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Phuket resorts may benefit from Malaysian challenge

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket resorts may benefit from Malaysian challenge | Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.

PHUKET: In defiance of the rudiments of free-market economics, Thailand’s neighbor Malaysia is raising – not lowering – room rates at its five-star hotels in order to compete more effectively against Phuket and the rest of Thailand in the scramble for foreign tourists.

According to the country’s New Straits Times, Malaysian Hotels Association President Datuk Mohd Ilyas Zainol Abidin said yesterday that tourists should not worry because they still have “plenty of options” to suit their budget.

This comes after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s warning that hotel industry players should not under-value their services, as it would not necessarily bring in more business.

Hotel rates in Malaysia were the lowest in the Asia-Pacific, he said, in a situation where high-end tourists “would not mind spending more”.

Mohd Ilyas said the yield of some of the five-star hotels in Malaysia were also much lower than those in Thailand and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Though at first glance bizarre, Malaysia’s new pricing ploy might be right. Many Phuket hotels have quietly eased up rates despite Thailand’s political turmoil and in the face of the rising baht, yet they continue to report higher occupancies.

Peace talks elude Bangkok

Canada.com
Opposition activists in Thailand rejected a government offer for dialogue yesterday after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ruled out dissolving parliament and assigned a junior minister, Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat, to represent the government in the talks. This irked the opposition, who vowed to protest in Bangkok for at least two more weeks, with reinforcements coming in from the provinces.

“We will talk with the prime minister only,” one of the protest leaders, Jatuporn Prompan, told reporters.

The protest leaders say they will raise the intensity of their rally today and tomorrow. They might seek to make Abhisit’s job impossible by following him and blocking his every move.

More bomb blasts in Bangkok

The Nation
An assailant hurled a grenade at the head office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission in Bangkok on Saturday night. No one was injured. The blast damaged windows and ceilings. The attack has not been directly linked to the ongoing protests.

Meanwhile, the massive 20-kilometer-long red-shirt motorcade around Bangkok Saturday proved beyond doubt that many working-class and lower-middle-class people in the capital support the red shirts, as they came out in force to wildly cheer the caravan as if their liberators had arrived.

Stand-off between Thai government, demonstrators

Earth Times
A cat-and-mouse game is going on between protesters and authorities in Thailand to see who will lose their cool first and resort to force.

Government crackdowns on demonstrations is deemed political suicide in Thailand since May 1992, when newly appointed Prime Minister General Suchinda Krapayoon ordered troops to fire on a mass demonstration calling for his resignation and an end to military intervention in politics.

Jatuporn Prompan, one of the leaders of the the protesters’ United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), learned his tactics as an organizer of the 1992 demonstration. Sources close to the UDD say they are pursuing a similar game plan this month.

Malaysia wishes Thailand well

Asia One
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has expressed hope that political stability will return to Thailand. He said that as Malaysia’s close neighbour, he considered political stability in Thailand important to his country.

“This is an internal matter so I don’t wish to say much. We hope that this will not affect us. So far, it has not,” he told reporters.

Asked whether Malaysia would step up security at the border, Najib said that so far the crisis had not affected the security of the Malaysian people.

“The [current] security measures are sufficient but we will keep track of the situation,” he said.

— Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket begs Kolour attendees to come for Covid-19 testing

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FILE PHOTO: Kolour in the park was more pleasant in 2018 before Covid-19.

Health officials in Phuket put out a public statement this week compelling all foreigners who attended clubs and Kolour events to report for Covid-19 testing. As many might expect, the response has been lacklustre at best. Spreading the message around the foreigner and expat community in Phuket, the message is aimed at the multitudes of people, mostly foreign who attended Kolour and related events that turned into a Covid-19 superspreader event. Many foreigners have not come forward, much to health officials chagrin.

Online and on social media, foreigners and Thais shed light on why this urgent public health request is going largely unheeded. Foreigners fear the repercussions of coming forward, especially since Thailand is not allowing staying home or elsewhere in isolation if someone tests positive for Covid-19. Quarantine is mandatory, and with infection numbers exploding across the country, many fear the less-than-posh comforts of being quarantined in an emergency field hospital.

Cost is the other factor that likely is preventing foreigners from turning themselves in to be tested for Covid-19. While Phuket health officials may test people for free, anyone found infected with Covid-19 will be financially responsible for all the costs of their treatment and quarantine. Foreigners with limited financial resources, especially after a year of holing up in Thailand to ride out the Coronavirus, may resist reporting to authorities when they cannot afford the mandatory quarantine and medical treatment.

Perhaps recognizing this hesitation, the message includes a plea for all attendees to self-quarantine and self-monitor for any symptoms over the next week, even if they fail to report or test negative. The note also reminds everyone to wear masks in public at all times. The statement to the public also instructed anyone who attended any of the Covid-19 spreading nightlife events to report to the Acute Respiratory Infection Clinic area of Vachira General Hospital to receive a Covid-19 swab test.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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