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Websites with lese majeste content to be shut down

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Websites with lese majeste content to be shut down
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) intends to shut down all websites carrying lese majeste content by the year-end, according to its secretary-general Takorn Tantasith.

If websites violate Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the NBTC has the power to close them without seeking court approval, he said.

Takorn said yesterday the NBTC intended to close all offending websites by December 31. The police would also check IP addresses of those websites for further legal action, he added.

The watchdog held a meeting yesterday with Internet Service providers (ISP) under its licensing regime and the Royal Thai Police Special Branch. Representatives from ISPs and the relevant agencies discussed the moves to clamp down on such websites.

The NBTC instructed all the ISPs to shut down websites that contained content deemed in contempt of the monarchy and affecting the national security.

The NBTC invited Facebook to attend yesterday’s meeting but the leading social-media company did not send any representative. Takorn said that despite their absence, there would be no problem in coordinating with Facebook to discuss the issue. He added that operators of social networks in Thailand should be aware of the Thai law and regulations.

Meanwhile, two people accused of defaming the monarchy in a university play pleaded guilty yesterday amid an intensifying junta crackdown on perceived royal slurs under the lese majeste law, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Both defendants pleaded guilty to the charges,” said the judge at the Criminal Court, adding that sentence would be passed on February 23.

Student Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and activist Porntip Mankong, 25, were arrested in August, nearly a year after the “The Wolf Bride” play was shown at Thammasat University.

They were each charged with one count of lese majeste linked to the performance, which marked the 40th anniversary of a pro-democracy student protest that was brutally crushed by authorities in October 1973.

Both accused were brought into court barefoot – Patiwat’s feet bound with chains – at a hearing attended by a few dozen people, including their relatives, students and an observer from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Patiwat, a final-year student at Khon Kaen University, acted in the piece – which was about a fictional monarchy – while Porntip coordinated the production as well as playing a small role.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Maya Taylor

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Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. However, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily to combat any threat from Covid-19, particularly as neighbouring countries experience a spike in infections.

Thailand has already taken steps to seal the porous border with Myanmar after a surge in cases means that country is now recording over 500 new infections a day.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Quarantine could be reduced to 7 days from November, if border re-opening succeeds

Maya Taylor

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Quarantine could be reduced to 7 days from November, if border re-opening succeeds | The Thaiger
Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister says the mandatory quarantine period for those arriving from overseas could be reduced to 7 days if there is no spike in Covid-19 infections after the border re-opens to limited arrivals from October.

Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says more details on the planned Special Tourist Visa will be made available following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The STV is expected to grant entry to long-stay arrivals from October 1. Visitors can then extend their stay by 90 days twice, meaning a stay of nearly 9 months in total.

The government is currently being extremely cautious with its plans to re-open the borders to international arrivals. However, in a Bangkok Post report today, Phiphat says that if the first 2 groups of arrivals, 300 foreign tourists in total, fulfil the 14-day quarantine period without testing positive for the virus, it may be possible to increase the number of visitors granted entry to the Kingdom.

“Only 300 tourists per week will not be enough to fill up the whole supply chain and help operators. However, the figure has to comply with the capacity of the healthcare workforce from the Public Health Ministry to prepare swab tests.”

It’s understood the Tourism Ministry has been in talks with private hospitals about supplying additional manpower to facilitate the testing being carried out at airports. Another option is to test arrivals at quarantine facilities, in order to avoid holdups at airport arrival terminals. Currently, the Phuket Provincial Health Office has the ability to conduct 1,000 tests a day.

Should the gradual re-opening in October pass without a significant spike in Covid-19 cases, Phiphat says the government may consider halving the 14-day quarantine period from mid-November. Visitors will still be required to be tested prior to arrival, several times while in quarantine, and again before being released.

“In the event there are 5 positive cases from 300 tourists, the plan to welcome foreigners has to move forward anyway. But we will set up new alternative plans to cope with the situation.”

A reduction in the quarantine period may succeed in attracting more visitors, particularly given the high cost of staying at certain alternative state quarantine facilities, which tourists must foot the bill for themselves. An increase in foreign arrivals is seen as essential to the recovery of the tourism sector in areas currently struggling to survive since the border shutdown 6 months ago.

