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Burmese migrants ‘better off’, says employment chief

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Burmese migrants ‘better off’, says employment chief | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Nothing much will change for the 100,000 migrant Myanmar nationals currently living and working on the island, Phuket Employment Office director Pitoon Damsakorn told the Phuket Gazette, shortly after the visit to Thailand by the State Counselor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi
last week.

Ms Suu Kyi’s arrival in Thailand last week for a three-day visit to meet with ministers and firm-up bilateral ties between the neighboring nations, saw the signing of three memoranda of understanding and agreements exclusively to deal with better management, facilitation and capacity-building for Myanmar workers.

Unofficially, about 4-5 million migrant workers, plus displaced people, are living in Thailand. For the past two years, 1.5 million workers have been registered, allowing them to work and receive social benefits, including education and healthcare. More registrations are expected in the coming months.

However, for the thousands of Myanmar nationals working mainly in Phuket’s construction industry, little will change as they “already earn more than the minimum daily wage of 300 baht for Thai nationals,” said Mr Pitoon.

“The Myanmar nationals working in Phuket are much better off than their counterparts in Samut Sakhon, near Bangkok, for example, where many are employed in the fisheries industry, receiving low wages and often going without pay when bad weather prevents them from working,” he said.

“Construction work is plentiful all year round for migrant workers in Phuket. They don’t have any problems with money at all.”

However, Kriengkrai Arpabuthsayapan, head of the Phuket Provincial Office of Labor Protection and Welfare, said Phuket still faces major problems dealing with illegal migrant workers.

“The biggest problem we face in Phuket is tracking down migrant workers who continue to flout immigration laws,” said Mr Kriengkrai.

“Our greatest challenge is stemming the flow of Myanmar nationals involved in human trafficking, especially children,” he said, referring to Thailand’s Tier 3 status in the US annual report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) since 2015.

However, the United States on Wednesday announced that it had decided to remove Thailand from its list of worst human trafficking offenders.

The upgrade, confirmed by a US official in Washington and a Bangkok-based official from an international organization with direct knowledge of the rankings, would mark a rare boost for US-Thai relations. Ties between the countries have stagnated since the Thai military seized power in 2014, in a move strongly condemned by Washington.

The State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which was released last week, organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum US standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 ‘Watch List’ for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that are not making significant efforts.

The latest TIP report cites improvements in Thailand’s efforts to combat human trafficking, especially in its vital multi-billion-dollar seafood industry, the US official said.

The upgrade puts Thailand on the so-called ‘Tier 2 Watch List’.

Phuket’s reputation as a destination for human traffickers was put under the international spotlight in 2008, after 54 illegal migrant workers, including an eight-year-old girl, suffocated to death in a tiny seafood container truck.

The ‘Ranong human-smuggling incident’ occurred on the night of April 9, 2008, when 121 illegal migrants were transported by fishing boat from Song Island in Myanmar to a landing near Ranong, where they were loaded into the container truck to be transported to Phuket. Each had reportedly paid the smugglers 6,000 to 10,000 baht for the journey.

The airtight seafood refrigeration unit on the back of a truck measured just six by 2.2 meters. When it was discovered, the 36 women, 17 men and the eight-year-old girl inside were all dead.

Thailand’s government says the situation for migrant workers has changed in the past two years due to the so-called ‘zero tolerance’ approach, adopted to counter human trafficking and slave labor. These efforts are still considered a work in progress by several international human rights groups.

Before departing last week, Ms Suu Kyi thanked the Thai government for taking care of migrants and urged workers to behave themselves.

“Myanmar workers in Thailand are guests of their host country, and should love, be honest with and behave well toward their hosts,” she said.

During Ms Suu Kyi’s first visit to Thailand four years ago, she openly opposed the government’s stance on migrant workers, and urged her countrymen to fight for their rights.

Additional reporting by The Nation.

— Sukawin Tanthavanich

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Events

Phuket Monopoly game creators need your help with token designs

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Phuket Monopoly game creators need your help with token designs | The Thaiger

Phuket is set to get its own version of the popular game MONOPOLY and its creators want your help with ideas for the specialised tokens. ‘MONOPOLY: Phuket Edition’ was announced last month which will see the street art on the board game replaced with that of famous places around Thailand’s famous tourist destination. Such art will include beaches, hotels, shops, markets and other popular attractions.

Jennifer Lau from Winning Moves UK, is producing the game under official license from Monopoly brand owners, Hasbro. Lau says the tokens will feature a holiday theme. The token’s departure from the original theme of wheelbarrows, boots, iron, and thimbles as well as popular sports cars and hats.

