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Phuket car used in mega-heist; foreigners suspected

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket car used in mega-heist; foreigners suspected | Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: Police say a Toyota sedan owned by a Phuket person is believed to have been the vehicle used by the robbers in Friday’s 12-million baht robbery. The heist occurred outside the Krung Thai Bank headquarters in Bangkok.

The car is said to have been a rental vehicle managed by a Phuket car rental company.

The Bangkok Post reports that police have identified two suspects, both foreigners, and that an investigation unit will travel to Phuket to talk to the car owner. The suspects are believed to be professional thieves working for a gang.

In the robbery, Wirat Panyapluattichote of Thaimart Store was at the bank depositing money owned by Thaimart when 12 million baht was stolen from his car.

He had picked up bags containing 25 million baht from an exchange currency trader and went to the bank to deposit it.

The cash was divided into bags containing 5 million, 8 million, and 12 million baht.

Mr Wirat carried the bag with 5 million baht into the bank. When he returned he found that a window of his vehicle had been broken and the bag containing 12 million baht was missing.

Golf victory for Pagunsan in Phuket

Inquirer sports
Juvic Pagunsan from the Philippines won the Mercedes-Benz Masters Thailand tournament on Saturday with a runaway seven-stroke victory while Thai teen prodigy Pinsawat Pariwat finished in a tie for fifth.

Starting the day with a four-stoke lead, Pagunsan closed with a five-under-par 65 at Laguna Phuket Golf Club for his first win on the Mercedes-Benz Tour.

Thailand’s Udorn Duangdecha claimed outright second after shooting a 68, while Lam Chih Bing from Singapore was one stroke further back in third position after carding a 67.

Thirteen-year-old amateur Pinsawat closed with a 70.

The event was sponsored by the Phuket Gazette and PGTV.

Nok Air snorkeling into Phuket

Nok Air’s Nok Fan Club members can buy a snorkeling package at Racha Island for 1,200 baht (for two persons) when they purchase standard fares to Phuket through the airline’s call centre.

Racha Island is located a few minutes’ boat ride off Phuket.

The promotion is available for two persons travelling together and both have to be Nok Fan Club members. The booking period ends September 23, or until the allotment of 1,000 packages is fully taken up. The travel period runs until September 30.

The roundtrip fare to Phuket from Bangkok is reported at “around” 2,980 baht per person.

Phuket resort laments

Brisbane Times
The upheaval that’s engulfed Thailand recently has hit tourist hubs hard, and Phuket’s luxury health resort Six Senses Destination Spa has not been spared.

Six Senses Managing Director Ana Maria Tavares last month lamented not only the Bangkok civil unrest that has dissuaded holiday-makers but a raft of other uncontrollable factors that have plagued Phuket and her resort since its opening in November 2008.

“We’re nearly empty and we should be about 60 per cent full,” she said.

“We’ve suffered the financial crisis, the global swine flu epidemic and then the closure of Bangkok airport because of the political situation there.”

Despite the bad-timing, Ms Tavares said the Phuket resort had won eight international awards last year.

Phuket not alone in road disgrace

The Nation
In Phuket, where motorists have been pleading for stricter enforcement of traffic laws for decades, the results of last week’s nationwide road safety survey come as no surprise:

– Many minors under 15 ride motorcycles in Thailand, although the law prohibits that.
– 78.9 per cent of road accident victims weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of their accident(s).
– Drunk driving is responsible for 31.6 per cent of all injuries and deaths.
– Speeding accounts for 31.1 per cent of all accidents.

Nurse Sirikul Kullieub from Khon Kaen Hospital’s Emergency Centre said a survey of 1,200 motorcycle accident victims at 12 hospitals around the country found that most were young persons:

– 37 per cent aged 19-30
– 14.7 per cent 15-18; and
– 7.1 per cent below 15.

The survey results will be used for proposals to the government for stricter traffic law enforcement, and for a plea that driver’s licenses for motorbikes of 100cc or more be issued to over 18s only.

State of emergency continues


Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said that it was too early to lift a two-month-old state of emergency in place across about one-third of the country, including Bangkok, because of fears of fresh unrest.

“We have to accept that even though the situation seems to be normal now, the problems of terrorism and security still exist,” Mr Abhisit said in his weekly television address.

He added that the government was “reviewing the appropriate time to lift the state of emergency.”

The emergency rule decree bans public gatherings of more than five people and gives broad powers to the police and military, but its visibility in current day-to-day life in Thailand is negligible to zero.

— Gazette Editors


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

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket visitor Covid-19 rapid antigen testing may end May 15

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: Covid-19 rapid tests may be discontinued in Phuket. (via Wikimedia)

In a live broadcast, Phuket’s Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong said officials will consider discontinuing Covid-19 rapid antigen testing for people arriving into Phuket after May 15. The interview from the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai yesterday seems to contradict a recent statement from the governor launching additional rapid testing from today.

