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Phuket placebos for cell phone ‘spamdemic’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket placebos for cell phone ‘spamdemic’ | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Fed up with the annoying SMS messages and breathless phone calls imploring you to buy awesome ring tones? The Thai government wants to help you, but here in Phuket, at least, don’t expect much interim relief from your mobile phone service provider.

“We plan to introduce something like a ‘Do-Not-Call Center’ in a bid to block unwanted SMS messages,” said Prime Minister’s Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey earlier this week.

Satit is also the chairman of the Consumer Protection Board.

In foreign countries, telemarketers and attention-getters are barred from contacting someone who has registered his or her phone number with a Do-Not-Call Centre.

The Consumer Protection Board (CPB), the National Telecommunications Commission, mobile phone service providers and the Thai Insurance Commission will discuss the issue on July 4 in a bid to identify ways of blocking unwanted SMS messages, Niroth Charoenprakob, secretary general of the CPB said.

The CPB is getting more and more complaints about the annoying phone spam.

“We’ll find out how advertisers get consumers’ personal numbers,” said Niroth. “The CPB will ask relevant agencies such as mobile phone operators to help block the SMS messages, and ask them to open hotlines for consumer complaints. We’ll also consider new regulations to guard people’s privacy.

“Our initial investigation found that some banks give customers’ numbers to insurance companies so they can sell policies via mobile phones. We also found that numbers had been sold to advertisers by cellphone operator employees and administrators of certain associations,” he added.

A recent survey by Assumption University showed that most people want the government to step in and stop the spam. Of 1,379 respondents, 71.6 per cent said the government should put and end to such intrusive marketing techniques as they disturb peoples’ lives.

Many respondents cited “infuriating” adverts for fortune-telling services, credit cards, games, photos and skin whitening creams.

Satit said he would be pushing the idea of a personal data protection law as a way of stopping the ‘selling-on’ of mobile phone numbers. “I expect the draft bill to sail through Parliament at its next session,” he said.

Meanwhile, it seems that Thailand’s mobile phone service operators, whose business is the sale of phone calls, don’t want to receive any. The Gazette’s efforts to reach the three providers in Phuket were futile. The AIS office, on Chanacharoen Rd in Phuket Town, insisted that it actually does not have a telephone number and told our reporter that anyone wanting to do business “must” walk in.

AIS does have a national “Call Center” (1175), but after the protracted music it defaults to ‘We’re busy; leave your number and we’ll call you back”.

DTAC, the nation’s second largest operator (after AIS), has an office on Thalang Rd near the post office in Phuket Town, but no telephone number. Like AIS, they accept walk-in inquiries only. Their national placebo is at 1678. Spam cessation requests are not on the menu.

True Move also does not publish a telephone number, but its placebo, at 1331, offers an opportunity to speak with a human being. He or she may or may not be able to assist, depending upon the complexity of the caller’s issue. Our reporter was unable to develop any useful information on spam control.

— Nation & Gazette Reporters

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

Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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