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Sea gypsies prevent Phuket officials from demolishing homes

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Sea gypsies prevent Phuket officials from demolishing homes | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Officials are preparing to file complaints of land encroachment against Rawai sea gypsies after more than 200 of them gathered to prevent the demolition of two houses in Rawai yesterday morning.

“Suthep and Thawee Mookdee are the owners holding a chanote for this land,” said Legal Execution Department officer Chanothai Sukpen.

Mr Suthep says the land belonged to his ancestors and they had originally rented it out to the sea gypsies, who then built their houses there.

“After seeing that they were not maintaining the area well, we wished to stop renting to them, but they would not leave. That is when the problems started. We filed a court case and followed all the legal processes to remove them from the land. After an eight-year court case, we were finally granted victory,” said Mr Suthep.

A judge ruled in the land owners’ favor in August 2015 and ordered the sea gypsies to demolish their houses, but to no avail. In July last year, Legal Execution Department officers placed a court notice on the property, but no action has been taken by either side until now.

At least 50-100 officers from Chalong Police, Civil Defense Volunteers and others from Rawai Municipality were also present at the scene to prevent any unexpected violence. However, the current owners of the house, Maren and Anan Bangjak, were not present.

“We are not bullying them – in fact, they are bullying us. This is a court order, but they have no regard for that. We have filed two other complaints against them for land encroachment and for preventing officers from performing their duty,” said Mr Suthep.

Mr Anan’s wife, Suree Krasaechontharn, said that her family had been staying on the land for a long time, ever since it was a forest.

“My father had an arrangement with the land owner at that time. They said they would allow my family to stay here, but now they want us to move out. Where should we go?” asked Ms Suree.

Mr Anan’s daughter, Khwanjai Bangjak, also expressed her unwillingness to leave.

“There are 19 of us who live together in the house. I will stay here because I have nowhere to go. I will die here because I was born here. I will fight for my right to stay here and not allow the land owner to demolish my house,” said Ms Khwanjai.

The sea gypsies arrived at the site with pictures of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and chanted the Royal Anthem. Last month, four long-time residents were acquitted of land encroachment charges after coconut trees in the pictures of HM King Bhumibol’s 1959 visit to the area served as key pieces of evidence to clear them of charges (story here).

Sea gypsies have been claiming their right to the land where their forefathers first settled for years now, with several interventions by officials over the years (story here, here and here), but a long-term, universally accepted solution has yet to be found.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2 | The Thaiger

In today’s Thailand News Today…. The island of Phuket has a firm plan to get its residents vaccinated leading up to an October opening for tourists, the Thai PM backs up his police over last Sunday’s protest violence and Thai Airway’s employee union criticises the changes to employee contracts.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Phuket has a resident population of around 300- 400,000 people.

Before you go rushing off to book your plane tickets we’d stress that this is another in a long list of proposals that have not come to fruition and we’d urge patience until the Government approves the plans.

Meanwhile the island has taken delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine. Vaccinations started yesterday, with priority given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials exposed to Covid-19 patients.

On a broader note… Thailand’s Tourism Minister says he has asked the Public Health Ministry to approve a vaccine passport scheme aimed at reviving Thailand’s devastated tourism sector. According to the Minister, the government is looking to the World Health Organisation to issue a statement on vaccine passports before it makes a final decision on the matter.

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha has defended police action against protesters taking part in Sunday’s anti-government rally in Bangkok. Officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau used tear gas, a water cannon and rubber bullets in an effort to drive protesters back from the PM’s residence. The PM insists the actions were in line with international standards. He says that police did not violate the protesters’ rights.

Thai researchers are claiming that horseshoe bats are not responsible for transmitting the Covid virus to humans. A researcher with the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases-Health Science Centre, says that even though the bats have tested positive for a coronavirus, it is not the strain that is transmissible to humans, and it’s certainly not the virus that causes Covid-19.

As Thai Airways tries to sell new contracts and conditions to its remaining workforce, the labour union of the national carrier is challenging changes to the employment contracts, where Thai Airways employees are being asked to agree to changes as part of the bigger financial rehabilitation program.

But a union representative says the new contracts are unfair because it includes fewer leave days and shorter holidays. The union has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare.

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Phuket

Police investigate reports of women’s underwear stolen from Phuket homes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police investigate reports of women’s underwear stolen from Phuket homes | The Thaiger
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Police in Phuket are looking for a suspect who residents say has been stealing women’s underwear. Surveillance camera footage from a resident’s home shows a teenager driving through a neighbourhood, then stopping and stealing ladies panties that were hanging up to dry.

One resident told Phuket News that numerous residents in Thalang’s Baan Lipon area have reported missing underwear.

“Recently neighbors have been reporting that many items of their underwear have been stolen. Many residents are worried about the man hovering around here trying to steal underwear.”

A man told the Phuket News that his wife’s underwear was stolen and he’s now worried about his family’s safety. Another resident says he’s also concerned.

“As a resident in this area, I am worried about the safety of the local residents. Underwear has been stolen, something else could happen as well.”

In a similar case back in October, a 46 year old man was arrested for allegedly breaking into homes in Ratchaburi and stealing women’s underwear. Police says they seized 70 pairs of panties.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket pushes to open doors to vaccinated international tourists by October

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Phuket pushes to open doors to vaccinated international tourists by October | The Thaiger

Phuket is set to open its doors to vaccinated, international tourists by October, pending the government’s approval. The local government’s initiative, named Phuket First October, proposes vaccinating a majority of its population over 18 years of age in time for the high season. The move would allow thousands of vaccinated Europeans to enter Thailand, while locals would be protected from the virus symptoms.

Protecting the locals would include achieving herd immunity in time for reopening the province, which would need 70% of the population to be vaccinated. The local government’s goal would not wait for the government to roll out vaccines, and instead, use its own resources to vaccinate the public. Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, president of the Phuket Tourist Association told the Thai Enquirer over the phone, that they won’t stop pushing for ways to help the tourist destination survive.

“I think there must be a solution that balances controlling the outbreak and stimulating the economy.”

The island is also looking to waive the 14 day quarantine, with PM Prayut recently changing his stance by announcing that a quarantine waiver is being considered for those vaccinated tourists.

But the plan must be approved by the national government by April, if the province wants to open tourism by October 1. Initial research shows that around 250,000 citizens per month must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Initially, the province’s request was denied by the federal government, but business leaders are not giving up hope. Recently, they submitted a petition to PM Prayut to appeal the denial citing lack of income, mounting debts and increasing financial disputes due to over eight months without international or domestic flights.

The second wave has also plummeted tourism even lower than before, as the industry has seen a 93% drop in visitors since the same time last year.

Phuket has already kicked off its vaccine rollout as of yesterday, after receiving a delivery of 4,000 doses of the Chinese Sinovac jab. Priority is being given to 1,500 healthcare workers and 500 “at-risk” officials that have been exposed to Covid-19 patients.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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