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Will he or won’t he? Thai PM will announce his intentions soon.

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Will he or won’t he? Thai PM will announce his intentions soon. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

The election looms but, at this stage, there is no confirmed date and the elephant in the room – will General Prayut turn politician and run for a seat in the new Government – is yet to be addressed. Pressed yesterday he repeated his past ambiguous remarks.

The PM yesterday reiterated his promise to clarify his political future next month, saying that he first has to decide if he will stay in politics before he announces which party he will choose to join.

The junta leader said he would decide which political party he would join only after deciding whether to remain in politics.

“I told you I still don’t know if I should stay [in politics] or not. I have to see why I should stay,” Prayut said. “More importantly, if people do not vote for the party I join, how can I come [back to politics]?”

When pressed for an answer about his political future, the head of the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said: “You don’t have to ask me today. I will say it myself in September.”

He also said that political restrictions would be eased by that time.

When a reporter joked that she would ask him about his decision on the first day of September, he replied: “Whatever day in September. Let’s focus on tackling the country’s problems now.”

During his trip to the UK in June Prayut said that he would disclose his decision about his political future in September.

Amid political issues, the NCPO plans to “do political unlocking” by authorising the Election Commission (EC) to start preparing for the next election and keep up with a poll timeline that has been repeatedly delayed.

Prayut said that while the NCPO meeting yesterday did not touch on the election, more clarity should be seen once the MPs election bill and the Senate selection bill are published in the Royal Gazette.

“You will see more political clarity in September. There’s no need to ask me about it now,” he said.

Prayut said the legal process “should head to election” once the MP election bill draft, one of four organic laws that must be passed before holding an election, is published. The election bill, even if published, still needs to wait for another 90 days to come into effect as stipulated by the junta-appointed legislators.

Meanwhile, the junta leader was upset yesterday over a joke video clip that dubbed over his first single “Return Happiness to Thailand” as a song full of lies.

In the video clip, posted in June by a Facebook user, a boy asks his father: “Which song tells lies in every verse?”

After his father made a few unlucky guesses, the boy started singing the famous “Return Happiness to Thailand” written by Prayut more than four years ago after the 2014 coup. The lyric says: “We will keep our promise. Just give us a little bit more time.”

Government spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday that Prayut had expressed concern that some individuals with ill intentions had made such a video to attack the government by accusing it of failing to keep its promises.

“General Prayut assures he is not delaying the election. Everything follows the road map. We all know that soon the organic laws will be promulgated,” Sansern said.

The spokesman went on to say that the PM flagged the video clip for dragging a little kid into politics and making him a political tool.

“General Prayut said that this is not nice at all,” he said. “They are just kids. They deserve to be raised right and taught things good for them.

Here’s the original ‘Returning Happiness To Thailand’ clip, written by the PM

STORY: The Nation

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When can we travel again? World Covid Travel Update | VIDEO

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When can we travel again? World Covid Travel Update | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Today we’ll look at the larger world travel picture in this Covid era, and then we’ll check the latest opportunities if you want to come back to Thailand for travel.

So when can we pack the bags and travel again? Well, in theory, right now. But in practice, depending where you’re coming from and where you want to go, that may still be very complicated… and remain so for at least the rest of this year. But some of the world’s travel so-called experts are now speaking in terms of months and not years. Whilst some of that might be optimistic travel industry spin, there may be some greater certainty on re-openings of some sectors of the world travel industry in the next few months.

But first, consider all the variables that need to fall into place for things to go smoothly..

Despite the roll out of various vaccines, and more on the way, some countries are more advanced in that process than others. The appearance of virus mutations could send all the best guesses for an improvement in travel opportunities into disarray. Whilst it seems the vaccines will be a great benefit for victims to avoid the worst ravages of Covid-19, there is still a long way to go to measure the longer term effects on the changes in transmission and community immunity.

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Thailand tourism sector seeks to reopen the country by July

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Thailand tourism sector seeks to reopen the country by July | The Thaiger
Stock photo by Alexandr Podvalny for Pexels

The following was submitted by Open Thailand Safely, a campaign pushing the Thai government to reopen Thailand to international tourism by July 2021.

Leading international tourism companies in Thailand have launched a campaign to reopen the country’s borders from 1 July 2021.

