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Crackdown ordered on religious tattoos in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The Culture Ministry has attacked the growing trend for tourists in Phuket and other parts of Thailand to have religious images tattooed on their bodies.

It has ordered provincial governors across the country, including Phuket, to crack down on such tattoos, igniting a debate on the human rights implications of forbidding the practice.

Culture Minister Niphit Intharasombat told reporters on Monday that Phuket’s Culture Office had uncovered an “alarming trend”: tourists have images such as those of the Buddha, Ganesh and Jesus Christ tattooed on their arms, legs and ankles.

It is culturally inappropriate and erodes respect for religion, Mr Niphit said.

But the ministry is likely to face an uphill battle to end the practice. The service is highly popular and tattooists can charge extra for such work, with some jobs costing upwards of 20,000 baht.

Mr Niphit downplayed the likelihood that the tattoos could be a genuine expression of spiritual belief.

The tattoos were just part of a fashion trend among tourists, who most likely did not believe in the religion and were ignorant of the true significance of the image.

As a result, Mr Niphit said the ministry’s Subcommittee on Safe and Creative Media had decided to order the governors of all Thai provinces to ban foreigners from getting tattoos of religious images of any faith.

Governors would be asked to convene meetings of those involved in the industry to ask for their cooperation, he said.

“At the meeting, we noted that these tattoos were all over the country, in particular in tourist destinations such as Khao San Road, Tawanna and Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket,” he said.

“We have to help prevent images that are respected in various religions from being tattooed onto the body.”

People with visible religious tattoos who engaged in “bad behavior” such as “sitting drinking alcohol and arguing” would damage the faiths through association, Mr Niphit said.

Acknowledging that Thai law did not prevent people from getting such tattoos, he said the ministry needed to coordinate with relevant agencies to draft measures to prevent the practice.

He would also propose to the National Culture Committee that a law be drafted that forbade the use of religious symbols for commercial purposes. The law, if passed, would affect both those who offered and used such services.

Ladda Tangsupachai, director of the ministry’s Cultural Surveillance Center, warned that if “people who showed their bodies for a living”, such as “prostitutes” and “go-go dancers”, had such tattoos, it would erode respect for religion.

But Human Rights Commissioner Wasan Panich pointed out that while Thai law prevented people from violating the Thai flag and other national icons, there were no such laws concerning religious symbols.

Any law banning the use of such images for commercial purposes must not violate people’s rights, because the term “commercial” has a broad meaning, he said.

“If people have Buddha images tattooed on their body, on their arms or chest, for example, you can’t forbid that because it’s not insulting,” he said.

“Anyone can get these tattoos because it’s their right to do that to their own body.”

But, he added, if people had such images tattooed to their ankles or “inappropriate organs”, it could be seen as insulting to religion.

“For example, if a foreigner got a tattoo of the Buddha on his ankle, Buddhists would see that as insulting to their religion,” he said.

“But if a foreigner gets a cross on his ankle, Buddhists probably wouldn’t think anything of it, but other foreigners might not be satisfied.”

“Because of that, the basic principle is that you must respect the rights of the individual, but you must not violate the rights or beliefs of others,” he added.

— Kom Chad Luek

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent | The Thaiger

Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

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Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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