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And the next Thailand election date is… ?

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And the next Thailand election date is… ? | The Thaiger
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Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan on Tuesday refused to confirm the election date despite the fact that Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has informed US President Donald Trump that it will take place next year.
Prawit, who chaired the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said the election date depended on the completion of the four organic laws necessary for it to be held.
Two of these laws have been promulgated – the Election Commission and the political parties laws – while the other two, concerning senators and the election of MPs, are still going through the drafting and deliberation process.
Once this is completed, there would be another 150 days for preparation by the Election Commission before the election could take place, Prawit said.
Prawit said he had no idea about reports that Prayut had confirmed the election date with President Trump.
Asked whether the election would take place immediately after the designated 150 election-preparation days, Prawit just said it would follow the road map, which meant is would happen after the completion of the organic laws, after which political parties would be allowed to conduct political activities.

STORY: The Nation

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Protests

Bangkok hostels offer a free bed to struggling protesters

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Bangkok hostels offer a free bed to struggling protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A protester is happy to have a clean and safe place to rest between rallies - usnews.com

Some Bangkok hostels are opening their doors, and offering beds and accommodation to demonstrators, providing them free refuge, or at very low prices. Young protesters have travelled to Bangkok to be a part of the growing protest movement that is putting pressure on the PM and government to listen to, and accede, to their demands.

More information about their demands and the protest movement HERE.

The protesters have defied crackdowns and even a formal State of Emergency, declared to allow arrests and police intervention, to call for on Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign. The protest movement is also demanding reforms to the role of the Thai monarch, and want the revised role to be codified in a new constitution.

Some of the protesters, with no other options, have been sleeping in the city’s parks or simply sleeping on the street, determined to stay in the capital and continue the demonstrations with their peers. Many others are being accommodated by friends and families. Now some of the city’s empty hostels are offering to take them in to rest in between what has become almost daily protests (over the last 9 days).

One hostel owner said that they had almost no visitors staying with them over the last month and felt it was “their duty” to take in the young Thais and provide a clean, safe place for them to stay. Whilst asking not to be identified, he said that they have plenty of spare beds at the moment.

“This isn’t a political thing for us. We are all Thais and should help each other. These young people needed refuge and we are glad to help them”.

Now there’s a Twitter account, Mobmeeteenon (Translated: protesters have places to sleep), that links protesters to available rooms after the protest schedule ramped up in recent weeks and, for now, looks to continue, despite the Government calling an emergency session of Parliament next Monday and Tuesday.

The Twitter account is now offering more rooms than the number of protesters looking for refuge as Bangkok hospitality owners make space available.

Some protesters, speaking on the condition of anonymity, are saying that they’ve been living in the same place for more than a week now and call their temporary accommodation “home” whilst visiting Bangkok to take part in the protests.

Despite being “well funded” now, the protest movement doesn’t provide any money for the protesters. The protest movement is receiving donations from other Thai people and from overseas. Just last week some 4 million baht flooded in from K-Pop enthusiasts, and more is expected as their ‘idols’ are speaking out in support of the current Thai protest movement.

“We’ve had a dribble of real travellers over the past 3 months so it’s nice to see our beds being used again. They are all helping each other and want to see this through to the end.”

Some 500 people have been hosted in Bangkok hostels since the effort to provide rooms started.

On Wednesday night the Thai PM addressed the nation on TV and promised to revoke the State of Emergency in return for the protesters “standing down”. His conciliatory tone was matched by an official rescinding of the emergency decree yesterday morning.

Protesters, for their part, have called off further protest action until Sunday night. They say they expect the resignation of the PM “by Sunday night” or they will continue their protests again. The Thai Parliament has been called for an emergency session to discuss the protester demands and the current impasse next Monday and Tuesday.

SOURCE: Reuters | bookings.com

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Tourism

Chinese travellers CAN depart China and travel to Thailand on the STV

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Chinese travellers CAN depart China and travel to Thailand on the STV | The Thaiger
PHOTO: First tourists arrive under the STV at Suvarnabhumi - TAT

Another day and another day of confusing news and discussion about the Special Tourist Visa and, specifically, the Chinese arrivals. BKK Post posted this yesterday, without clarification.

Chinese travellers CAN depart China and travel to Thailand on the STV | News by The Thaiger

The headline said…

“China says will maintain ban on outbound tours due to virus risk”

The story, whilst not incorrect, confused a lot of readers who thought that meant ALL Chinese travellers and then deduced that the stories about Chinese arrivals on the STV in Bangkok this week must have been ‘bogus’.

The report that outbound Chinese group tours will remain banned by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, due to “concerns around the Covid-19 Coronavirus worldwide”, is true.

But the Chinese have NOT been given special concessions. They are NOT the only people allowed to apply for Thailand’s STV. They are NOT all businessmen coming up to “google up” bargain businesses in Thailand. The arrival of the first Chinese travellers had NOTHING to do with the lifting of the State of Emergency in Bangkok (there was any array of other comments and conspiracy theories offered following the BKK Post article).

