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Phuket

Officials check visa service firm

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Officials check visa service firm | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The investigation into fake entry permits for foreigners took a halting step forward recently when Immigration officers visited a “visa service” company and seized 20 passports found on the premises. “We checked the company where, foreigners informed us, they had obtained stamps, and now we are waiting for further instructions,” Pol Capt Krissarat Nusen of the Phuket Provincial Immigration Office (PPIO) told the Gazette. “We found evidence there but we [have no proof of] what they were doing. We have to get more evidence before we can proceed against [the company]. “If we want to raid them, we need to have foreigners report officially to the police that they were cheated by this company, but so far no foreigners have made such reports to the police. Some have just given us information.” He said that the holders of some – but not all – of the passports had contacted the PPIO requesting the return of their travel documents. The reluctance of foreigners to make reports may be partly explained by the fact that police appear to be applying a narrow intrepretation of the rules. While those who contact the Immigration Office to report having fake stamps will not be charged with being accessories to forgery, they will be fined for overstaying their previous legitimate entry stamps at a rate of 200 baht a day, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. Capt Krissarat said that after the Gazette published news that “victims” of the visa service company could present themselves at the PPIO and would not be charged with a crime, four or five people had come forward. “We have had many phone calls asking for more details about this, but no one seems to be brave enough to make an official complaint to the police. “I would suggest that victims contact their embassy because Immigration in Bangkok is already working with the embassies over the fake stamps,” Capt Krissarat added. Colonel Montri Kosiyasathit, Deputy Commander and official spokesman of Immigration Bureau 1 in Bangkok, said he felt that local officers were interpreting the law too narrowly. “I don’t think it’s right to fine them for overstaying – they are victims, and had no intention of overstaying. It is up to the judgment of individual officers, but most of those working in local [immigration] offices tend to interpret the law narrowly,” he added. He said that he would discuss the matter of the overstay fine with the Major General in charge of Immigration Police Region 3, which includes Phuket. “I will suggest that he instruct local offices not to impose the fines because [these people] did not intend to overstay – they were victims [of fraud].” He agreed that action could not be taken against the visa service company until foreigners are willing to make official reports complaining of fraud. “However, we can question the foreigners whose passports were found as to why their passports were left with the company,” he added. Col Montri also urged foreigners to call Bangkok if they came across an Immigration officer “cheating” or telling them to do something they knew to be illegal. They should call 02-2871740 during government office hours, he said, and be prepared to give the name of the offending officer, along with the date and time of the offense and the place where the officer works.



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Phuket

Phuket seastead will be removed today

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket seastead will be removed today | The Thaiger

The Third Naval Area Command will remove the seastead stationed off Phuket south-east coast today, belonging to an American bitcoin investor and seasteading innovators Ocean Builders.

Thai authorities plan to seize the structure as evidence in a criminal case. They fear the structure will continue to be a navigation hazard if left there.

US national Chad Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), are facing charges of threatening the Kingdom’s sovereignty. Last Sunday officials from the Royal Thai Navy and Phuket Maritime boarded the structure saying it violated Article 119 of the Criminal Code and also posed a navigational hazard.

The couple launched the ‘Ocean Builders’ seastead on February 2 off the coast of Phuket. The structure is located to the southeast of Koh Racha Yai, approximately 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometres) from the mainland.

Elwartowski has claimed that his seastead is outside Thailand’s territorial waters, but Thai authorities insist that it violates Article 119 and challenges Thailand’s territorial rights.

“The Royal Thai Navy has full authority and duty to protect national interest and marine sovereignty in the area,” according to a Navy spokesperson.

Regarding the couple’s claim that they feared for their lives, Vice Admiral Sitthiporn Maskasem, commander of the Third Naval Area, said that authorities had followed the legal procedures.

“We are neither hunting them down nor threatening them,” said the commander.

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North East

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy

The Thaiger

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Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | The Thaiger

Thailand suffers calamities at both ends of the annual weather spectrum – both drought and flood. But as the demands on agriculture grow, with a growing population and the rise of tourists and development, the effects of these two extremes are becoming more apparent.

Which leads us to this year’s outlook of lower rains which is exposing the poor management of the Kingdom’s water resources. Greater development and growing population bases hasn’t been met with more or larger water catchments.

So Thai farmers are expected to face a tough 2019 as forecasters say the drought will be more acute than usual, lowering the water levels in reservoirs in the central and northeastern provinces especially.

Int eh south, Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and surrounded by water, has an acute water shortage as of Songkran and, without adequate monsoonal rain between now and November, will be facing a water crisis if it has to rely on its own island resources.

The Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension Samran Saraban says the drought this year is exacerbated by El-Nino weather cycle which causes temperature to rise 1-2 degrees higher than normal and cause the water levels in major reservoirs to drop to worrisome level. Higher temperatures mean more evaporation and more usage of reserves.

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for farmers not to grow off-season rice as drought is predicted to spread into northeastern and eastern regions. That there will likely be a new administration coping with political instability will not help leaders focus on the country’s looming water shortage.

The long dry season will lower certain farm outputs, pushing up their prices. However, an overall farm income is set to decline because the drought will leave other negative affects to farmers who are also the consumers as well. This will affect the purchasing power of farm households, which account for one-third of Thais.

Etc, etc, etc.

Economists estimated the damage from the drought on the economy this year could be high. Kasikorn Research Center estimate the drought could cost at least 15.3 billion baht. Whilst Anusorn Tamajai, Dean of Economics Faculty, Rangsit University, estimates the drought to cost even more – 20-30 billion baht -because it would affect the outputs of off-season rice, sugarcane and tapioca.

“It will dampen the purchasing power of farmers in the second quarter.”

Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence chief Yanyong Thaicharoen said that the lackluster farm income can slash the growth rate of domestic consumption this year to 3.5% versus 4.6% growth last year, in addition to other factors, namely, high household debt and slower demand for durable goods.

Spending power from farmers, according to SCB, is crucial to sustain the growth of the economy. However, the grassroots economy is bracing for negative outlook this year.

There will be intense pressure on this season’s management of Thailand’s valuable water resources, through the remaining hot season and as the catchments gather water during the monsoon.

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger | Wikipedia

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People

Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal

The Thaiger

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Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Patong Police / Theeraphong Penmit / Newshawk Phuket

A Phuket boy has been rewarded after setting an excellent example for the rest of the Patong community.

8 year old Kosin Ta-ngam, who is studying at Sai Nam Yen School in Patong in Pratom Suksa Three, has been collecting garbage in the filthy Pak Bang Canal and along Patong Beach since the beginning of this year.

He lives with his grandmother and other relatives. His grandmother has been looking after Kosin since he was 10 months old.

A certificate, scholarship and life vest have been awarded to Kosin by the Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee for displaying excellent citizen for the community as a youth volunteer and being an active part of keeping the city clean.

The Pak Bang Canal, running through the back of Patong into Patong Bay, has been a dark, dirty mess for decades. Many promises have been made to clean it up but it remains a disgraceful waterway flowing through Phuket’s main tourist town.

The tiny eight year old seems to be able to achieve a lot more than the local municipality with all their money and machinery.

Kosin, you are the Thaiger hero for today and we salute you!

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

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