“We have had a wealth of emails and suggestions coming in for Phuket, so thank you for each and every single one of them! We are taking them all into consideration whilst putting together the design of the game.”

“We wanted to change the tokens so that they would be more suitable for an island like Phuket, where so many people like to go on holiday to.”

“There will be six themed tokens that replace the original and we want to hear your suggestions for what these tokens should be!”

Bangkok has already been featured in the Monopoly game as it came out for purchase back in 2018.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket holds vaccine administration rehearsal as it waits for green light

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Phuket holds vaccine administration rehearsal as it waits for green light | The Thaiger

Phuket is rehearsing procedures to ready themselves for the Covid‐19 vaccine administration green light. A rehearsal at Vachira Hospital’s Lan Muang Khao open area was held late yesterday to iron out any kinks in the administration process. Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong watched over the procedures along with other health officials.

Pichet says the first vaccine round of 4,000 doses should arrive early in March, with the 2nd and 3rd set of doses, 16,000 and 48,000 respectively, to arrive in April and May.

“The government recognises the importance of the affected areas of the economy where the epidemic situation of COVID-19 must be stopped and has allocated the COVID-19 vaccine to Phuket Province to build herd immunity, restore the economy, return a smile to Thailand.”

“We are preparing to COVID-19 mass vaccination to build confidence among the people that they will receive a quality, safe vaccine and to receive follow-up care after it has been administered.”

Pichet says Phuket’s first target groups to receive the vaccine include medical and public health personnel, with others on the frontlines to come next.

Then, workers aged 18-59 years old, people with underlying diseases including chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity will follow.

“People with severe neurological conditions and pregnant women should be wary of taking the vaccine, as well as women who are breastfeeding and people with immunodeficiency.”

The procedure to get vaccinated starts by recipients undergoing screening by having their temperatures taken, and then sanitising their hands before entering the administration area. Then, they will move their way through a series of steps, detailed below:

Step 1: Register

Step 2: Record weight and blood pressure

Step 3: Pass the screening process by have their medical history and risk assessment recorded and then signing a consent to receive the vaccine

Step 4: Wait for vaccination

Step 5: Vaccination

Step 6: Rest for 30 minutes, while being observed for symptoms. Then scan the official Line account “หมอพร้อม” (“Doctor Ready”)

Step 7: Pass a final check before receiving a document confirming vaccination

Pichet says health workers will follow up with vaccine recipients after 1,7, and 30 days from being vaccinated to monitor any adverse reactions.

Those who are set to receive their second jab will have appointments made for them. Those who receive the Sinovac vaccine will be scheduled to have their second doses 2 to 4 weeks after the first. AstraZeneca vaccine receivers will be scheduled for their second doses 10 to 12 weeks after the first.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket police officer charged with attempted murder for shooting and critically injuring a noodle vendor

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket police officer charged with attempted murder for shooting and critically injuring a noodle vendor | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

The drunk, off-duty police officer in Phuket who has caught on camera shooting and beating a noodle vendor on Bangla Road is now facing attempted murder charges as well as charges of carrying a firearm in public without a necessary reason and firing a weapon in a public area. The commander of the Phuket police station said he ordered investigators to prosecute the officer Pornthep Channarong with every criminal charge that can be applied.

The officer had gotten into an altercation just before dawn yesterday and shot a young vendor who was walking by. Surveillance camera footage show the 25 year old suddenly falling to the ground after being shot. The officer walks up and shoots the vendor at a close range, but it appears the second shot did not hit the vendor. The officer also slapped the vendor in the face, picked him up and shoved him over, and then kicked him as he lay on the ground.

The vendor has a 4 year old daughter and 3 month old son. His wife says normally he works as a motorbike driver, but he was helping his mother selling noodles. He was shot while he was walking back from collecting a noodle bowl, she says. The vendor is in critical condition and being cared for at Vachira Phuket Hospital’s intensive care unit. He’s in need of Type B blood.

“For his condition, the doctor told me that the bullet went through his lung. He lost a lot of blood. We need a lot of Type B blood for him.”

A disciplinary investigation into the incident was launched by police and Pornthep was officially dismissed from the Royal Thai Police force. Region 8 Police Commander Kitrat Panpetch says the incident does not reflect the police force in Phuket.

“The incident was caused by an officer who did something wrong that our organisation does not want. We are a big organisation with more than 200,000 officers under our control. Our officers are not all bad like this.”

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pornsak Nuannu says he has reminded the police chiefs across the island to discuss reasons for carrying firearms in public.

“Carrying firearms is to prevent any type of crime that may happen, not to commit a crime by themselves like this incident. If I see any police doing such a thing, I will decisively proceed in terms of both officer discipline and criminal charges.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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