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Ubon businessman kills himself after receiving NCPO summons

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Ubon businessman kills himself after receiving NCPO summons
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: An Ubon Ratchathani businessman took his life yesterday after being summoned by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), but the local police chief doubts if the suicide was linked to the order.

The chief of Muang district police, Colonel Jumphol Suwanam, said Sarawuth Phoothornyothin, 59, shot himself in his home possibly because he was stressed out by several chronic diseases he had been suffering for several years.

“[The suicide] has probably nothing to do with the NCPO order summoning him,” he said.

Sarawuth was among a large number of people included in the 44th NCPO order yesterday and told to report to the Army auditorium in Thewes, Bangkok, between 10am and 12pm today.

Wanphen, Sarawuth’s wife, told police that her husband was complaining about feeling unwell last night, adding that he suffered chronic diabetes, high-blood pressure and bone disease.

In response to the incident, an NCPO spokesperson said in a statement that summoned people were not regarded as law violators, and that the desired goal was to reach an understanding with those summoned or readjust their attitudes to find a common ground so that long-term reconciliation was achieved.

Sarawuth had reportedly earlier posted anti-coup messages in the Pantip.com web board but had not openly taken part in street protests.

He was a leading businessman in Ubon Ratchathani in rice milling and printing but those businesses folded in the past decade and he ended owning a small lathe factory.

Meanwhile, the Thai Journalists Association yesterday issued a statement calling on undercover police to deter anti-coup protesters from the wearing green armbands issued to reporters working in the field.

TJA spokesman Manop Thip-osoth said a new armband would be designed jointly by the TJA and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association to make it more difficult to imitate and distinguish reporters more clearly from other people including protesters.

Manop was referring to the much-discussed arrest of a woman at an anti-coup really in front of the Terminal 21 in Asoke on Sunday. She was seen being forced by several men into a taxi, fuelling speculation that she might have been arrested by soldiers in plainclothes.

Images of another incident show one man wearing a journalist’s armband emerging from the crowd and snatching a woman, thought to be a protester.

Lumpini Police Station chief Colonel Chaiya Kongsup said the woman was brought to the station to calm her down and was later taken away by Army officers.

Deputy national police chief General Somyot Pumpanmuang said no police officers were seen wearing a journalist’s armband in Sunday’s operation.

He said police were willing to clarify the situation if media associations submitted a formal written enquiry.

A police source said two men and four women were detained in separate arrests in connection with anti-coup protests on Sunday at Lumpini Police Station before being handed over to the police’s Crime Suppression Division. No details about the woman were given and it is not known where she is.

The six other people arrested have been identified as Warin Thinnakorn, 71, Nusara Suksawaengboon, 48, Sunantha Puangsiri, 50, Mongkol Saengsuda, 43, Jiraporn Warapisit, 53 and Sumet Wirotchaiyun, 40.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

International travel in 2021 is unpredictable – Tourism Authority of Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth

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International travel in 2021 is unpredictable – Tourism Authority of Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Aleksei Zaitcev

The future of Thailand’s travel industry is “opaque”, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

“There are unpredictable factors that come into play when trying to determine how 2021 will pan out, like the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, the number of coronavirus infections and travel restrictions. The tourism sector might not have what’s considered a normal revenue, at least 80% of the pre-pandemic level, until 2022.”

“We set 2021 as a year of adjustment before seeing a leap in 2022. We forecast Thailand will achieve 2.5 trillion baht in tourism revenue in 2022, or 80-90% of 2019, which recorded 3 trillion baht.”

In reality, any large tourism recovery to pre-Covid numbers could take a lot longer.

Yuthasak says he met with an official from the Chinese Embassy and says that large groups of Chinese tourists, who made up around 10 million, or 25%, of foreign arrivals in 2019, will probably not travel to Thailand until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. It’s unclear how long it will take to commercially produce a vaccine and distribute it across the world.

A rebound in international tourism is expected around the third quarter of 2021 or in 2022, according to the World Tourism Organisation, based on the current situation but, learning from this year’s events, recoveries in any industry are highly speculative.

For Thailand, Yuthasak says the country might see a moderate number of international guests around the second and third quarter of 2021 with more tourists visiting during the summer when the spread of the virus is considered to slow down due to the hot weather.

SOURCE:Bangkok Post

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Protests

Deputy PM refutes claim that using lèse majesté law damages Monarchy

Maya Taylor

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Deputy PM refutes claim that using lèse majesté law damages Monarchy | The Thaiger
PHOTO: VOA News

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam has dismissed claims that invoking Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law is damaging to the Monarchy. He insists the law has been in use for years and can be applied in the case of current protesters who violate it through their public speeches.

Wissanu was responding to a claim from renowned academic Sulak Sivaraksa, who has slammed the government for resorting to Section 112 of the Criminal Code. Section 112 forbids insulting, defaming, or threatening the Monarchy, and a violation carries a punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Earlier this week, police confirmed that 12 protesters have been summonsed to face lèse majesté charges, a move which some say is designed to leave protest movements leaderless. Sulak addressed a large rally in front of the Siam Commercial Bank’s headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday, to accuse the government of harming the Monarchy by its use of the law. He has pointed out that the late King Bhumibol described the law as an assault on him and that the current Monarch, His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn, has also asked for it not to be used.

Sulak says the government must stop invoking the law in order to allow for a peaceful debate to take place on the role of the Monarchy. The current anti-government protests, which have been running since mid-July, are calling for reforms that will make Thailand’s highest institution more accountable to the people. The demand is highly controversial, broaching as it does, a topic that has until now been completely taboo. Protesters are also calling for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and a re-write of the Constitution, followed by the dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government to sign vaccine contract with Oxford University, AstraZeneca, today

Maya Taylor

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Thai government to sign vaccine contract with Oxford University, AstraZeneca, today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.aseanthai.net

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has confirmed that Thailand will today sign a contract with Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, for the procurement of their Covid-19 vaccine. The PM says the agreement will mean Thais can access the vaccine once it goes into production. This contract is in addition to the agreement signed for the transfer of vaccine technology that will enable it to be manufactured here.

Earlier this week, the team behind the vaccine announced that it was between 70-90% effective, depending on the dosage. The discrepancy raised some questions, as it appeared the vaccine was more effective when administered first as a half-dose, followed by a full dose, rather than when 2 full doses were administered. The team now says it may carry out another global trial to determine why the lower dose appears more effective.

The PM points out that one significant advantage the vaccine has is that it can be stored at temperatures of 2 – 8 degrees Celsius, unlike those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at much lower freezer temperatures (around -70 degrees Celsius, in the case of the Pfizer jab). Such a requirement could create a logistical nightmare for some countries.

The PM says the vaccine is likely to be approved and go into production in Thailand by the middle of 2021, adding that the quicker it’s available, the quicker the tourism sector and the overall economy will recover.

According to a Thai PBS World report, the PM says many other countries have signed similar deals with pharmaceutical companies, in order to guarantee access to effective vaccines for their citizens. Meanwhile, he adds that, until the vaccine is available, people should continue with hygiene measures such as mask-wearing in public spaces, hand-washing and social distancing, in order to avoid the repeat waves of the virus that other countries are having to deal with.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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