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Eight disaster-alert stations plundered

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Eight disaster-alert stations plundered | Thaiger

PHUKET: Thieves have stolen copper cable from lightning rods at eight of the island’s 11 emergency radio network repeater stations, forcing the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) to spend some 2.7 million baht on replacement and repairs.

News of the vandalism was reported by OrBorJor Vice-President Suthin Uthaithamrong at the January 30 meeting of provincial office chiefs at the Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel.

K. Suthin explained to the Gazette that to steal the copper, thieves had broken into padlocked enclosures around eight towers, all in remote high-elevation locations.

He listed the sites as: Laem Phromthep, Sapam, Tah Chat Chai, Nai Thon, two sites in the Nakkerd Hills, one in front of Veerastree Anusorn School in Thalang and one in front of Kamala Police Station.

The lightning rods are used to protect repeater stations of the OrBorJor‘s emergency radio network, which was built after the tsunami at a cost of more than 8 million baht to allow communication in the event of another disaster that causes mobile phone networks to fail.

The network is the brainchild of OrBorJor President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, who after the tsunami found herself unable to coordinate emergency response efforts because the mobile phone system she used was jammed.

The repeater stations form a ring around the island that allows users, including members of the OrBorJor beach guard and the Tourist Rescue Center in Chalong, to communicate by walkie-talkie.

The network’s base station is located on a hilltop in the Nakkerd Hills, near the site of the Mingmongkol Buddha statue being built, K. Suthin said.

The network covers the entire island and emits signals that can be picked up as far away as parts of Krabi, he said.

The thefts did not disable the repeater stations, but hindered their effectiveness during electrical storms and left them vulnerable to lightning strikes that could cause even greater damage, K. Suthin added.

The damages have already been repaired at all locations, at a cost of about 50,000 baht each, out of the OrBorJor‘s emergency fund, he said.

The first thefts were reported in mid-2006, with three thefts – in Kamala, Sapam and the Nakkerd Hills – carried out over the New Year holiday period.

Padlocked enclosures with chain-link fencing 2.5-meters tall had not deterred the thieves, who left behind some of the cutting equipment they used at some sites, he said.

K. Suthin blamed secondhand shops that deal in stolen goods for creating a market for thieves. He said good-quality copper of the type stolen could fetch up to 1,000 baht per kilo at a scrap yard.

In order to prevent future thefts, more frequent checks will be made at all enclosures and stronger locks will be used, K. Suthin said.

In response to K. Suthin’s report, Vice-Governor Vorapoj Rattasima, who chaired the meeting in place of Governor Niran Kalayanimit, instructed Phuket’s three District Chiefs to crack down on secondhand shops that receive stolen goods

Bantoon Thongtan, Head of the Phuket Attorney’s Office, told the meeting that he will recommend prison terms, not just fines, in cases of theft of government property – especially in cases where public safety is jeopardized.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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