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PM Yingluck addresses nation ahead of fears of violence at Bangkok protest

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PM Yingluck addresses nation ahead of fears of violence at Bangkok protest | Thaiger

PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra this evening addressed the nation in a televised broadcast to explain the Thai Government’s reasons for invoking the Internal Security Act ahead of this weekend’s mass anti-government rally in Bangkok.

To see the address, complete with English subtitles, click here.

Chief among the Prime Minister’s concerns were:

“Public gatherings and protests, especially those arising from public grievances, is provided for and protected by the Constitution. But such public gatherings must be peaceful, without the use of weapons, and within the boundaries of the law. I am ready to listen to any ideas and proposals, and to work together to solve any problems.

“But if a large number of people is mobilized by incitement, led by those who seek to overthrow an elected government and democratic rule – which is against the Constitution – and there is evidence that violence may be used to achieve those ends, then this is a case of national security. It is the government’s duty to preserve law and order, protect the lives and property of everyone – including those who are protesting and those who are not involved.

“But most importantly, the government must protect the democratic system under the constitutional monarchy. This is the reason behind today’s Cabinet decision.”

The news follows national police chief Gen Adul Saengsingkaew publicly expressing concern over possible violence in light of the large number of protesters expected to join the Pitak Siam anti-government rally led on Saturday.

The Cabinet approved the enforcement of the Internal Security Act in three districts in the capital – Dusit, Phra Nakhon and Pomprab – with immediate effect from today through next week in order to maintain law and order during the protest.

Specifically, Section 16 of the Internal Security Act allows the Cabinet, headed by the prime minister, to set up a military command center in specified areas in order to “prevent, suppress, eradicate, and overcome or mitigate the occurrence that affects internal security”.

British Ambassador to Thailand Mark Kent earlier today urged through the British Embassy in Bangkok Twitter account for “UK citizens in Thailand (especially Bangkok) please keep an eye on https://www.ukinthailand.fco.gov.uk and @ukinthailand for travel advice updates”

The British Embassy in Bangkok has reviewed its travel advisory for the area, noting that: “A large anti-government demonstration is expected to take place in the Royal Plaza at the intersection of Si Ayuthaya Road and Rajdumnoen Nok Avenue from 0900 on 24 November.

“The demonstration, which could attract up to 100,000 demonstrators, may run on until 25 November and is likely to cause serious disruption in the local area which includes Parliament, Government House and tourist attractions such as Dusit Palace, the Benchamabophit (Marble) Temple and Dusit Zoo.

“As a result of the demonstration the Internal Security Act (ISA) has been invoked and is now active in the Dusit, Pom Prab and Phra Nakorn districts of Bangkok. This is likely to mean an increased police presence and restriction of movement in these areas and the possibility of searches of cars or individuals and ID checks.

“Under the act the authorities can also limit the use of electronic equipment and, if necessary, impose a curfew. You should avoid this demonstration and any other protests.”

Earlier today, Apharat Chartchutikumjorn, Pitak Siam coordinator for Phuket, announced that up to 500 supporters will be departing Phuket to join the rally.

Ms Apharat estimated that more than 100,000 people from across the country will join the protest, which will be led by the retired general Boonlert Kaewprasit.

“Gen Boonlert said that the protest will likely last only one day, maybe two days, but not longer,” she explained.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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