The Tourism Council of Thailand has visited places such as Phuket, Chiang Mai, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Udon Thani, and Rayong, to talk to local business owners. In presenting its findings to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, TCT president, Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, says the government must find a solution to help the tourism sector. It predicts that once the global Covid situation is brought under control, foreign arrivals to Thailand should reach the 60 million mark and contribute 25% of the country’s GDP by 2023.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Some immigration offices set to open on Saturday, September 26, as visa amnesty looms

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Some immigration offices set to open on Saturday, September 26, as visa amnesty looms | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pattaya Immigration queues yesterday morning - Richard Barrow in Thailand

With September 26 just a day away, Thailand’s Immigration offices have never been busier. Many expats and visitors, who have been either stranded in Thailand, or decided to wait out Thailand’s outbreak of Covid-19, need to get their visas sorted out, officially, by September 26. Whilst many foreigners have left things to the last minute, here’s the latest in the situation.

Many Immigration offices will be open on Saturday as well, due to the enormous demand, mostly people wanting to get a 30 day extension to their visa. Some offices say they will open until 3pm, others 10pm… it is not a uniform time for the additional opening hours on Saturday. So check you local immigration. The Thai immigration office in Samut Prachan, for example, says they will open on Saturday between 9am – 3pm.

Many of the immigration offices stayed open late every day this week to work through the appointments that had been made. We should at least applaud the work ethic of the officials as they are doing their best to apply the Government’s immigration rules and are open extra hours to help foreigners. Be assured the officials are probably as stressed as you. Smile and say ‘thanks’ when you get you stamp!

Also, because the amnesty finishes on a Saturday, you will legally be able to go in on Monday as well to sort out your lapsed visa, or roll over onto a 30 day extension, if you are eligible.

In most cases, it needs to be stressed, you will need to make an appointment before going to immigration. Don’t just arrive there with a handful of documents and your passport and hope for the best. The link to the Thai Immigration website is HERE. It is not particularly easy to navigate so be patient.

If you don’t have a visa extension or a new visa by the end of Monday, or a visa pending, by the close of business on September 28, you will living in Thailand illegally and will face hefty fines, arrest and possible deportation.

The social media on the matter has been just as busy, with people sharing their views on the amnesty and the Thai government’s reluctance to further assist the foreigners that have remained in the country since the borders were closed in April. Different Immigration offices, different stories. (We’ve fixed up some of the grammar and spelling)

“This is absurd and insulting. People that are here, healthy and contributing to the economy, and they have no easy way to remain. All the while the government is trying to attract people to come here. Let those who are here stay and continue spending money.”

“Thai immigration did not create this problem. It was created by everyone who waited till the last week. Self fulfilling karma.”

“In Bangkok it takes the travellers who are stuck here about 2 hours to get there and people who do get there without appointment send home to make one and there are no new appointment up to the 26 any more so no choice for people to be illegal soon.”

“Not to state the obvious, but anything can change last minute here in Thailand. You never know…”

“Here in Chonburi immigration they only allocating 100 que numbers per day. About 500 waiting with no que number. Official look to close off processing before lunch time leaving the office closed for business. Amazing Thailand indeed.”

“It really doesn’t help that UK (embassy) in Thailand decided, with total disregard for the Thai immigration system and the British citizens it serves, to wait until the very last minute of the amnesty to grant TV extension letters. Flooding the system at a time when it is already significantly overstretched.”

“Many here in Phuket went before and were told to come back this week!”

“Not necessarily waiting till the last minute, but I think many have been trying to make arrangements via any number of visa schemes while at the same time, even before Covid, the various offices would need months to process. It could be muddled further when they announced the new tourist visa (STV) which many thought the logical move would be to allow the rollover to happen, and still could.”

What are your thoughts and experiences with the amnesty and your extension, or failure to secure an extension? Respond in the COMMENTS section below.

Some immigration offices set to open on Saturday, September 26, as visa amnesty looms | News by The Thaiger

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