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“Tiger Temple’ faces possible closure, more criminal investigation

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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KANCHANABURI: The ‘Tiger Temple’ could be permanently closed if its land use permit from the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) is revoked, the National Office of Buddhism disclosed yesterday.

With the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (DNP) relocating all tigers from Wat Pa Luangta Bua, better known as the ‘Tiger Temple’, and finding evidence of illegal trading in wildlife last week, the Kanchanaburi temple has been in the public spotlight.

The temple now faces allegations that it unlawfully bred tigers (story here) and encroached on public land.

The ALRO is investigating land use issues related to the 391 rai (62.6 hectares) that the temple acquired from the ALRO to build the monastery, which was designated exclusively for religious purposes.

Pradab Phothikanchanawat, director of the National Office of Buddhism’s Kanchanaburi office, said there would be no choice but to comply if the ALRO finds that the temple misused the land.

“There will have to be a discussion between the ALRO and the National Office of Buddhism to find the best solution for questions about the temple’s use of land. If the final decision by the ALRO is to revoke the temple’s land deed, it will have to close,” Mr Pradab said.

According to an earlier report, the ALRO was investigating the temple to determine if the land was being used exclusively for religious purposes. If the organization determines the temple misused the land, it will file a complaint with the National Office of Buddhism.

The temple would then be allowed a chance to improve its land use practices, the report said, but its licence would be revoked if it failed to so.

The ALRO is also cooperating with the Royal Forestry Department and Lands Department to determine whether the temple has illegally expanded beyond the 391-rai plot, but that allegation could take months to verify.

Mr Pradab said the National Office of Buddhism had yet to receive a letter from the ALRO.

In regard to the allegation of illegal trade in wildlife, DNP deputy director-general Adisorn Noochdumrong met yesterday with deputy national police commissioner Pol General Chalermkiat Srivorakan to exchange information.

Mr Adisorn said he believed the discovery of the remains of many tiger cubs was connected with three tigers that went missing from the temple last year, adding that the suspects might be the same in both cases.

He said the department found evidence that temple abbot Luang Ta Chan had signed an agreement with Laos to exchange tigers.

He added that if DNA test results from the tiger cub remains do not match the DNA of the seized tigers, there would be solid proof that the temple had been involved in illegal trade in wildlife.

He also asked Col Chalermkiat to transfer the case from local police to a central investigative agency to ensure a quick and transparent probe.

Col Chalermkiat said police would consider the DNP’s information carefully and investigate to find leaders of the alleged wildlife trading. Police would bring justice to both sides, he said.

Saiyut Pengbunchu, a lawyer for the Wat Pa Luangta Bua Foundation, said the abbot, Phra Vissuthisaradhera (Luang Ta Chan), who went missing on May 29 and may face legal action, would return to the temple to explain issues to the media on Thursday.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Did the Covid-19 virus actually originate in Thailand? | VIDEO

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Did the Covid-19 virus actually originate in Thailand? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

South East Asia was the source of Covid-19, not China. Even more specifically, it came from Thailand… from the famous Chatuchak market, or, as quoted correctly “a market LIKE Chatuchak”.

That’s the claims of a Danish epidemiologist Thea Kolsen Fischer, who was on a recent World Health Organisation fact-finding mission to Wuhan to examine the origins of the latest coronavirus pandemic. The claims were printed in Denmark’s daily newspaper Politiken this week and have half left Thai officials flabbergasted.

The paper poses the question… was Chatuchak Market, or a similar were market in Bangkok like Chatuchak, indeed “the place that brought the coronavirus to Wuhan”.

Chatuchak market, for those unfamiliar with the tourist trap north of the main Bangkok city centre, is a market for just about everything. It’s also locally known as JJs. You can find cheap knock offs, souvenirs, hardware supplies, decor and lots and lots of animals, dead and alive.

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control held a media conference yesterday to refute the claims, claiming that it regularly tests animals at the market. The spokesperson also responded to an earlier news article by Russia’s Sputnik news agency suggesting that a similar strain of the novel coronavirus found in bats in Thailand appeared to resemble Sars-CoV-2… Covid-19.

Citing a new study published in Nature Communications, the Sputnik news agency claimed there are bats in Thailand with a virus, a coronavirus, that matches the one that causes Covid-19. Given the much-less-easy to remember code name RacCS203, the new virus was identified in the blood of five horseshoe bats that had been tested in an artificial cave at a wildlife sanctuary somewhere in eastern Thailand.

Researchers at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University have also conducted genomic sequencing on the virus and reportedly found that the virus shares 91.5% of the genetic code of Sars-CoV-2.

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Koh Samui

Koh Samui to start Covid-19 vaccinations early next month

Caitlin Ashworth

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Koh Samui to start Covid-19 vaccinations early next month | The Thaiger
Stock photo by Alexandr Podvalny for Pexels

Covid-19 vaccinations on Koh Samui will start early next month with 2,500 doses planned to be given to 1,250 people on the island, according to Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto. Island authorities are also proposing that foreign visitors be allowed to quarantine on their yacht, at a villa hotel or at a wellness centre.

The tourist island off the coast of Surat Thani in the Gulf of Thailand is deemed as an area of “economic significance” and is included in the first phase of the country’s immunisation plan. The first doses will be given to disease control officials and those in the tourism sector.

The vaccines, which just arrived from overseas yesterday, are expected to be delivered to the island before the end of the month and vaccinations are set to start in early March.

Half of the vaccines are reserved for those in the healthcare field as well as local government officials. Around 26% of the doses would be given to local health volunteers and the general public. 22% of the doses would be given to workers in the tourism industry, including airport employees and hotel quarantine employees. 2% of the doses will go to Covid-19 inspectors.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Pattaya

Another Thai man claims to have found a rare Melo pearl, shell was sold at a Pattaya market

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another Thai man claims to have found a rare Melo pearl, shell was sold at a Pattaya market | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

Another Thai man is claiming to have found a rare Melo pearl. The Pattaya chef says he bought a shell from a local market a decade ago and had no idea the object inside was a rare pearl. After hearing the news about the man in Nakhon Si Thammarat finding what he believes is a Melo pearl possibly worth millions of baht, 57 year old Patipat Hatthadon took the pearl off his shelf and brought it to the Gem and Jewelry Institution of Thailand where it was declared a real Melo pearl weighing 90.10 carats.

The chef bought the shell at the Larn Poe Market in Naklua 10 years ago. He found the pearl inside, but didn’t realise what it was. At first he thought the orange pearl was just a weight, like a lead ball some market vendor put inside to make the shells heavier and up the price.

“I tried to use a knife to pierce the pearl and determine what it was but it didn’t work and I had left it on a religious shelf for the past decade, unaware of what I potentially had.”

Patipat obtained a certificate from the institution. He’s keeping the pearl at a bank and he’s filed a report with Banglamung Police for legal protection due to the value of the pearl. It might be worth millions of baht. He says he’s already been contacted by numerous collectors from across the world. He’s currently considering the offers, he says.

Earlier this month, a Thai fisherman found what he believes to be a Melo pearl possibly worth 10 million baht. He found the pearl in a shell on a Nakhon Si Thammarat beach in Southern Thailand. The news coverage, both nationally and internationally, caught police attention who say the man is a suspect in a drug case. He was arrested 2 weeks ago at his home by the beach.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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