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Phuket authorities call for peaceful red-shirt rally on Sunday

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket authorities call for peaceful red-shirt rally on Sunday | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: With concerns of 500 members arriving to join the red-shirt rally in Phuket on Sunday, and at least 1,500 yellow-shirt supporters staging a mass rally at Phuket Provincial Hall at the same time, Phuket authorities yesterday called for both sides to respect each other group’s democratic rights and to not engage in any conflict.

The news came at a meeting called to specifically address the security concerns following the mass rally by members of the “We Love Phuket Club” at Provincial Hall Thursday.

“This is a very sensitive issue. Police and the Provincial Administration must be fair to everyone. If the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship [UDD] wants to hold a political rally, then we cannot stop them. It is their democratic right, as long as they act within the law,” said Phuket Vice Governor Somkiet Sangkaosutthirak.

However, Royal Thai Police Phuket Special Branch (Santibaan) chief Chaisak Sawasri advised it would be prudent to keep an eye on both factions on Sunday.

“This is a very sensitive issue. According to our information, there will definitely be a red-shirt activity on Sunday, starting at 8:30 am. However, we have yet to confirm where. It will probably be held in Sakoo or a public place past Thalang Technical College on the way to the airport,” he said.

Maj Chaisak explained that he had been informed of fellow red-shirt supporters arriving from Chumphon, Ranong, Krabi, Nakhon Sri Thammarat and Phang Nga to join the rally.

“In all, there will be about 500 UDD supporters in total,” he said.

“There will not be any problem if they hold their activity within the law. What I am worried about is an attack between the two groups. The We Love Phuket Club will be at Provincial Hall at the same time, on the same day.

“As I have heard so far, the We Love Phuket Club and their fellow supporters will number about 1,500 people, but they can get a lot more with just a few phone calls,” Maj Chaisak said.

“With about 500 red-shirt supporters on one side, and more than 1,000 yellow-shirt supporters on the other side, if they attack each other, it will probably be out of control. That would be a big loss for Phuket,” he warned.

Nattapol Longkliang of the Thalang District Office, which is the government office directly responsible for Nai Yang Beach, where the UDD has announced it will hold its rally, said he had been informed that the red-shirt event on Sunday is aimed to achieve little more than affirm that red-shirt supporters are in Phuket.

“Like a symbol telling people that red-shirt supporters in Phuket still exist,” he said.

“The key red-shirt supporters in Thalang are in Baan Bang Ma Lao Moo 5 village, but there are others who do not agree with them. I do not think there will be enough supporters for any village in Phuket to be declared a ‘Red Shirt Village’,” Mr Nattapol added.

Sonthaya Laolang, village headman at Baan Bang Ma Lao, agreed. “Most of the people in Sakoo who support the red shirts are food venders, but Suchart Phetcharat and Surin Yotharak are the key red-shirt supporters in Thalang,” he said.

To this Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Sakchai Limcharoen, who is currently also Acting Superintendent of Phuket City Police, countered, “The ‘mainstay’ in Nai Yang is only a local co-ordinator. We should contact the red-shirt ‘mainstay’ for Phuket and ask them to make sure the protest is peaceful.”

On this advice, Vice Governor Somkiet thanked Phuket Santibaan chief Maj Chaisak for his input and assigned him to provide the vice governor with updates every three hours throughout the day.

“We cannot stop the UDD supporters from holding their rally, that is their right, but we can secure public safety. We have to ensure both groups protest in peace and not let them move anywhere else.

“We also need to make sure we keep an eye on the ‘hardcore’ members [sic] in each group to make sure they do not cause any trouble,” V/Gov Somkiet said.

He also assigned protection units to provide security at both the red-shirt rally and at Provincial Hall.

“The Phuket Provincial Police will set up two units. One to provide security at the UDD rally and another to provide security at Provincial Hall. The Thalang District Office must also set their force [of local volunteers] in uniform to help provide security at the UDD rally,” he said.

