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Phuket drug detectors under fire

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The Science and Technology Ministry is set to test the effectiveness of the Alpha 6 ‘molecular resonance’ substance detector in use by anti-drug agencies in Phuket.

The move comes after tests on the similar GT200 bomb-detection device revealed it was ineffective.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said double-blind tests carried out by the Science and Technology Ministry showed the GT200 succeeded in detecting explosives in only four out of 20 tries.

“The result has no statistical significance. The performance is equivalent to random chance,” he told reporters last week.

PM Abhisit has ordered a review of the use of all ‘molecular resonance’ bomb and drug detectors following the test results.

“Scientifically speaking, dogs have already been proven to be more efficient than the bomb detectors,” he said.

Any agencies willing to continue using such detectors would do so ‘at their own peril’, he added.

Critics of such devices claim they are little more than dowsing rods.

Makers claim the devices are powered by static electricity from their user and can detect specific contraband substances from up to 300 meters away.

Thailand has spent between 700 and 800 million baht to acquire some 1,000 dowsing devices in recent years, Mr Abhisit said.

All agencies using such gear must report to him how many devices they have, how they use them and how much they spent for the discredited technology, he said.

The science ministry will test the Alpha 6, which sells for around 400,000 baht, with the same techniques used to examine the GT200.

Of the eight devices in use in Phuket, the Interior Ministry bought six and Phuket Provincial Office two. They are used by drug suppression units at a number of police stations on the island including Tah Chat Chai, Phuket City, Kathu and Thalang as well as by the Phuket Provincial Police.

Former Phuket Governor Preecha Ruangjan instigated purchase of the island’s first two devices in early 2009.

All eight devices have been in use for around two months, following a launch ceremony in late December 2009.

Police at Tah Chat Chai Checkpoint are using their Alpha 6 in an effort to detect drugs coming onto the island.

“Though I have never heard a report of officers finding drugs with this device, it is still in use at the checkpoint,” Tah Chat Chai Police Superintendent Sakchai Limcharoen said.

Wirote Suwanwong, who heads the provincial drug suppression unit, said his men have been using two of the devices and insisted they were effective.

The devices had been used in the recent seizure of 2,080 ya bah pills, Mr Wirote said, though he admitted the drugs were found in a small room.

“If they didn’t work I would have reported that fact to Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop,” he said.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

 

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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 restrictions and bans to stay in place until end of May

Tim Newton

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Phuket’s list of current ‘Covid’ restrictions have been extended until at least May 31. All the current levels of restrictions will remain until the end of the month after the Phuket Governor announced the continuation of restrictions this afternoon.

Daily new infection numbers continue to add to the island’s total of 556 since the start of April. The island’s latest wave started after a series of events, mostly Bangkok partygoers flying down for parties at Café Del Mar in Kamala, Illusion and Shelter, both in Bangla Road. The parties were organised by a Thong Lor based events company called Kolour. The daily numbers, whilst relatively stable, have not been going down as officials were hoping.

The announcement also puts any hope of a July 1 ‘quarantine free’ tourism opening in severe doubt. The island’s vaccine roll out has also slowed since the initial flurry of enthusiasm. Only 22% of Phuket’s population has currently been vaccinated (a long way ahead of the rest of the country) whilst the minimum vaccination level has to reach 70% according to the Government before they will entertain the ‘Sandbox’ opening proposal.

Entry to the island, by road or air, will remain restricted and anyone without proof of vaccination or a current PCR Covid test (within 72 hours) will have to do a full 14 day quarantine period (after May 15). The rapid Covid tests that were being conducted at the airport and Tha Chatchai Checkpoint are being stopped from this Saturday.

Notably, following the story of foreigners in Cherngtalay being fined 6,000 baht each for hosting a party at their home on Sunday night, the ban on gatherings and parties will continue.

Meanwhile, the island has reported its first death during the third wave of cases since the start of April, and a new cluster of infections in the Phoon Pon district in Phuket Town. The man that died was a 71 year old man who died yesterday morning.

Phuket restrictions and bans to stay in place until end of May | News by Thaiger

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 infections cast doubt on plan to reopen Phuket July 1

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Phuket may not be ready to welcome back visitors July 1st.

With surging Covid-19 infections, the original plan for Phuket to reopen the international border to tourism on July 1st without quarantine may be unlikely. The governor warned today that the plan may be in jeopardy if they don’t reach the proposed May 15 goal of reducing infections to less than 10 each day. Governor Narong Woonciew called on everyone to work together to keep the infections down as the current rate of 10 to 15 per day will almost definitely delay the sandbox plan for international visitors to arrive in Phuket without quarantine in July.

Daily infections are on the rise in Phuket and high-risk people in local quarantine are still spreading infections, according to the provincial health officer’s assessment of the Covid-19 situation. During proactive screening an active case finding, new clusters of infections continue to be uncovered, a problem that has been attributed to continued partying and social gatherings that violate current Covid-19 restrictions. The health officials warned that, as a result, more aggressive actions may be necessary to control the spread of the Coronavirus in Phuket if it is to reopen in July.

Under the current restrictions of the Covid-19 emergency decree, even two people that aren’t from the same household joining together for socializing or mingling could be considered a gathering and punishable with legal action. Officials are speaking out about the threat of more Covid-19 outbreaks due to large gatherings, citing several events that were broken up recently.

One such group in Phuket garnered a lot of attention online with many people surprised that it was considered a gathering and busted up. A group of six British and Thai people that the police raided yesterday at a home in Thalang were reportedly drinking and celebrating. This is a violation of the disease decree and local Covid-19 safety measures, and 2 British nationals were charged a 6000 baht fine each.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Patong

30 year old Thai woman found dead in car in Patong from apparent suicide

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Photo via The Phuket News

The Thaiger acknowledges that the names of the family and the contents of a suicide note were published in error in an earlier version of this story. We have spoken to the writer and can assure readers that this will never happen again. We apologise for the distress caused.

A 30 year old Thai woman has been found dead in her car, in Patong, from an apparent suicide. The woman’s car was parked by the side of the Sirirat Road, which links Patong and Karon. Police and rescue workers arrived at the scene to find the body of ‘Kanokwan’ (surname withheld), slumped in the driver’s seat of a Phuket-registered Honda Jazz.

Police say they found an electric pan with burnt charcoal behind the driver’s seat in the back. They say this was the cause of death as she likely died from asphyxiation. They also say they found a suicide letter.

The woman’s mother ‘Boonlap’ says that she has accepted her daughter’s death was from a probably suicide. Her body was taken to Patong Hospital for further examination before being released to her relatives for a funeral.

It is not known whether the Covid pandemic had any effect on Kanokwan but job losses, bankruptcies, sickness and fear are just a few of the side-affects during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For many in Thailand and all over the world, this has a profound impact on the mental health of everyday people. The suicide rate in Thailand has also seen a spike, with 22% more suicides recorded in the first half of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. A sharp increase not witnessed since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.

Even before the pandemic struck, Thailand was on record as having the most suicides of any country in SE Asia. As per WHO data, in 2019 Thailand’s suicide rate was 14.4 per 100k population, compared to a global average of 10.5 per 100k population.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand at their 24-hour hotline 02-713-6791 (English), 02713-6793 (Thai) or Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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