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Phuket arrest: Father remains jailed

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket arrest: Father remains jailed | Thaiger
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PHUKET: A father volunteered to remain in jail in the United States on Monday while awaiting trial on charges that he fled the U.S. with his 3-year-old daughter in violation of an order issued by the Family Court of Greenville County, South Carolina.

According to the Greenville News yesterday, Samuel Lee Horton II, 38, was arrested in Phuket three weeks ago, ending a search that lasted more than a year, federal prosecutors said.

FBI Special Agent Lisa Quillen wrote in an affidavit that Horton flew from New York to New Delhi, India in April 2009. Greenville County sheriff’s deputies charged him the following month with violating a custody order, Quillen wrote.

Horton initially returned to the United States at Los Angeles and has more recently been in the Greenville County Detention Center, authorities said.
Horton volunteered to remain in custody after attorneys in a court hearing clashed over whether he should be granted bond.

Horton has been charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and giving a false statement for the use or application for a passport.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

7-Eleven swamps Thailand

Earth Times
Phuket residents will not be surprised to learn that Thailand has overtaken Taiwan as host to the third-largest number of 7-Eleven convenience stores in the world, behind only Japan and the USA, media reports said yesterday.

The number of 7-Eleven outlets in Thailand reached 5,500 this year, surpassing Taiwan’s 4,000 stores, but behind Japan’s 12,000 stores and the USA’s 6,000, the Bangkok Post reports.

“We expect the total number of stores to reach 7,000 in 2012, enabling us to replace the US [as World Number Two],” said Suvit Kingkaeo, Senior Deputy Managing Director of CP All Plc, operator of the 7-Eleven franchise for Thailand.

The ubiquitous 24-hour convenience stores were introduced to the Thai market around 20 years ago and now offer various services, such as paying bills and providing mobile phone SIM cards as well as conventional corner-store fare.

Thai army deflated

Earth Times
An 11-million-dollar airship recently purchased by the Royal Thai Army has been grounded for the past several weeks because of leaks, news reports said yesterday.

The US-made Aeros 40D aircraft, which was delivered in May, has been sitting in a hangar because of several ruptures in the stitching on the aircraft’s body.

The army purchased the helium-filled craft to conduct surveillance in Thailand’s three troubled southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, where a separatist struggle has claimed 4,000 lives over the past six years.

The military went on a buying spree after its coup in 2006 when it ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled Thailand to escape a jail sentence for corruption.

The military budget jumped 60 per cent in 2007 and 18 per cent in each of 2008 and 2009.

Drought hits Thai farmers

The Nation
This year’s prolonged drought has badly hurt Thai farmers, who face increased production costs and lower yields, and are likely to see the effects in next year’s crops as well.

Farmers have not been able to harvest their crops as usual, as lack of rain has disrupted their normal farming cycles. Rice farmers have been advised to grow their main crops in the middle of July.

In addition, a drought brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon has seen some fruit crops either diminished or delayed.

The drought has created an opportunity for some businesses involved in alternative water supplies in Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporting nation, where the staple is farmed throughout the year and demand for water is high.

Thai crackdown benefits Burma?

The Irawaddy
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), a proxy militia of the Burmese regime, says it has seen profits rise at its unofficial “Immigration Checkpoint” following Thailand’s recent crackdown on illegal migrant workers, according to a source close to the DKBA.

The DKBA checkpoint, locally known as “Gate Zero” and controlled by a DKBA battalion, has become the main deportation point for illegal migrant workers arrested in Thailand.

Gate Zero is located on the Thai-Burma border next to the Myawaddy Friendship Bridge, just across the Moei River from Mae Sot in Thailand’s Tak province.

“The crackdown has meant more migrant workers are being deported to the gate, so revenues have gone up,” the source said.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva recently issued an official order to set up a special center for the suppression, arrest and prosecution of alien workers in Thailand.

Thailand promotes North

TTR Weekly
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says it will promote in the UK the lesser known regions of Thailand, such as the Northeast and the eastern seaboard.

To balance the southern region’s popularity in Europe, spearheaded by Phuket, the TAT intends to experiment by promoting the Northeast region, known as ‘Isan’, and lesser known beach destinations on the eastern seaboard in a move to support government policy to spread the benefits of investment and tourism.

In 2009, Thailand welcomed 14.09 million tourist arrivals, of which 777,313 were from the UK and represented a 30% market share of the overall market.

The UK also generated the highest tourism revenues of any country for Thailand last year, due to its nationals’ average length of stay of 15.5 days.

— Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

British citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal ‘party’ in Phuket

Tim Newton

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An unedited video circulating, showing Phuket police raiding an illegal gathering in Cherngtalay, ended up with 2 UK citizens, working in Phuket, being fined 6,000 baht each. The Cherngtalay police are also calling on another 4 foreigners attending the party to present themselves to the police station to be charged as well.

Cherngtalay Police descended on the property around 5pm on Sunday following a tip-off from residents in the same street.

The video shows the police at the front gate of the property demanding entry… “Open, open, open the door… now!” The people inside the gate shouted back “no party”. The policeman leading the raid was Capt Prasan Ketsaro. Despite a number of other foreigners, and Thais, at the gathering, only the 2 British people attending the event were fined after being taken to the station.

British citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by ThaigerThey were officially charged with “acting against the Communicable Diseases Act, BE 2558 and the Phuket Provincial Order #2284/2564 Section 5,” according to the police report.

At the end of April the Phuket governor made an announcement, tightening restrictions for the island province.

“For social activities, all people must refrain gathering for celebration, such as birthday parties, welcome or farewell parties, or others, except traditional events, such as funerals, weddings, or ordination.”

