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US brands Yingluck impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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US brands Yingluck impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

US: Impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The United States yesterday branded the former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s impeachment as being “politically driven” and called on the junta to lift martial law as well as push for “inclusive” reform toward democracy.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel made the comment during an address at Chulalongkorn University yesterday after meeting with Yingluck, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn to exchange views on Thailand’s political situation.

“The perception of fairness is important,” he said. “I’ll be blunt here: When an elected leader is

imageDaniel Russel, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

deposed, impeached by the authorities that implemented the coup, and then targeted with criminal charges while basic democratic processes and institutions are interrupted, the international community is left with the impression that these steps could be politically driven”.

The junta-installed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted overwhelmingly to impeach Ms Yingluck and the anti-graft body pressed criminal charges on her for negligence of corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.

Former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who was with Ms Yingluck in the meeting with Mr Russel, said “we told the US official that Ms Yingluck’s political fate will not be different from that of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra”.

Self-exiled Thaksin was toppled by a coup in 2006 and fled from prosecution over corruption charges.

Mr Russel is the highest-ranking US official to visit Thailand after the May 22 military coup that brought down the Yingluck government. The Thailand stopover is part of his Southeast Asia trip, which includes the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Mr Russel also called on the junta to lift martial law, which has been in place since the coup.

“Ending martial law throughout the country and removing restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly are important steps as part of a genuinely inclusive reform process that reflects the broad diversity of views within the country,” he said.

“We are particularly concerned that the political process does not represent all elements of Thai society,” he said. “We are not dictating the political path that Thailand should follow to get back to democracy, or taking sides in Thai politics. But an inclusive process promotes political reconciliation, which in turn, is key to long-term stability.

“The alternative – a narrow process – risks leaving many Thai people feeling excluded from the political system.”

The same message was also conveyed to the government during his meeting yesterday with Thai Foreign Minister Tanasak.

“The two held constructive discussions and reaffirmed continuity in relations in all dimensions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee told reporters.

Mr Tanasak briefed Russel on the latest political developments here and stressed the government’s full commitment to proceed with the road map for reform.

The minister also updated Mr Russel on the progress of measures to suppress human trafficking after the US downgraded Thailand to Tier 3 last year.

The government will submit its report on the human trafficking situation to Washington by the end of this month, Mr Sek said.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha explained that Mr Russel did not pay him a courtesy call because he did not approve of how he came to power.

“But we have to separate trade and martial law, as well as economic matters and disagreement [over political issues],” the PM said. “Some countries might disagree with this government, but we still trade with them.”

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Mr Russel, former prime minister Abhisit talked about a referendum on the new charter. From the Democrat Party’s point of view, the junta-sponsored charter would be widely accepted by the people if it goes through the referendum, said deputy party leader Kiat Sittheeamorn, who was also at the meeting.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government expects to open vaccine registration to foreigners by August

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

A Health Ministry spokesperson has confirmed that foreigners living in Thailand should be able to register for Covid-19 vaccination by August. Ratchada Thanadirek says the government is working on a dedicated registration platform for foreign nationals living in the Kingdom, which it’s hoped will be ready in 3 months’ time.

Meanwhile, Thai Visa News reports that vaccine registration for Thais has been extended to those aged between 18 and 59 years old, who can now sign up from May 31. Registration had initially been limited to Thai nationals over the age of 60, as well as those with underlying health conditions. However, the third wave of the virus means registration for younger Thais has been brought forward from July.

Thai nationals can register for vaccination through the Mor Prom platform or the Mor Prom Line account. They can also register at government hospitals. According to Ratchada, the vaccines that will be used in the government rollout will primarily be AstraZeneca, manufactured in-country by Siam Bioscience.

However, she points out that there are 3 other vaccines that have been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration. They are the Chinese-made Sinovac, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the vaccine from US manufacturer, Moderna. The latter is expected to be available for purchase at private hospitals, although there has been no confirmation of when supplies might arrive.

