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A THAI LAMENTS: “Our darkest hour”

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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A THAI LAMENTS: “Our darkest hour” | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The saddest thing is everyone had predicted this and there were so many opportunities to prevent it. In the end, either the curse was too strong or the dark wills of some of those involved to see it happen simply overwhelmed efforts to stop it from happening.

A nation that once thought it had matured learned the hardest way that it hadn’t.

In terms of cruelty, October 6, 1976 was worse. And yesterday’s death toll was lower than most previous political turmoil. It’s the way a divided Thailand rolled relentlessly towards yesterday that exposed a national flaw bigger than the ones causing the previous tragedies.

Despite everything – modern education, better political knowledge and everyone’s claim to have “democracy” at heart – nothing could stop the bloodbath. And if rumours last night about a coup in the making come true, then the big wounds inflicted yesterday will only be aggravated.

It started off like a ceasefire day, with red-shirt protesters mulling a return to the Thaicom uplink station in Pathum Thani after PTV was taken off the air again on Friday night. Then skirmishes began near the Phan Fa Bridge between protesters and soldiers at the First Army Region headquarters, and soon after that tension escalated as troops formed lines to try to edge red shirts from the streets. Water cannon and tear gas were used, baton charges initiated, and finally rubber bullets fired.

The troops’ mission, as the government declared later in the afternoon, was to “reclaim” public spaces as authorised under the state of emergency. The red shirts put up tough resistance, resulting in new skirmishes, which grew more violent as the hours passed. But our worst tragedy in 18 years took place at the Khok Wua intersection.

The government said troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas, whereas demonstrators fought back with guns, grenades and petrol bombs.

Embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva last night vowed to carry on and insisted that people must not jump to conclusions regarding who was to blame for the casualties. He promised an independent investigation and pledged that he would never allow personal interests to get in the way of government attempts to resolve what has become our biggest and bloodiest crisis in modern times.

With everyone equipped with better tools to record the violence, evidence will pour in over the next few days. Yet finger-pointing has already begun.

The body of a red-shirted guard was carried onto the Phan Fa stage last night, as leaders of the movement tried to settle among themselves what should be their next move. Some wanted to “bring on the war”, but others solemnly admitted that the losses were enough.

Calls for both warring parties to “stop immediately” were coming from all directions. Abhisit, if he manages to survive what promises to be a staggering backlash in the next few days, will be first under pressure to reconsider the state of emergency.

The heavy weight of the losses will also be measured against the inconvenience, economic turmoil, and defiance of the red shirts. Previous government tolerance, displayed to the point that Abhisit was ridiculed for being weak, may not help his case much after all.

The uncertainties, however, are outweighed by the sad truth that the division that culminated in last night’s bloodbath will only deepen. A TV program last night that was supposed to find a way for Thailand to dig itself out of the current tragic impasse erupted into a blame game, with one side calling on the premier to show responsibility and the other saying the prelude to the clash must also be taken into account.

Talks will be renewed and the force of peace may have its rare chance to prevail. But even optimists cannot believe that an actual healing process can really begin any time soon. The nation, however, has no choice but to try.

— The Nation

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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