Entry to Phuket since April 22 has been limited for travellers from red zone provinces, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. Anyone arriving without either of these would be screened on the spot with rapid antigen tests. Though originally offered for 300 baht per person, controversy arose over Thailand’s 2-tier pricing as it was announced that testing would be free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

The National Health Security Office provided 40 billion baht for testing in Phuket, allowing free testing for nationals, but as that funding is used up, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew announced that the testing will no longer be free for Thai people after May 15. Phuket does not have the budget for free rapid antigen testing so they will likely be forced to require payment after that date.

The current testing has seen a decline in positive Covid-19 infections, not finding any new cases for several days, prompting the government to rethink whether the current system of rapid testing those who are not vaccinated or holding a recent negative test certificate is worth the money spent.

Over 40,000 people have been tested since the program began April 22 until the current figures on May 5, with only 22 covid infections identified. Furthermore, 5 of those infections turned out to be false positives.

The vice-governor conceded that Phuket has Covid-19 outbreak problems with growing infections every day, but explains that the infections are from within the community and not from outside visitors. The latest infections stem in large part from gambling get-togethers without proper Covid-19 safety.

As of now, the rapid antigen testing will continue until the May 15 cut off, but government officials are still debating whether to continue testing and whether funding will exist for it after that date.

The NHSO has recently hinted that they will approve more funds to continue testing, a signal that had not been received before the governor’s announcement on Wednesday about the rapid antigen testing.

The vice-governor stressed that the situation is constantly evolving and that new information it’s shared frequently, and often out of local control. He urges everyone to pay attention to forthcoming announcements.

SOURCE: The Phuket News


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Phuket to rollout rapid Covid-19 testing campaign for visitors

Tanutam Thawan



Photo via Flickr

A rapid Covid-19 antigen testing campaign for visitors to Phuket is being rolled out to quickly detect cases in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. The island province is set to reopen to foreign tourists in July, that is if the virus is contained and if at least 70% of the population is vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The rapid testing campaign will start today and go until May 15. Visitors from Krabi, Ranong, Trang, and Phatthalung will be tested, according to deputy Phuket governor Piyapong Choowong. After May 15, those entering Phuket through official checkpoints will under Covid-19 tests funded by the National Health Security Office.

If daily new Covid-19 infections are more than 20 after the rapid testing campaign ends next week, then local officials will impose stricter disease control measures to help contain the virus.

In the recent wave of infections over the past month, there have been 493 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Phuket with 229 currently in treatment, according to the chief of the provincial public health office, Koosak Kookiattikul. To help contain Covid-19 in Phuket, the governor has also ordered local officials to find at-risk groups and carry out active case finding campaigns.

Despite the recent Covid-19 outbreak, Phuket is still scheduled to reopen under the so-called sandbox model, allowing foreign tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel to the island without undergoing quarantine. A mass vaccination campaign is being rolled out on the island province in an effort to vaccinate 70% of the population, reaching herd immunity, by the end of June. Expats in Phuket with a valid work permit will be able to register for a vaccine starting next week.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Tourism Minister says Phuket must reach zero infections before July re-opening

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Flickr

The Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn adds that, should new infections be reported once 70% of the island is vaccinated, the Tourism and Public Health Ministries will work together to decide what action to take.

Tourism operators in Phuket are desperately clinging to the hope that the island’s July re-opening will go ahead, with many businesses seeing it as their last chance. The so-called “sandbox model” would see the island reopened to vaccinated foreign tourists without mandatory quarantine. Phiphat says tourism officials hope to attract between 3 and 4 million international visitors.

The Bangkok Post reports that in the last quarter of the year, the model will be extended to other parts of the country, including Phang Nga, Krabi, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok.

“We have to speed up inoculations, particularly in Bangkok, to achieve herd immunity by the fourth quarter. The number of daily infections should be below 200 by the end of this month to restore international tourism confidence.”

Given that many people may need a lot of persuasion to travel, particularly if it means mandatory quarantine once they get home, there may be some raised eyebrows at the government’s decision to charge foreign arrivals a 300 baht “tourism fee”. Yes, you read that correctly…

Phiphat says that particular initiative will launch in January, with the proceeds used to create a fund to help the tourism industry survive any future calamities. He calculates that if Thailand gets 20.8 foreign tourists in 2022, the fund will have 6.2 billion baht to future-proof the sector.

According to the Bangkok Post, once Thailand gets its Covid-19 outbreak under control officials plan to re-open travel bubble discussions with neighbouring countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Laos, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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