The #OpenThailandSafely campaign was launched 2 March with the support of over 15 major companies including YAANA Ventures, Minor Group, Asian Trails, Capella Hotels and Resorts, EXO and many others. (The full launch list is here)

The Open Thailand Safely campaign has laid out its arguments in a petition which will underpin a formal request to the Royal Thai Government to respond favourably to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccination programmes underway in Europe, USA and other Thailand tourism source markets.

The petition is open to anyone in Thailand or around the world who would like to see the country reopen.

The campaign argues that 1 July is an appropriate date for five reasons: the majority of citizens in many source markets will have been vaccinated by then; it gives time to Thai medical authorities to vaccinate both front line staff in hospitality settings in Thailand and/or vulnerable citizens around the country; it gives international travellers time to make travel plans and bookings; the date gives time to airlines, hotels, tour operators and others to start marketing and sales and get ready for tourism operations to commence; and it will take Thailand at least a year, and maybe longer, to return to the large numbers of international visitors that it had before the Covid-19 crisis.

To ensure the safe reopening of Thailand, the petition argues that “international tourists can be asked to satisfy any safeguards the Thai Government may require. This may, for example, include showing officially recognised proof of a Covid-19 vaccination from their home country, purchasing health insurance, showing proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure, and so on.”

#OpenThailandSafely was the initiative of leading Bangkok-based private sector travel companies YAANA Ventures, Minor Group and Asian Trails.

The CEO of YAANA Ventures, Willem Niemeijer [pictured right], said: “The 1 July reopening would be a strategic opportunity for Thailand to show a leadership role among Asian countries and prepare the way for a solid recovery of the Thai economy in 2022.”

In the coming days, the Open Thailand Safely campaign will also send the 1st July request to Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, and the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mr Yuthasak Supasorn.

According to the Bank of Thailand and official sources in Thailand, tourism, pre-Covid, was worth about 2.9 trillion baht (US$96.5 billion). Some 39.7 million international visitors in 2019 helped sustain up to 8.3 million jobs. However, arrivals fell to 6.7 million in 2020 making between two and four million people unemployed.

Meanwhile, destinations such as Seychelles, Maldives, Greece and Sri Lanka have either opened borders already or are in discussions to do so in light of successful Covid vaccine rollouts in their key source markets.

People can sign the petition for Thailand to reopen on 1 July at www.OpenThailandSafely.org.

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Thailand News Today | Dodgy vaccine doctor nabbed,Pattaya club raided for ‘explicit’ shows | March 3

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Thailand News Today | Dodgy vaccine doctor nabbed,Pattaya club raided for ‘explicit’ shows | March 3 | The Thaiger

The Bangkok Military Court has issued an arrest warrant for a Royal Thai Army medic who is accused of injecting troops with a fake Covid-19 vaccine. He reportedly made more than 100,000 baht by charging troops, who were on a UN mission, 500 baht each for a tetanus vaccine and a fake Covid-19 vaccine, which an internal army investigation determined was simple saline solution…. Harmless but not very effective.

The Thai Army held a press conference after the medic’s fake vaccine scam made headlines, saying the incident had tarnished the army’s image. The field medic, who was also a lieutenant, injected more than 250 Thai troops stationed in South Sudan on a UN peacekeeping mission with the fake vaccine, claiming it was the head doctor’s order. An Army spokesperson says the medic was in the Thai-South Sudan Horizontal Military Engineering Company and “is a serious disciplinary offence and also violates ethical standards as the wrongdoer is a doctor.”

The governor of the central province of Samut Sakhon is slowly recovering after more than 2 months battling Covid-19. Weerasak Wichitsangsri tested positive for the virus in late December and subsequently ended up on a ventilator for over 40 days. It’s understood Weerasak’s time on the ventilator was a record for the hospital and, at times, medics were unsure if he would recover.

Pattaya City Police inspected a nightclub after reports that the venue was hosting pornographic shows over the weekends. Although the nightclub, named as Dragon Man Club in Thai media, wasn’t presenting a sexually explicit show when officers dropped in, the owner was arrested for operating an entertainment business and selling alcohol without the proper permit.

The Thai government has approved a budget of over 6 billion baht to procure an additional 35 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The budget was approved at a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

The Covid-free gulf islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao are offering special discounts and privileges to tourists until the end of April. Over 80 tourism operators are taking part in the program.

In an act of good will, navy officials have rescued 4 cats from a ship that had caught fire and began to sink about 13 kilometres off Koh Adang in the southern province of Satun. The ship’s 8 member crew had jumped off the sinking vessel and were rescued by a passing fishing ship, but the cats were left onboard.

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