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Pian “wins’ Patong election

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Pian “wins’ Patong election | Thaiger

PATONG: Former mayor Pian Keesin, leader of the Rak Patong Party (RPP), beat rival Songserm Kepsap of the Patong Progress Party (PPP) by just 147 votes in the replay of municipal elections held yesterday. The results have yet to be confirmed by the Central Election Commission, which declared the previous election void. Of the 9,213 Patong residents eligible to vote, 5,997, or 65%, turned out for the poll. This was slightly fewer than the 6,239 who cast ballots in the previous poll on February 8, the results of which were nullified by the Central Election Commission on June 11. In the new poll, K. Pian received 2,934 votes and K. Songserm 2,787. There were 153 spoiled ballots, while 123 people ticked the “neither” box for mayor. Even if the election results stand – never a certainty in a Patong election – K. Pian may find it difficult to run the town effectively because 15 of the 18 town council members elected on Sunday are aligned with his opponent, K. Songserm. Dr Prapa Kayee, Chairman of the Phuket Election Committee (PEC), told the Gazette that the amount of time needed to confirm the results would depend on how many complaints her committee receives. People have three days to lodge complaints, she added. The results of the last election were declared void on June 11 and both parties were issued “yellow cards” indicating that both had broken campaign rules but that no specific offender could be pinpointed. Details of the infractions proven were not made public. The election replay was called for June 20, just nine days later, apparently in an effort to reduce the window of opportunity for vote-buying. Dr Prapa said, “If there are no complaints, confirmation may take only 10 days from the day we file our report to the Central Election Committee (CEC). “But if there are complaints and the CEC announces that this election too was unfair, the CEC will consider issuing either yellow or red cards [to the violators] depending on the evidence presented,” she explained. “We want Patong to have a Mayor and we want this to be the last election,” she added. Sadly for Dr Prapa’s wishes, complaints have already been lodged. PPP deputy leader Somkiat Kuru said, “Some people have already filed complaints about this election with the police and the PEC, and there will be more. “The same things occurred [as last time], such as the circulation of rumors and the spreading of disinformation,” he said. K. Somkiat added that the election results seemed strange to him, with 15 PPP members being elected, but not their leader. “It’s unusual that the leader wasn’t elected,” he said. While conceding defeat, PPP leader K. Songserm predicted that K. Pian would have difficulty running the municipality with 15 PPP members dominating the council. Making the rounds this morning to thank those who voted for him, K. Pian told the Gazette, that he and his administrative team would hold a strategy meeting soon. His last stint as mayor ended in October 2001, when his town budget proposal was rejected by the council, effectively a vote of no confidence. He praised the PEC for what he described as a clean poll. “The PEC worked very well and was very strict in this election, so there were fewer mistakes. “If the other side wants to file a complaint, they’re within their rights,” he said. “But I am not worried because I was not involved in vote-buying.” He added that his improved numbers (he lost to K. Songserm in the first poll by 322 votes) were because the ballot papers had been improved and were easier for people to understand. “My votes came from people who spoiled ballots last time,” he said. He added that although only three members from his team were elected, he did not expect this to affect his administration. “Every member of the council wants to work for Patong. I will be a leader and will present my vision and my abilities. It is inconceivable that they would simply oppose [me] without any reason.”

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to reign in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now manacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need teo push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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