To clarify, only Chinese operated and owned tour companies remain banned from organising tour group travel. Individual travellers, tourists or privately organised “groups” by citizens or companies and organisations from other countries are allowed to depart China under the current arrangements.

There is no blanket ban on departure for Chinese citizens, although there are restrictions. During 2019, most Chinese arrivals were FIT (free and independent travellers), not on tour groups. 27% of all international arrivals in 2019 were from China.

Thai officials maintain that the Chinese travellers and tourists are being tested, quarantined and tracked (via and app) whilst they are in Thailand and that they are being given no special dispensations. Most have organised their own bookings, including ASQ (quarantine) and then around the country. Some have booked onward travel to Phuket and Chiang Mai following their 14 day quarantine in Bangkok.

The first 39 travellers arrived this week from Shanghai, mostly Chinese nationals and some returning Thais. They are the first ‘tourists’ to arrive in Thailand since the borders were closed in March.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22

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Thailand News Today | State of Emergency lifted, Quarantine latest, Phuket Light Rail | October 22 | The Thaiger

Today’s latest news and information about Thailand. Like and subscribe to our YouTube channel too. Go on, right now 🙂 You can also LIKE our Facebook page https://facebook.com/thethaigernews to get even more information about Thailand.

Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency

Bangkok’s State of Emergency has been lifted, according to a statement published in the Royal Gazette, making it official.

The order, that banned public gatherings over 5 people, and censoring critical media commentary, was imposed last Thursday morning by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, leading to the breaking up a protest and the arrests of a number of activists.

Despite the State of Emergency, protesters ignored the orders and rallies only grew over the past week.

The emergency order also banned content on websites and social media considered to be a “threat to national security.” Some Thai media outlets covering the protests were under fire, and authorities tried to suspend them under the emergency order. The court dismissed the requests to block those media companies, saying the Thai Constitution does not give the court power to shut down media platforms.

Large protest group amassed at Government House

The lifting of the State Emergency follows two key events last night.

A large, prepared protest group that marched on Government House demanding the resignation of the Thai PM – they even prepared a letter for him all ready to sign. Police had 2 buses, barbed wire and water cannon trucks, along with riot police, awaiting them. Both sides seemed poised for a confrontation but protests leaders peacefully dispersed the crowd at 9.35pm. The other was an address on national TV by Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking protesters to stand down and participate in dialogue with the government.

Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa

Surely, the most anticipated and followed tourists ever to grace Thailand’s shores. All 39 visitors who flew in from China this week on the new Special Tourist Visa have tested negative for Covid-19. While it’s a small group, they’re the first foreign tourists to arrive since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

More international tourists are expected to arrive next week under the auspices of the new Special Tourist Visa. If there are no positive Covid-19 cases in the first groups, the government says they could start to lift restrictions, like cutting down the mandatory quarantine period, or allowing more applicants under the STV.

Groups from China and Scandanavian countries are the next arrivals under the STV in the next few weeks.

Health Minister says quarantine could be reduced to 10 days, maybe eventually zero

Health officials have confirmed that they are ready to reduce the mandatory quarantine period for foreign tourists, provided other relevant bodies agree.

The current quarantine period is set at 14 days, but the Public Health Minister says this could be reduced to 10. He adds that if the reduction is successful, quarantine could be further reduced, eventually reaching a point where quarantine is no longer a requirement.

“The truth is, the Public Health Ministry is ready for the change, but other relevant agencies still have requested time to adjust. So, we have to wait and work together.”

4.4 million methamphetamine pills seized near Laos border

Police seized 4.4 million methamphetamine pills worth more than 400 million baht after a police chase in the northeast near the Thai-Laos border.

Thai media reports that the alleged drug traffickers threw black bags full of the drugs out onto the road during the police chase and drove off into a rubber farm in the Bung Kla district.

Police had received a tip about drugs allegedly being trafficked across the Mekong River and were tracking a truck driving fast by the river.

Police searched the bags which contained over 4 million methamphetamine pills. Police also found 2,970 ecstasy pills.

Since October 1, the Royal Thai Navy has been involved in 18 drug trafficking busts, seizing methamphetamine, ecstasy, heroin and marijuana, totalling around 2.7 billion baht.

Phuket light rail study goes to Cabinet for approval

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand has approved the findings of a study on Phase 1 development of a light rail system in Phuket.

The first phase, budgeted at 35 billion baht, will run 42 kilometres from Phuket Airport to Chalong intersection.

The findings of the study will be tabled in the Cabinet in 12 months time. If approved, bidding for joint investment will begin in early 2022, with trams expected to start running in 2026.

The service will have 21 stations, of which 19 will be at ground level, one at elevated level and one underground.

Critics say the route won’t do much to benefit local communities and that the main Thepkasattri Road artery will be severely disrupted during the years of construction.

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