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Glut of housing for tsunami survivors

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Glut of housing for tsunami survivors | The Thaiger
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PHANG NGA: This province, the hardest hit in Thailand when the tsunami struck on December 26, may end up with twice as many houses as it needs to accommodate peole rendered homeless by the disaster, Provincial Governor Anuwat Metheeviboonwut said on Saturday.

Speaking at his residence in the province, Gov Anuwat said that so many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals, from within Thailand and without, had offered to build homes that the state house-building project had been ended.

He said, “The province needed only about 2,000 houses, but NGOs and others have offered to build more than 4,000.

“I don’t know who will live in these houses – or, for that matter, where we will put them.

“The best we can do for the moment is find a place where these people can build, but they have to organize everything themselves, to sort out problems and make sure the construction process is free of cheating, corruption or commission scams.”

The governor attacked NGOs which, he said, were encouraging people to break the law and occupy land that belongs to the state or other people.

Speaking less than a week after residents of Baan Nam Khem complained to journalists once again about being hounded off their land by property speculators weilding false papers, Gov Anuwat said, “In fact, the land belongs to a private concern, which has all the paperwork, but it had been illegally occupied by local people. The case is going through the courts now.”

He continued, “After the tsunami, the company thought it was a good opportunity to claim the land back, but the local people – supported by NGOs – are being difficult about this.”

The illegal occupation of state land is another headache, said Gov Anuwat. “Some people who were living illegally on state land before the tsunami are saying they should be allowed to live there now, and there are NGOs which are encouraging them in this wrong-doing,” he complained.

“This is a major concern for me. I’m trying to uphold the law, but these NGOs are encouraging people to break it.

“Another headache is people asking for more land than they need: we have had small families asking for three- or five-rai sites to live on; about 10 families have asked for sites with lots of land – that’s a problem I have to solve soon,” he added.

Although some 80% of Phang Nga’s population of 240,000 works in agriculture, tourism was a growing industry before the tsunami – around 70% of the 4,200 people believed to have died when the tsunami struck Phang Nga were tourists – and the collapse of tourism in the province has only added to post-tsunami woes.

Unemployment is high, especially among unskilled workers from the resorts and hotels around Khao Lak; while owners appear to be paying staff at management level and above, they have laid off many of their lower-grade staff.

Despite this cost-cutting, there are still concerns about the hotels’ ability to weather the slump, said Gov Anuwat.

He said, “Most of the investors right now are hoping for help from central government in the shape of soft loans that will enable them to renovate the whole area within six months and be ready to reopen at the start of the high season in November. But many people have still not got help from the banks and other financial institutions.”

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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