Phuket meeting to urge end to protests

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PHUKET: More than 1,000 local tourism sector representatives and tour operators will gather in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya and Samui tomorrow afternoon to urge anti-government red-shirt protesters to end their political rallies.

The protests resulted in a sharp drop in foreign tourist arrivals and caused a revenue loss of about 10 billion baht, Charoen Wongananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association said.

Hat Yai to trump Phuket for Songkran?

Hat Yai is claiming fully-booked reservations for the upcoming Songkran festival, compared to Phuket where reservations are low. Songkran is expected to circulate around 200 million baht in spending.

Phuket Tourist Association (PTA) president Somboon Jirayus said yesterday that tourism in the resort province this year has seen only 60-70 per cent of the check-ins for the same period last year. Mr Somboon added the country’s ongoing political turmoil has slowed down tourism activity considerably in Phuket.

Around 50 per cent of the charter flights from China to Phuket have been cancelled. The PTA president said new bookings have not been made either. He said the continuing unstable political situation is likely to drive tourists to travel to other areas.

Thai Protesters persevere

Tan Network
Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan said that Thailand’s red-shirt movement will try in every way to accomplish its goal before the Songkran holidays. However, if they do not succeed by that time, protesters are prepared to prolong the rally. The red-shirt leaders also dismissed rumors that their group will end its rally on April 6, which is Chakri Day, when the Royal Family’s dynasty is celebrated. He also warned that if the military presence remains in Bangkok, more violence will break out and the capital will end up in the same way as the insurgency-ridden southern provinces.

Security Act extended in Thailand

The Jakarta Post
The Thai government has extended use of a stringent security law in the Bangkok area until April 7 as anti-government protests enter a third week. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban says the Cabinet voted Tuesday to approve an extension of the Internal Security Act, which was initially invoked ahead of the protests that started March 12.

The security law allows the prime minister to use the military to restore order if necessary. Suthep said the security law also will be invoked in the seaside town of Hua Hin from April 2-6 for a meeting of Asian leaders from countries that border the Mekong River.

Thai treatment of migrants poor

Asia Times Online
Thailand and Malaysia have been singled out again in recent human rights reports for their systematic and unchecked exploitation of their large migrant worker populations. Both countries depend on foreign workers for economic growth and cost competitiveness, but neither has taken sufficient steps to curb widespread abuses.

Citing national security concerns, Thailand announced in 2008 that its 1.3 million registered migrants would have to verify their nationality with officials from their own government, which would then qualify them for a temporary passport and a Thailand-issued work permit.

About 850,000 migrants registered with the Thai government by the March 2 deadline, but an estimated one million more undocumented workers from Myanmar failed to do so. Deportations began shortly after the deadline despite Myanmar’s politically volatile situation.

No thaw in Thai-Cambodia relations

Earth Times
The deputy head of Cambodia’s armed forces has accused the country’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is in France in self-imposed exile, of conspiring with Thailand to destabilize the nation. General Chea Dara, posted at the flashpoint Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian-Thai border, made the allegations in a speech to a crowd of 1,000 students and government officials in Phnom Penh.

“The betraying opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has colluded with Thailand and sold himself to Thailand to let Thais invade Cambodia,” he said. Chea Dara was referring to events in mid-2008 as tensions rose at Preah Vihear after the 11th-century temple was registered by the UN cultural body UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. That move angered some Thai nationalists who claim the temple for Thailand.

— Gazette Editors

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