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Phuket Sports: Truth, tyres and tall tales – F1

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Phuket Sports: Truth, tyres and tall tales – F1 | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: The 2013 Formula 1 rules are much the same as last year, so slower teams have had a better chance to copy and catch-up in the off-season rather than have faster teams increase their lead with innovations. But the new Pirelli tyres are going to degrade even faster than the 2012 versions. So I expect a very close season.

Pre-season testing of the teams’ new cars in Spain is over. The top ten results in order were: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren), Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber), Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus), Paul di Resta (Force India), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Charles Pic (Caterham).

What to make of it? Are the results and comments to the media indicative of relative rankings or of crafty camouflage? They are both. F1 teams play their cards so close to their chests that they are nailed on. They may not have used their latest gizmo’s to keep progress up their sleeves, and they could have over-fuelled their cars to slow themselves down. One thing is certain; we are in for some shocks. Following is what I guess.

Red Bull was slower than Mercedes and Ferrari in Spain, and Red Bull faces looked very worried. Perhaps they had taken excellent acting lessons, but I think they are terrified by Ferrari’s progress. I think Vettel will be lucky to make the podium in Melbourne.

Ferrari looks like the team to beat in Australia, and maybe for the season. If they really have a car to match Alonso’s skill, they will be formidable. Barring accidents, he should be on the podium.

McLaren had difficulty with the new Pirelli tyres in Spain. The 2013 tyres have been designed for hot circuits, and Spain was cold. I would not be surprised to see Button on the podium in Melbourne with Alonso.

Despite Nico Rosberg being fastest in testing, I would be surprised if Mercedes managed a podium finish in Australia. They were far behind last season. Lewis Hamilton is a great driver, but I fear that history will say that in changing his colors he cashed in his birthright for a mess of Euros.

Kimi Räikkönen and Lotus will be asking tough questions too. They were not at their technical best in Spain, but expect them to be in the points in the first race, and Kimi would be a good outside bet for a podium position.

Sauber may not have their tyre wear sorted out for Australia. I suspect Williams and Force India will both be happy if they end Melbourne with two cars each in the points. And a newly revamped Caterham would love a point.

Melbourne is a cool street circuit. The cars run with high down force, and it has a bit of mystery about it. Practice sessions tell little; the track starts very green, and evolves fast over the weekend as rubber gets laid down.

After Melbourne, the circus will head to Sepang, where the track is notorious for flooding and upsets. But Alonso, Vettel, Button and Räikkönen all feel at home, and Sergio Pérez did so well last year. Shanghai was Schumacher’s only win for Mercedes last season and then it’s Bahrain where politics overshadow sport, but both are hot. At Catalunya, the race last year looked like a dodgem circuit littered with broken cars. Then it is Monaco where anyone can win who qualifies well, and it’s the high point of the social calendar. Silverstone is at midsummer, and that’s always a great race.

Nürburgring is early July. Initially announcing 20 races for this year, the FIA then scrapped the New Jersey Grand Prix. The circuit will not be ready to host its inaugural race. There was talk of filling the space with Turkey, dropped in 2012 following a disagreement over fees. Austria and Portugal were also mooted. But we now know that the July 21 date will not be filled, leaving a three-week gap between the German and Hungarian Grands Prix.

Neither of these races inspires me much, but the next three are magic: Spa in August, Monza in early September, and Singapore later that month. Spa and Monza are fast hard tracks that can change the face of the championship. Monza is also the jinx circuit – win at Monza and lose the championship! And Singapore is becoming a circuit to rival the social position of Monaco.

Then it’s a mediocre Korean GP and on to Suzuka for the Japanese GP, always one of the great races of the year. India tends to disappoint, but Abu Dhabi in November will be splendid. And if the season is as tight as I think it will be, the winner will not be decided as they head to Austin for the US GP. That was wonderful last season, entertaining and classic. The year ends as always in Sao Paulo. That will be November 24.

A whole year to look forward to. Lies now, truth by Sao Paulo – a splendid prospect!

The Australian Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Sunday and will be shown at The Green Man (click here for details).

— The Digby

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Crime

2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night

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2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night | The Thaiger
PHoTO: Nashaplaneta.net

Police say 2 men were gunned down at the Phuket Bus Terminal by a colleague at the terminal along the stretch of Thepkasattri road heading into Phuket Town last night. The incident happened at about 10:15pm with the local police chief arriving along with medical staff from Vachira Hospital shortly after the incident.

60 year old Wian Iadchuthong, the alleged gunman, was waiting to surrender at the scene when police arrived. Police say Wian appeared to be drunk and told them he had a serious argument with the 2 men and decided to take their lives with the gun. Police say they found 50 year old Yod Sae Lee lying on the ground in front of a taxi service stand, badly wounded. He was given CPR before being rushed to Vachira Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

54 year old Prakob Chuthong was also found lying dead by the counter of a 24 hour car park service kiosk. Police say he had been shot 2 times, once in the left side of his head and once in his left rib cage, according to Bangkok Post.

