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DNA tests confirm Phuket sea gypsy village “of 100 years’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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DNA tests confirm Phuket sea gypsy village “of 100 years’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: DNA tests on skeletal remains unearthed at the sea gypsy village in Rawai have confirmed that seafaring nomads have used Phuket’s southern beach to call home for more than 100 years.

“The bones were buried deep in the ground at least 60 years ago,” said Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Director Chatchawal Suksomjit.

The DNA from the bones matched that of Nim Luckkor, the 65-year-old man who lives in the house built over the site where the bones were found, he explained.

“This evidence supports the villagers’ claims that they have lived here for more than 100 years,” Gen Chatchawal said during a visit to the Rawai sea gypsy village late yesterday afternoon.

A team of DSI officers excavated the bones – parts of a skull, arm, leg and chest – from under the house in August last year (story here).

However, Mr Luckkor said yesterday that he had no idea whose bones they were.

“I have been living here for so long. I had no idea someone was buried under my house until officials discovered the bones last year,” he said.

The positive DNA match of the bones to a living sea gypsy resident in the village may help bolster the gypsies’ claim to have lived on the land for generations.

Establishing long duration of residency is a key element in the gypsies’ fight against private investors who have already won court orders to evict some villagers from the site (story here).

“More than 100 villagers have been sued for encroaching on private land,” said Gen Chatchawal.

“Nine families have been ordered by the court to move from their homes, but the case is under appeal and none have left the community.”

Gen Chatchawal explained to villagers that the DSI will do its utmost to provide evidence to support the villagers’ right to continue living at the village.

“We hope the court will consider the evidence and dismiss the private land claims,” he said. “But it is now up to the court, and we cannot interfere in its decision.”

Gen Chatchawal did not suggest an explanation for how private businessmen came to be issued land titles for plots inside the sea gypsy village now that the DSI’s investigation has proved that the villagers have lived at the site for more than a century.

However, just hours before his visit to the Rawai sea gypsy village yesterday, Gen Chatchawal announced that he will order the Land Office to hand over records and copies of land titles for plots along the border of – or allegedly in – Phuket’s Sirinath National Park (story here).

At that press conference, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) director Samak Donnapee accused the Land Office of blankly refusing to hand over public records to officers investigating private investors’ claims to land inside the park.

Many of those investors have also somehow been issued land titles for plots in question.

The sea gypsies in Rawai expressed deep gratitude to Gen Chatchawal for the DSI’s efforts on their behalf.

“I am so happy the DSI is helping us. I do not know what to say,” said community leader Ngeem Damrongkaset.

Nang Deeden, 75, said that his sister was one of the people being sued for encroaching on private land.

“I hope the evidence helps her in court,” he said. “But we are not going anywhere. We have been living here for 100 years.”

Yah Deeden, 72, expressed her thanks.

“I am very happy that the DSI is helping us. Without them we do not know what to do,” she said.

“We have lived here for many generations. We have nowhere else to go.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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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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