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Last chance for peace?

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Last chance for peace? | Thaiger

PHUKET: Is the light at the end of the tunnel that of a train coming our way? The answer depends on how the red shirts, who have been tired, dispirited and discredited, respond today to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s unexpected offer to hold a general election on November 14.

Whether the 30-minute national address last night is a game-changing moment will be known soon. As of now, the ball is squarely in the red shirts’ court. The roars of the crowds at the Rajprasong intersection at the end of Abhisit’s statements could mean anything, but from Day One the protesters have never been the ones making any of the decisions.

Optimists say the Rajprasong occupation may even end in a day or two. They see Abhisit’s offer as a carrot being dangled before demoralized red leaders who have had their personal well-being threatened by possibly serious legal action and their image smeared by the Chulalongkorn Hospital invasion, arms seizures, and alleged links with armed militants.

The real “stick” is yet to come. On Sunday, an emergency Cabinet meeting was called to approve the possibility of an armed crackdown, which would almost surely be accompanied by terrorism charges against key red-shirt leaders, who already face accusations of violating the state of emergency law.

It was thus a good psychological moment for Abhisit to put his five-point “road map” on the table. “This is your graceful exit,” was his unspoken message. Take it, or you will see armored vehicles moving in through the other door.

Now it’s a matter of whether common sense prevails among the red shirts. They poured into Bangkok on March 12 knowing that the political calendar at that time tentatively set the general election for late next year. Abhisit virtually told the movement to think about it, now that he had agreed to reduce the waiting period by half.

The prime minister was almost back to his brimming-with-confidence self yesterday. The road map, he said, was a result of comprehensive consultations with virtually everyone who mattered. It calls for joint national efforts to rebuild political and economic systems to address legitimate problems of the poor, reinforce the bonds between Thais and the monarchy, and make sure that the news media are a constructive tool for society in an age of fast-evolving technology.

An independent investigation will be launched into recent violent incidents that have deepened the national divide.

“This is what I think can really solve your problems along with the national problems,” said Abhisit, seeking to communicate directly with the red shirts at the end of his address. However, he vowed to go ahead without their cooperation, although that would mean the November 14 election date could be postponed. In a firm, yet pleading tone, he urged them to accept the road map so the whole nation can happily celebrate Coronation Day together tomorrow.

Red leaders Jatuporn Promphan and Nuttawut Saikua suggested the movement would give an answer as early as today. They did not comment on the content of the PM’s road map, but the absence of criticism should encourage Abhisit.

With increased public pressure in the wake of the Chulalongkorn Hospital incident and greater likelihood of a crackdown, red-shirt leaders themselves had appeared to be preparing more generous offers for the government in exchange for being treated as political offenders rather than slapped with terrorism- or national security-related crimes.

Before Abhisit’s announcement, Nuttawut insisted the red shirts had never shut the door on further talks. The government should make an offer and the red shirt leaders would consider it, he stated. “The government should say how many months it wants,” he said.

It did sound like the red shirts were waiting for a way out. Public pressure has combined with daily fears of a crackdown, not to mention the harsh environment – extreme heat, the smell, and the fact that it was getting harder every day to mobilise people to join the protests.

An estimated 6,000 red shirts gathered at the protest site during the day yesterday, and some 8,000 last night, far fewer than when the rallies began.

— Tulsathit Taptim

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

12 Covid-19 violators busted drinking on Patong Beach

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A group drinking on the beach was arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions. (via Freepik)

12 violators of Covid-19 restrictions, of Thai and foreign origin, have been arrested and taken into custody by police for gathering and drinking in public on Patong Beach. The Covid-19 measures currently in place in Phuket ban all get-togethers involving alcohol, limiting the number that can drink together to just 2 people. The group were arrested for violating this order and for drinking in public.

According to the police the group had 3 foreign men in it along with 5 Thai women and 3 Thai ladyboys, so for those keen at maths the details of the 12th person were not revealed. The Covid-19 rule violators were arrested Friday night in Patong on the walkway along the beach on Thaweewong Road, the popular beachfront road.

Police noted the specifics of their liquor stash, confirming that the group had 2 bottles and 8 cans of Thai beer, 2 imported beers, 4 wine coolers, 4 soda waters, and 2 bottles of Thai liquor. The stash was confiscated by the police.

The perpetrators were brought to Phuket town to the Phuket City Police Station. There they were met by the Phuket Vice governors and medical personnel from Vachira Phuket Hospital. The medics administered swab sample Covid-19 test to each member of the group of restriction violators.

The Vice Governor reminded people that these restrictions were put in place after more than 20 people tested positive for Covid-19 from a small group of people drinking together. That is why the regulations allow just two people together when alcohol is involved. He stressed that police and government officials have been instructed to crack down on violators to try to quickly curb the spread of Covid-19 for a chance at reopening to international tourism July 1st.

Officials asked the public to work together to attempt to eliminate the spread of Covid-19 in Phuket and instructed anybody who sees violators of the Covid-19 restrictions to contact the police immediately. Sentence and fine details were not yet available for the group of 12.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 mask violators in Phuket forced to exercise

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Pushups instead of a 6,000 baht fine at a Phuket checkpoint yesterday. (via video screenshot)

For those who have more pounds on their body than pounds in their pocket, exercise punishment seen in Phuket yesterday for mask violators may or may not be welcome. Officials have walked back the strict 6,000 baht punishment for the first warning against someone not wearing a mask and were spotted forcing those who have gone out without a mask to do exercise on the street.

The people forced to exercise were at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the Rawai subdistrict, where the Chalong Police along with local medical workers were checking people yesterday. The checkpoint was set up in an effort to push one hundred per cent mask compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Phuket.

Not only were they checking everyone who passed by to make sure they had their masks, but also to correct those who were wearing their masks improperly. We’ve all seen the people who seem to think that a mask on their chin or underneath their nose is somehow just as effective as a properly worn mask, or at least that they can get away with “wearing a mask” while limiting their personal inconvenience.

Officials were quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of people passing through the checkpoint, both foreigners and Thai, did have their masks with them and were wearing them properly. But they did catch more than 10 people not wearing their face mask or not using them correctly.

Authorities decided to let them off with a first soft warning by moving bodies instead of moving baht. Police made violators do exercise right there on the street in hopes of shaming them into making better decisions next time. All violators did have their names and details taken down with a promise that if they were caught again proper traditional fines would be handed down.

No word yet on any plans to make this punishment into a Tik-Tok Channel.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Tourism

Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Tim Newton

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Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

β€œAll stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the β€˜Phuket Model’.

β€œWhen the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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