Qatar Air ready for Phuket; Sheraton Phuket eyes mice

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news about Thailand from around the world, compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community.

Qatar Air to launch daily flights to Phuket

PHUKET: Qatar Airways will expand and strengthen its first and business class offerings with the addition of Phuket to the airline’s Thailand routes. The daily service to and from Doha starts October 12.

This is a major advance for Qatar, which will put the carrier into closer competition with the Middle Eastern giants who also offer first and business class services to Thailand, particularly Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The route will fly through Kuala Lumpur and will make Qatar the first Middle East airline to fly to Phuket without transiting Bangkok.

Sheraton Phuket eyes mice

Asia Travel Tips
The Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket, a Luxury Collection Resort, has strengthened its focus on events with the appointment of Ms Luxme Wongs-araya as Assistant Director of Event Sales.

Based in the property’s Bangkok office, Luxme will manage MICE and group markets. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in sales and MICE markets, with over 12 years in the hospitality industry, the resort says.

Located in the Laguna Phuket resort complex, the Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket is a twenty minute drive from Phuket International Airport.

Tsunami drill sparks apologies

The New York Times
The Thai government apologized on Tuesday to a region just north of Phuket where thousands died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The apology was addressed Phuket’s neighbors in southwestern Phanga-nga province after a botched warning drill on Monday caused hundreds of villagers to flee their homes, convinced that another wave was coming.

Panicked villagers fled to higher ground after warning sirens went off intermittently, 30 minutes after a scheduled drill was completed in Ban Nam Khem, a village devastated by the 2004 tsunami.

There were also significant problems in Phuket where inability to hear the sirens in a number of important locations became the subject of letters to the editor of the Phuket Gazette and featured repeatedly in online reader forums.

The false alarms and unheard sirens were the latest hiccups in Thailand’s efforts to build a tsunami warning system that can be trusted.

The towering waves that battered Phuket, Phang-nga and other Andaman coast provinces on December 26, 2004, left 5,398 people dead and nearly 3,000 missing.

Assets seized from drug lord

The Nation
Nearly 40 million baht in assets have been seized from a drug dealer now on the run, including a luxury home in Chiang Mai where the man had been based.

Police are also looking into the illegal issuance of a Thai ID card to Somkid Aphimong-khollert – a person whose original nationality is unknown. He has also used other names such as Chow An Sin, Sow Som Kia and Lon Sing An.

The Thai ID cards granted to Somkid and his Burmese wife were issued by the Mae Fa Luang district office in Chiang Rai province.

Speaking at the home owned by Somkid, civilian anti-drug agents and narcotics police said the assets seized included, in addition to the home, three vehicles, an apartment, and stock documents worth 2.2 million baht.

Somkid has been sought by police in China, Burma and Thailand for a drug cartel operating in the three countries.

In related news, Krissana Pholanant, secretary-general of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, said “ice” was now becoming more popular among people with lower incomes. Previously, it had been popular mainly with wealthier individuals.

Cambodian worker shot dead in Thailand

The Phnom Pehn Post
The remains of a Cambodian migrant worker believed to have been shot dead in Thailand by his employer were repatriated yesterday, a border official said.

Chim Chamnan, chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations office in Pailin province, said the victim, 24-year-old Vath Vanna, was shot in the head by his manager on Saturday following a scuffle at a drinking party.

He said the body had then been burned beyond recognition in a bid to destroy evidence of the killing.

“The corpse was returned yesterday evening, and his relatives picked his body up,” he said. “We have written a complaint and sent it to our superiors to start a lawsuit.”

He said Thai authorities had arrested the suspect, who was being held in a prison in Chonburi province.

Burmese workers gaining confidence

IPS
When nearly 1,000 Burmese migrant workers launched a strike at a fishnet factory in northeast Thailand a week ago, activists expected it to be a short burst of anger. After all, this frequently abused labor force has often been gripped with fear during brief work stoppages in Thailand in the past.

But with the strike at the Dechanpanich Fishing Net Factory in Khon Kaen entering its seventh day on Tuesday, labor and migrant rights activists are portraying this unprecedented work stoppage as an emerging sign of boldness by Burmese migrants who have become better informed of their rights.

Such confidence is also reflected in the striking workers choosing a team of six to represent them at negotiations with the owner of the factory to address their demands. Among these demands was reinstatement of six ailing Burmese workers who had been dismissed from their jobs earlier this month, triggering the current strike.

Street vendor fruit not safe

The State
A survey of Bangkok’s ubiquitous fruit carts that sell snack bags filled with juicy watermelon chunks, papaya slivers and exotic treats such as pickled guava, has found the fruit also contains unsafe levels of bacteria and chemicals that help keep it looking fresh in the heat.

The Prime Minister’s Office launched a one-month campaign Monday to encourage fruit vendors and their suppliers to improve hygiene and provide consumers with safe, clean fruit.

Authorities warned that another survey will be taken at the end of the month, after which vendors selling contaminated fruit will face up to two years in prison and fines of 20,000 baht ($650).

The study, conducted throughout August by Bangkok City Hall, the Thai Food and Drug Administration and other health agencies, sampled fruit from 38 vendors across the capital, where baggies packed with chunks of watermelon or pineapple sell for 10 baht (30 cents).

Results of the study found that 67% of 153 samples contained unsafe amounts of coliform bacteria. Coliform is common in digestive tracts and does not necessarily cause sickness, but its presence may indicate fecal matter, E-coli and other disease-causing organisms.

More floods for Thailand

— Gazette Editors

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