Witnesses say before the shooting, Wian was quietly drinking alone. But after getting drunk, he walked to the counter of the car park service kiosk and allegedly fired 2 shots from a 9mm gun at point-blank range, killing Prakob instantly. Wian then ran towards Yod, who was sitting in front of the taxi service stand. Yod saw Wian coming at him with the gun and he ran away to 1 side of the terminal building, only to be intercepted by Wian who allegedly fired 5 shots. Yod was hit 1 time in the head, 2 times in the torso and 2 times in the legs. Yod was also rushed to Vachira Hospital where he later died.

An initial police investigation found that the 3 were close colleagues at the workplace, but often engaged in heated fights over motorcycle taxi and taxi services at the bus terminal.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied?

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Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied? | The Thaiger

Culminating 2 weeks of mass confusion over the apparent mandatory self-quarantine for arrivals to Phuket from Bangkok and other high risk provinces, Phuket’s provincial communicable disease committee has agreed to lift the mandatory 14 day quarantine “to help boost the local economy hit by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

But for the vast majority of arrivals from Bangkok (DMK and BKK) to Phuket there wasn’t even any mention of quarantine. Over the past 2 weeks, since Phuket’s Governor released a 3 page announcement about new restrictions for the island, people have mostly been coming and going as usual. The only additional impediments were all arrivees having to download and fill in the Mor Chana app and registering with gophuget.com.

In 2 weeks not a single person has reported to The Thaiger that they had been forced to self-quarantine. Last night, when checking in at Suvarnabhumi airport for a Thai VietJet flight to Phuket, the person at the Check-In counter told the passenger (we’ll call them Mic to protect their identity) they would have to serve 14 days in state quarantine upon arrival in Phuket. Mic, surprised, asked for some sort of confirmation of this from airline management or information from the Phuket Provisional officials. None was forthcoming. Nothing more was said or communicated to the passengers.

When the plane landed in Phuket officials checked that passengers had completed the Mor Chana app and scanned their phones after they’d completed the gophuget.com registration. And that was it. No mention of quarantine.

The situation has been repeated by other Thaiger staff over the past 2 weeks as well, but without any mention of quarantine during the check-in or boarding procedures with various airlines. In all cases they flew from Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang airports.

Phuket’s Governor Narong Woonciew says the decision to ease the Covid-19 restrictions for visitors followed calls from the business community seeking to lure visitors to Phuket. (The Thaiger wonders if any of these officials had actually travelled over the past 2 weeks)

Local businesses met with provincial authorities on Friday proposing an end to the mandatory quarantine period “for people travelling from certain high-risk areas” in the hope of “stimulating the tourism industry”. The proposal was less about stimulating and more about raising the industry from its current flatline.

But whatever mandatory quarantine they were asking to be lifted appears to be have been, at best, loosely applied anyway.

Phuket has has a triple hit. The first when the borders were closed in April and the international airport closed. The second was when December arrived, the start of the busy tourist high-season. The third was the new restrictions added 2 weeks ago in response to the 2nd wave of clusters that started on December 20, tripling the total number of Covid infections in the country in just over a month.

According to Bangkok Post, Sarayuth Mallum, president of the Phuket travel industry council, says… “strict disease control measures remain necessary to protect local people and tourists from contracting the virus”.

Somehow, the mandatory quarantine requirement instructions never reached the airport officials. But, for now anyway, the “restrictions” have been lifted anyway. What was you experience arriving in Phuket over the past week? Were you asked to conduct a mandatory 14 day self-quarantine?

In the meantime the struggling domestic airlines have been forced to massively cancel or reschedule flights. Over the past 2 days most airlines only had 1 or 2 flights to and from Phuket and Bangkok, down from the 4 – 10 daily flights some airlines were offering.

More about the Mor Chana App here…

More about the direct effects on the island of Phuket…

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident

The Thaiger

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Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident | The Thaiger

A national park officer has been fired after being accused of spying on a woman in the public toilet on January 17 at Phuket’s Sirinath National Park. 28 year old Abdulrama Mahaderi, was accused by a woman named Sopita and her boyfriend Panupong Rungrueng of climbing a wall that separates the men’s and women’s sections of the toilet at Nai Yang beach in order to look at Sopita. Abdulrama allegedly also had his mobile phone in his hand.

Sirinath National Park Chief Pramote Kaewnam confirmed that an investigative committee had spoken to witnesses and determined that Abdulrama was guilty of “misbehaviour and improper actions.”

Pramote confirmed that Abdulrama’s employment contract was then terminated, effective last Wednesday, 3 days after the incident allegedly took place. On its Facebook page, the Sirinath National Park made a post about the incident.

“It has caused disgrace to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and affected the image of the overall department.”

Sura Lertthaisong of Sakhu Police confirmed that Abdulrama would be facing charges and that he was currently investigating whether a charge of “bullying in public” under Section 397 of the Criminal Code would be appropriate.

Abdulrama had previously posted on the official Sirinath National Park Facebook page that his understanding was that no charges would be pursued by Sopita and Panupong.

“The tourists told me that they did not want to press charges. They just told me that they did not want me to do anything like this again.”

But after Panupong posted a photo of Abdulrama, detailing his alleged indiscretion on social media, others came forward with similar accusations.

“One group of women said that they were also spied on by this man on the toilet wall 2 months ago, but they did not report it and did not press charges – and the truth faded away as if nothing ever happened.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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