SOURCE: Thai Visa News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Some Covid-19 restrictions relaxed across Thailand, fewer “dark red” provinces

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/PR Thai Government

The Thai government has relaxed some Covid-19 restrictions across the country, while downgrading the risk level of a number of provinces. The number of provinces designated as “strictly controlled” areas, or “dark red” zones, has been reduced from 6 to 4. They are Bangkok and the central provinces of Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

So, what, if anything, has changed where you are? Below is a summary of the situation across the country, courtesy of TAT News.

The “red zone” or “maximum control” areas now consist of the following 17 provinces:

Central Thailand: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi, and Samut Sakhon

Eastern Thailand: Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong

Northern Thailand: Tak

Southern Thailand: Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Ranong, Songkhla, Surat Thani, and Yala.

There are now 56 provinces designated as “orange” or “controlled areas”, up from 26. They are as follows:

Central Thailand: Ang Thong, Chai Nat, Lop Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Sing Buri, and Suphan Buri

Eastern Thailand: Chanthaburi, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo, and Trat

Northern Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Nakhon Sawan, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Uthai Thani, and Uttaradit

North-Eastern Thailand: Amnat Charoen, Bueng Kan, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Yasothon

Southern Thailand: Chumphon, Krabi, Pattani, Phang Nga, Phatthalung, Phuket, Satun, and Trang.

Restaurants across the country can now resume in-house dining, with various restrictions based on their risk status. In the dark red zones, dining in is permitted until 9pm, with take away service allowed until 11pm. In red zones, dining in has been extended to 11pm. In orange zones, dining-in hours can return to normal. Of note, however, is that the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in restaurants remains in force across the country.

All other disease prevention measures remain in place, including mandatory mask-wearing outside of the home and the closure of “high risk” venues such as nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, and massage parlours. Department stores, shopping malls and community malls must close by 9pm and refrain from holding promotional activities.

In dark red zones, there is a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, with this number extended to 50 people in red and orange zones. In Phuket, an orange zone, officials have stipulated a ban on people visiting each other’s homes, with only those residing at a property permitted to be there.

In dark red and red provinces, convenience stores and markets can only open between 4am and 11pm, while they can return to normal operating hours in orange zones. In addition, people in dark red zones are urged to cancel interprovincial travel or to submit to strict health screening. Businesses in the private sector are asked to allow employees work from home if possible.

SOURCE: TAT News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths

Tim Newton

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Today the public health department has reported 3,394 new cases and 29 new Covid-related deaths. 1,498 of today’s cases come from Thailand’s prisons (more below). Taking the shameful inmate toll out of the equation and the trend is still steady with around 2,000 – 2,500 new cases each day over the past 3 weeks across Thailand.

Around the world the trends for new infections and deaths are starting to fall quite quickly.

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths | News by Thaiger

• Roll up, roll up your sleeves. But the Thai PM says… hold on! PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has poured cold water on walk-in vaccination centres for Covid vaccinations. In the past week the public health department has been rushing to set up private vaccination locations around the country to hasten the roll out of vaccines for the first public vaccine category next month.

PM Prayut told a cabinet meeting yesterday he didn’t prefer the idea of the walk-in centres (Central Lad Phrao was already to open as yesterday) because “people would turn up in droves causing chaos”. He was particularly worried about centre around Bangkok where there is a population of 8 million+

The PM has asked that the Mor Prom app is working properly with registrations preferred so the Government can monitor the demand and act accordingly. The government says they’re working on an English, and other languages, version of Mor Prom to open registration for non-Thais soon.

• The Department of Corrections reports that there are now 11,670 prisoners infected with Covid in 13 prisons across Thailand.

• A major Japanese medical association is calling on Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Games are set to start on July 23.

The appeal, made in a letter to Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and comes amid concerns that the health-care system in Asia’s second-largest economy cannot accommodate both the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media while fighting yet another spike in coronavirus infections.

• The Chon Buri (including Pattaya) public health officials announced 39 new and confirmed cases of Covid and 1 more death today. According to The Pattaya News, “officials are asking for the public to remain working from home if possible and especially to avoid small social gatherings with people who are not members of your own household until the situation improves”.

As usual we will have an update of all the provincial totals this afternoon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | FRB

 

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