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Overstay 12 still in jail, face deportation

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Overstay 12 still in jail, face deportation | Thaiger

RANONG: A group of 12 foreign tourists arrested for overstaying their visas have spent their second night sleeping on the floor of a jail cell at Ranong Police Station.

Ranong Immigration Police, who have announced that they will deport the group, say they are only following “standard procedures” and will send the 12 to an Immigration detention center in Bangkok “soon”.

The group were arrested by a team of six Highway and Tourist Police officers at about 11 on Wednesday while on their way to Ranong and Burma for a “visa run” in the well-known “Big Bus”.

The bus was in Kapoe District, just 40 kilometers from the Ranong Immigration office, when it was stopped and the 12 were separated from the other passengers on board and placed in custody.

The most that any of the 12 had overstayed was six days.

Speaking from his prison cell, one of the detainees, a 31-year-old Australian man on his second trip to Thailand, told the Gazette:

“I can’t believe what has happened. The want to send us to the Bangkok Detention Center, from where they will deport us to our home countries – all because of a one-day overstay [in my case].

It was our second night sleeping on the dirty floor, with mosquitoes. I am black and brown from dirt.”

Some members of the group had contacted their embassies, he said, but been told, “Sorry. You are being deported – there is nothing we can do, it’s all part of ‘due process’.”

He said the group members had thought they would be released after paying 1,000-baht fines at Ranong Court yesterday. But they had been misled.

“The public prosecutor told us that if we just admitted to the Court what we did and paid a 1,000-baht fine, they would let us go to Immigration and we could complete our visa trip. We paid, but when we got to Immigration they fingerprinted us and said, ‘You’re being deported – immediately’.

Jutarat Payonchart, an employee of Phenpat Co Ltd, which runs the visa run service, told the Gazette from the Ranong courthouse yesterday afternoon that the police had overreacted in incarcerating the visa runners.

“Why did they have to keep them overnight in a cell? These aren’t illegal aliens trying to hide out in the country,” she said, adding that most had overstayed by just one or two days.

Speaking from his prison cell, the Australian told the Gazette, “We sent money for the tsunami problem. We like the Thai people and want to visit – and then we got s**t on.

“We are part of one of their tours, where everyone makes money. We spend money in Phuket, we want to stay here. It’s good for the economy, good for everyone. And now we are just being s**t on.

“We’ve been treated like animals, sleeping on the ground. I’ve never been locked up before in all my life. It’s absolutely disgusting. You cannot trust the Tourist Police anymore. They are supposed to be on our side, helping us. But now they have gone against us and made a big problem for us.

“This is absolute crap, of course. They must have another agenda. Only they know what it is; I can only speculate. This is completely wrong. I have spoken to other tourist police and they say, ‘This is unbelievable.’ There are a few bad apples involved and they have created major, major problems.

“I’ve lost flights, lost my money … it’s ridiculous,” he said, adding that he did not want to give his name “at this stage” as it might jeopardize any remaining chance of regaining his freedom and avoiding deportation.

Those chances appear slim, however.

Pol Capt Weerachai Phugkesorn of the Ranong Immigration Office told the Gazette that all 12 foreigners were arrested because they had overstayed their visas.

Among those facing deportation were English, Korean, German, Vietnamese, French, Italian and Swedish nationals, none of whom had overstayed by more than six days, he admitted.

He stressed that the arrest, confinement and deportation of the tourists did not reflect a change in Ranong Immigration’s long-standing and relaxed policy when it comes to overstays.

“It’s true that if people arrive at our office and have overstayed their visas we just fine them 200 baht per day of overstay. But it was [another police division] that arrested them, not us. If they hadn’t been arrested, we would have just fined them as usual.

“The case went to court, where the judge rendered a decision. They were sent to us by the police and we are just following the provisions of the Immigration Act by transferring them to Bangkok for deportation,” Capt Weerachai said.

Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, Assistant Director of TATs Region 4 Office in Phuket, said he believed the arrests would have no impact on tourism as long they were legal.

Foreign tourists would be more confident of their safety if they knew the police were carrying out their duties strictly according to the law, he added.

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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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