“We have to be fair to both sides. They all have the right to express their political views. Our duty is to ensure it all goes peacefully,” V/Gov Somkiet added.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket officials concerned about virus risk from undocumented migrant workers

Maya Taylor

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Phuket officials concerned about virus risk from undocumented migrant workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The discovery that 3 Thai nationals infected with Covid-19 returned from Myanmar and bypassed health checks and quarantine, has officials in Phuket on high alert. Over the weekend, it was discovered that a 29 year old Thai woman had illegally crossed from Myanmar and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 after admitting herself to a Chiang Mai hospital. 2 other women who worked with her have also tested positive for the virus.

Phuket’s deputy governor, Pichet Panapong, says news of the 3 infected Thai women who managed to enter Thailand without undergoing any health checks or mandatory quarantine, has officials on the southern island worried. He adds that local authorities are monitoring Burmese workers, calling on them to follow disease control measures if returning to Phuket from Myanmar. (It would appear he missed the bit about the 3 infected women being Thai, not Burmese)

In a report in the Bangkok Post, Pichet says officials are considering setting up a quarantine facility for any migrant workers already in Phuket illegally, adding that of the 59,900 registered migrant workers on the island, 80% are Burmese. The Thailand/Myanmar border is longer than 2,000 kilometres with hundreds of official and “natural” border crossings.

“People can also act as eyes and ears for the authorities. If they find something suspicious in their communities, they should alert immigration police or local police.”

Phuket has 21 alternative quarantine properties, offering over 2,500 rooms in total, but arrival numbers are low. It’s understood that only 11 people have applied to enter Phuket in the period December 4 – 12, and so far, only a single application has been received for January. There are currently 726 people in local quarantine, 20 in alternative local quarantine, and 4 people carrying out yacht quarantine. Since Phuket agreed to receive foreign-registered yachts, 6 vessels have entered its waters, with all passengers and crew carrying out quarantine on board, 6 kilometres from shore.

Pichet says that, at a meeting of the communicable disease control committee, the Thai Yachting Business Association submitted a proposal to manage cruise ships, and officials have also received a request to extend the opening hours of shopping malls over the New Year holiday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent

Bill Barnett

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Re-opening Thailand to tourism will be vaccine dependent | The Thaiger

Bill Barnett from c9hotelworks.com continues to follow the difficult journey of the Thai hospitality industry. Traditionally, now would be the start of the country’s highly profitable high season for the tourism industry. But not this year. Thai hotels find themselves in the middle of an existential crisis – either still closed, only partly open, or one of the few converted to limited ASQ traffic. The situation is dire, when you consider that between 15-20% of Thailand’s GDP is linked to tourism.

In a speech this week Thailand’s Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke clearly that only when a vaccine is approved, produced, and implemented, would the country open to substantial tourism. Given the current timelines and forecasts, this may not be likely until mid-2021 at the earliest, though subject to advancement if the process could be accelerated, which is unlikely.

For tourism and hotel stakeholders, the writing is on the wall that 2021, for the most part, will see a continued reliance on domestic travellers, and only in 2022 will there be a large-scale return in numbers of overseas visitors.

Given the winter spike in Asia, Europe, and North America of Covid-19, Thailand is not alone in relying on the vaccine to return tourism but the process will not be instant and the re-openings of borders will most certainly be staged.

HERE’s a list of 113 Alternative State Quarantine hotels.

The business reality for Phuket and across Thailand is to plan for the worst in the coming six months and only expect 2022 to see a notable uptick.

Currently, the hotel sector continues to advocate to the Thai government and Central Bank for debt and financing relief measures and assistance in a social security supplement to retain staff.

While it’s negative news, it at least allows for hotels to understand the challenges ahead, plan and adjust their operating models going forward. ‘Survive the downturn’ is the new mantra.

No vaccine, no entry. Read more HERE.

No vaccine, no flight. Read more HERE.

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