his Thai passport by the previous government but received citizenship from Montenegro last year, allowing him to travel internationally.

The return of Thaksin will likely further anger large segments of the Thai population, already angry with his sister’s government’s suggestion of an amnesty for him. They argue that any person convicted of serious crimes should not be given a passport.

Phuket and its surrounding provinces in the south of Thailand have a long history of political conservatism and adherence to the opposition Democrat party, but there were no significant protests here during the ‘Red Shirt’ (pro-Thaksin) riots in Bangkok earlier this year.

Thaksin fled overseas before he was sentenced to two years in jail in 2008 for abusing his authority as prime minister by helping his then wife to buy prime state land at a discount.

There are still a number of other serious cases pending against him.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

In another drug bust in Northeastern province Nakhon Phanom, police arrested a man and seized 500 kilograms of compressed cannabis. Just yesterday, border patrol police in the province seized 920 kilograms of compressed cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. In both cases, police suspect the cannabis came from Laos, just across the river.

Police say they searched a black Nissan Navara pickup around 1am in the province’s Na Kae district. Police opened the truck’s bed cover and found 12 sacks with 500 packages of dried, compacted cannabis. Each package of cannabis weighed 1 kilogram, similar to the previous bust on the river.

28 year old Saravut Butngam was arrested. Saravut previously worked in construction, but has recently been unemployed. He allegedly told police that a man called him with an opportunity to make 50,000 baht. He was told to drive the pickup truck from a petrol station in the Na Kae district to a specified location in the neighbouring province Sakon Nakhon, police say. From there, another driver would take over.

Border police commander Sippanan Sornkhunkaew says he suspects the cannabis seized in the province was trafficked from Laos across the Mekong River. He says he believes the cannabis was planned to be trafficked to Southern Thailand and then smuggled across the border, possibly to Malaysia.

On Sunday morning, police confiscated 920 kilograms of cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. When police approached the boat, men jumped off onto a smaller boat and fled the scene. The dried, compacted cannabis was wrapped in 1 kilogram packages.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

How to Wai like a Thai, with Som | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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How to Wai like a Thai, with Som | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The wai, the polite gesture Thais use for greetings, farewells, prayers and even apologies, dates back to the 12th century, where both hands clasped together in front proved that you weren’t holding a weapon. That’s the folklore anyway.

Recently, the greeting has increased in general popularity around the world as a anti-Covid ‘safe’ replacement for the western handshake. So, how, when and with whom should you wai? Here’s a few easy tips to learn how to wai. Today Som teaches us some of the basics of the lovely Thai ‘wai’ (pronounced ‘why’).

As a foreigner you don’t look Thai, dress Thai and you probably can’t eat full-strength Thai curry either. So this means you’re exempt from Thailand’s most nuanced courtesies. There’s a lot of subtlety in the Thai wai so, chances are, you’re not going to get it right. But your best efforts will be appreciated.

How to wai when you’re uncertain? At a minimum, when someone wais to you, return the gesture with a kind smile and an acknowledging nod. In restaurants and shops: You’ll often receive a wai from shop and restaurant staff. It’s not necessary to wai in return to anyone providing you with a service of this nature. Instead, a nice (grateful) smile is plenty. To children / those younger than you:

Also, there’s no need to wai to a child or anyone who’s clearly younger than you – so, baby boomers, you’re increasingly in the clear! The wai is a mark of respect to elders.

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Bangkok

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1 | The Thaiger

Coming up today… the fallout from yesterday’s latest protest violence in Bangkok, the first vaccine in Thailand who got it, and a major drug haul along the Mekong.

But first we’ll start up north where Lampang Province is joining other northern provinces todday by putting a total fire ban in place from today, March 1, until the end of April. Chiang Mai also started a ban on all deliberately lit fires from today and Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, already has one in place.

The bans are timely after a horrid weekend of air pollution in many of Thailand’s provinces over the long weekend, even as far south as the tourist destination of Phuket where visibility was down to about 1 kilometre and the smell of smoke was noticeable.

Whilst up in the north… 4 Thai women were arrested at a security checkpoint in Tak’s Mae Sot district after they illegally crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Illegal casinos and fancy hi-so massage parlours in Myanmar in areas near the border, have attracted wealthy Thais and Burmese. The establishments have also attracted plenty of Thais looking for well-paid work across the border.

In a major bust along the Mekong River, a notorious hotzone for drug trafficking, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Now to the weekend violence as the protests resume where they left off last year…

At least 22 people were arrested during the major Bangkok protest yesterday. It turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the Thai PM’s residence. It’s been reported that one officer died during the rally, reportedly due to heart failure.

At least 33 people were injured… that includes 23 police officers. The clashes happened in front of 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and involved around 1,500-2,000 activists fromthe Restart Democracy movement, part of the Free Youth group. The group has been protesting against the government and calling for reform of the country’s constitution and monarchy since protests began in July of last year.

And Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who received the first of China’s Sinovac vaccine yesterday. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the PM’s injection was postponed.

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