At the time the vice governor of Phuket said that foreigners breaking the rule could also be subject to being deported. Foreign consular officials were also invited to the provincial offices with Governor asking them to ensure the citizens they represented would abide by the current rules and restrictions.

The video of what appears to be an afternoon soirée, complete with alcoholic drinks and a barbecue, was deemed by the attending police to be in clear contravention of the current restrictions, a point that the lead police officer, doing all the talking, kept making as he beckoned everyone inside the house to come out.

“Everybody, outside. Come one, come on, outside!”

None of the foreigners were wearing face masks in the early phases of the video although the Thai people inside the property either were, or were quick to put them on as the cameras were rolling.

The police kept berating and accusing the people inside the property… “you come for party”. They pointed to a pile of iced drinks on the verandah of the property (which contained wine, beer and other beverages)… “what is this, what is this?”

Any conversation was a bit one-sided with the Captain doing most of the talking whilst the owners of the property, and their guests, were at least trying to explain their situation.

The accusations were flying thick and fast “Why party?! You party!”

The foreigners insisted it wasn’t a party and were trying to reason with the police about the intentions of the afternoon’s gathering but the police had already made up their mind.

The lead police told the accused that they could take photos of the ‘raid’. The Thaiger has decided not to air the video but have shared some edited screenshots.

British citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by ThaigerBritish citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by ThaigerBritish citizens fined 6,000 baht each for illegal 'party' in Phuket | News by Thaiger

A lot of the social media commentary about the incident has focussed on whether the gathering was a “party” or not and accusations that the attending police were just after some tea money.

“The high crimes and misdemeanours of having drinks and a BBQ in your garden “

“What party? Even the mosque in Bang Tao is packed everyday, local Thai restaurants are packed – this it outrageous.”

“Pretty strange…. a good way to make money.”

“What a country this place is turning into.”

“The video is on all the Thai news site… and it not look like a party at all.”

The names of the people involved in the raid have been published in other media.

 

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Thailand

Americans in Thailand urge US to provide Covid-19 vaccines to citizens overseas

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Mufid Majnun for Unsplash

Thai officials say expats living in Thailand will be included in the government’s mass Covid-19 vaccination plan, but exactly when that will be is still up in the air. With foreign embassies in Thailand clearly stating that they will not assist with providing citizens living overseas with vaccines, expats are relying on the Thai government.

A number of Americans are now urging the US government to provide Covid-19 vaccines to citizens living in Thailand. And with the recent outbreak linked to the more contagious variant of the virus, getting a vaccine in Thailand has become more pressing.

A “Covid-19 Vaccine Task Force” of Democrats Abroad Thailand members, as well as those from American organisations based in Thailand, is calling on the US government to deliver vaccines to citizens living in Thailand, chairperson of Democrats Abroad Thailand and a United Nations consultant, Paul Risley, told VOA.

“Americans who live abroad need to be vaccinated for the same reasons that Americans who live in the United States need to be vaccinated… Because it’s the only way to stop Covid-19.”

If an American were to travel back to the US for a vaccine, they would still need to stay in a hotel or certified facility for a 14-day quarantine at their own expense when re-entering Thailand. Along with getting together the required paperwork, they would need to go through numerous Covid-19 tests including before the flight, upon arrival and before being released from quarantine. The flights to and from the US can end up being more than 20 hours per trip and add up to thousands of dollars in travel costs.

For the vast majority of Americans in Thailand, flying back to the US is the only way to get vaccinated at the moment. The US Embassy in Bangkok says vaccines will not be provided for US citizens living overseas.

The Department of State does not provide direct medical care, including vaccinations, to private U.S. citizens abroad. We are committed to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens in need overseas, including by providing information on local medical resources when appropriate. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.

At a recent Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “all people who reside in Thailand, regardless of their nationality, are eligible to receive the vaccine under the government’s plan.”

Mass vaccination campaigns are being rolled out in high-risk areas, such as Bangkok’s Khlong Toey slum where a cluster of infections was reported, as well as Phuket and Koh Samui, tourist islands that are said to be of “economic significance.” Health officials are trying to hit herd immunity on the 2 islands to reopen to foreign tourists.

Expats in Phuket who have a valid work permit can now register for a state Covid-19 vaccine. The registration must be under the company name and expats are told to have the company’s human resources staff assist with the registration process.

While no official announcement has been made regarding expats in Koh Samui, some foreigners who work as English teachers on the island say they have received both doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine. Schools apparently helped with the registration process, but some teachers say they told to keep quiet about getting the vaccine. Some did not receive a vaccine certificate or any other documentation confirming that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

SOURCE: VOA

 

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Phuket

ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in Phuket are close to a “critical” low

Tanutam Thawan

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FILE PHOTO

Covid-19 patients in severe condition may have to been transferred from a government hospital in Phuket to a private hospital as the number of available hospital beds at public intensive care units in Phuket is close to a “critical” low, according to Vachira Phuket Hospital Director Chalermpong Sukontapol.

There are 9 ICU rooms at the Vachira Phuket Hospital. 5 are being used for Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms while the other 4 rooms are for those with mild symptoms and are under observation before being moved to another bed.

“If the 9 rooms are full of severe symptom cases, that will be a big critical stage. We may need to transfer our patients to other provinces or private hospitals, which may involve additional costs.”

He says 50% of the Covid-19 patients in Phuket are asymptomatic while 30% have mild symptoms and 10% have severe symptoms. For most of those with severe symptoms, the virus has moved to their lungs and they are in need of special equipment, like ventilators, to help them breathe and Charlempong says those patients need to be under close observation.

SOURCE: Phuket News

 

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