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Sunday Summary / update on Thai Crisis

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Sunday Summary / update on Thai Crisis | Thaiger

PHUKET: The Phuket Gazette‘s own correspondents and Nation partner reporters in Bangkok join our Phuket-based NEWS Hound team this morning to present a Sunday snapshot of the turmoil in Bangkok and some glimpses into its increasingly adverse impacts.

24 dead as army told to “shoot on sight”

Since violence re-erupted in Bangkok on Thursday with the shooting of renegade army general Seh Daeng, 24 people have been killed, bringing to 54 the death toll since March 12 when the protests began. More than 1,100 have been injured, including more than 150 during the past three days.

The Guardian reports this morning that the Thai army has declared parts of Bangkok “live-fire zones”, warning that anyone found entering certain roads in the capital will be shot on sight.

The move came as one of the leaders of the red shirt protesters said there would be “civil war” if the army did not pull back and declare a ceasefire.

Prime Minister defends policy

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva last night defended the government’s protest-containment policy, arguing it was the best way to address Bangkok’s security situation.

The premier insisted there would be no turning back, although Natthawut Saikua, one of the protest leaders, asked for an immediate cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table.

Noting that there are currently about 6,000 protesters in the Rajprasong rally area, he confirmed that the roads around and into that 4-5 sq-km area have been sealed off since Thursday, with joint police/military checkpoints set up to prevent anyone entering it.

“This is to pressure them to end their rallies and to minimise losses. Authorities [have] only set up barricades around the Rajprasong area and they have not yet entered inside,” the premier said.

“However, there are groups of armed militants out there, trying to stop the security forces from doing their work. I insist that our containment policy is necessary as we cannot allow the movement to use armed militants to overthrow the government.

“This policy is currently the only way to restore law and order in this country, as we earlier attempted to use other methods, such as holding negotiations [but they failed]. Now we need to have the protesters end their rallies if we wish to see minimum losses.

“As long as there are rallies, there will be attacks from armed militants. Hence, I asked the public to cooperate with the authorities by getting themselves out of the current conflict so that officials can do their work on your behalf,” the premier said.

Journalists in firing line

Three journalists suffered gunshot wounds on Friday while covering the explosion of violence in Bangkok, where troops have opened fire during tense confrontations with “Red Shirt” demonstrators in the heart of the city.

AFP reports that these incidents prompted media watchdog Reporters Without Borders to call on the army and the protesters “to guarantee the safety of the journalists” in the capital.

“The confusion reigning in various parts of Bangkok does not suffice to explain the shooting injuries sustained by several Thai and foreign journalists since April… Both camps must comply fully with the requirements of international law, according to which journalists cannot be military targets,” it said in a statement.

Thai economy hammered

Bloomberg notes that the cost to protect Thai government bonds from default surged by the most in 15 months on Friday, and the baht fell as the death toll from the protests rose.

“The situation looks really bad and investors may want to sell Thai assets,” said Minori Uchida, senior analyst in Tokyo at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd.

“The protests have lasted quite long and this will hurt the economy. The baht may stay under pressure,” he added.

The baht fell 0.2 percent to 32.39 per dollar and reached 32.43, matching a one-month low touched on May 6. It may weaken to around 32.50 in the next few days, Uchida says.

Bangkok retailers hammered

The Star Telegram reports that businesses in the red shirt protest district in Bangkok are losing 174 million baht a day and some 20,000 employees have been sent home, with or without pay, or relocated, according to the Rajprasong Square Trade Association.

The Thai Restaurant Association reports that 1,500 member restaurants and small food outlets in Rajprasong and adjoining districts have temporarily shut down.

The government has already granted extensions on deadlines for paying corporate, value-added and land taxes, and other proposals, including soft loans to the ailing businesses, are being considered.

The businesses are conducting offsite sales and delivering their goods as a way to cope in the meantime.

Many of the smaller retailers, unable to afford a move to other locations or to wait for government aid, have gone out of business entirely.

UN pleads with Thailand

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over the mounting violence in Thailand yesterday and urged the government and protesters to return to talks, according to a UN statement.

The Bangkok Post reports that he called on opposing sides to avert bloodshed and resume talks.

“The Secretary-General is following with growing concern the rapidly mounting tensions and violence in Thailand,” a statement issued by his spokesman said.

“He is saddened by the reports of numerous civilian deaths, including journalists, as a result of the latest clashes between protesters and security forces….

“He appeals to both the protesters and the Thai authorities to do all within their power to avoid further violence and loss of life.”

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

For travellers to Phuket, testing is out, quarantine is in

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong (via Facebook)

The on-again-off-again plans for testing people for Covid-19 as they arrive in Phuket will be replaced by quarantine after May 15, according to Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong’s latest announcement. In an online video broadcast last night, the vice governor confirmed the new scheme after Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew first mentioned it in an executive meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday.

There are now 25 provinces on the Phuket red zone list that they instated on April 22, with anyone arriving from those places required to have proof that they are either fully vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19 within the last 72 hours. Without proof, people have to take a rapid antigen test to confirm they did not have Covid-19 before they would be allowed on the island. The test was first set to be 300 baht for everyone, and later controversially made free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

There had been some back and forth with budget concerns of being able to provide the mass testing and who would pay how much for continued testing. Perhaps requiring people to quarantine in Phuket is cheaper than testing them when they arrive (cheaper for Phuket officials anyway).

The original scheme was set to expire May 15, and announcements were made about extending the plan and stopping testing right away. For now, this debate seems to have settled on replacing the testing with a mandatory quarantine upon entering Phuket.

The vice-governor explained that the rapid antigen test will continue through May 14, and then starting May 15, anyone who arrives without a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in Phuket will be required to quarantine for 14 days. They set a goal of zero new infections by the end of the next two weeks. And he stated they are committed to doing whatever it takes as “Phuket cannot continue with this risk”.

Speaking to The Phuket News… “We want to send a sign to the country that we are cleaning up our province. The 3 vice governors [in Phuket] have been ordered to take care of each district by cooperating with local administration officers as well as community leaders to do proactive screening,”

After announcing the quarantine plan for Phuket, the vice governor spoke confidently that in the near future the island will have enough jabs to vaccinate every person on the island. Religious leaders from any faith are currently being vaccinated because of their general proximity to people during religious ceremonies and practices.

Vice Governor Piyapong pled with people with the people of Phuket who were on the fence about Covid-19 vaccinations, anti-vaxxers, or those otherwise resisting getting the jabs needed to reach herd immunity.

“If you are still deciding whether or not to get vaccinated, please come to get vaccinated”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Phuket

We’re looking for a Video Editor/Production Assistant in Phuket

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The Thaiger is seeking a full time video editor and production assistant for a new project based in Phuket. The role is open to a Thai national but with great English skills as well. You will need to be able to work to deadlines with a crazy bunch of stressed out news hosts, guests and the rest of The Thaiger team.

You’ll also need a general knowledge of the Thai news cycle as the content will be largely centred around daily news and current affairs. Knowledge of social media, and especially YouTube, will be an advantage.

Prior work in the TV or video production industry would be a requirement; we couldn’t care less about your educational qualifications. The role would be Monday to Friday.

The work hours would be earlier in the day, probably starting around 7am. There may be some occasional travel to Bangkok involved as well. Salary would be between 30-40,000 baht per month, depending on experience with opportunities for bonuses. The initial contract would be for 3 months, renewable.

If you are interested, or know someone who could fit the job, send an email to THAIGER EDITOR at info@thethaiger.com

 

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