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Swedish PM calls for ‘no warning’ probe

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson has called for an investigation into why no warning was issued in the hours before Thailand was hit by a tsunami that killed more than 5,000 people including, possibly, as many as 1,000 Swedes.

Speaking during a visit to Phuket with his counterparts from Norway and Finland, Kjell Magne Bondevik and Matti Vanhanen, Mr Persson said he had requested that the Thai authorities examine the circumstances surrounding the tsunami, and added that Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had “gone along with” the request.

Mr Persson said, “The investigation should ask, when it happened, what did the Thai authorities know? How was [the information] handled? Why wasn’t it distributed?

“There may be a good explanation, but there is a need for an explanation; so many people have died that it is a necessity.”

He continued, “It is important to say that many Europeans, including Swedes, want to come back to this wonderful country, but [their return] goes hand-in-hand with security and safety, and an investigation is part of that.”

Mr Persson added that lessons should be learned from the tragedy, giving building safety as an example. Someone, he said, should examine the reasons why some buildings were “completely eradicated” while others were left standing.

There have been reports that the search for bodies was winding down, but Mr Persson said he had been told this was not the case.

He said, “The Prime Minister has assured us that the search will continue … and he also said that if we ask the authorities to search in specific areas, they will support us in this.”

He stressed the importance of identifying bodies. “It’s in line with having as many [victims] as possible back home again, and having the possibility for those who lost their families, or part of their families, to make their farewells through a funeral,” he explained.

Mr Persson added that a joint Swedish-Norwegian consulate is to be established in Phuket, mainly to support the relatives of victims. He said, “Many people in Sweden and Norway willl want to come back here to have a time of reflection and mourning at the place where their loved ones died.”

Before coming to Phuket, the three prime ministers had stopped in Phang Nga, where they met PM Thaksin, Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula and the Minister of Natural Resource and Environment, Suwit Khunkitti, as well visiting Khao Lak and Wat Yan Yao, where thousands of bodies are being stored.

All three expressed their admiration for the forensic teams working to identify the deceased.

Norwegian Prime Minister Mr Bondevik told journalists that visiting the place where the corpses are being examined, “was like being on the doorstep of the realm of death”.

He added that Norway has donated a portable mortuary, due to arrive shortly.

Mr Bondevik joined the other prime ministers in expressing their condolences to Thais brereaved by the tsunami, and in thanking local people for their “generosity and compassion” in the immediate aftermath.

Interior Minister Bhokin gave journalists an insight into the magnitude of the task of recovering bodies.

“We’re still finding bodies every day,” he said, “Some have been found in the sea 200 miles from land, but we are continuing the search.”

K. Bhokin said that 1,900 unidentified corpses would soon be moved from Wat Yan Yao to Mai Khao centery in Phuket, where a centre would be established to identify them so they could be returned to their families.

He added that the Australian government has offered to pay for the repatriation of bodies of all foreigners, regardless of their nationality, but the Thai govenment would cover the cost of returning the bodies of Thai people to their loved ones.

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Phuket

Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket workshop helps residents cope with high stress brought on by the economic crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: ประชาสัมพันธ์ เทศบาลตำบลวิชิต

Hundreds of residents in Phuket’s Wichit subdistrict attended a workshop focused on reducing stress from to the pandemic-induced economic crisis. A psychologist was even on site to help those who had extreme mental stress and a Buddhist monk taught meditation techniques to reduce physiological effects of stress.

The event was planned in response to an online survey conducted by the municipality asking residents about how much stress they were experiencing from the economic climate. They found that some residents had serious stress issues brought on by the pandemic and financial problems, according to Wichit Mayor Kreetha Chotiwichphiphat.

“The loss of income due to the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 situation has resulted in some people in the area suffering serious stress, which can lead to serious mental health issues.”

Around 350 people attended the event. The mayor says it was the first step in caring for the residents’ mental health. Local officials plan to hold similar workshops in the future.

“It was a good opportunity for people to realise the importance of mental health and to learn techniques of how to deal with stress, which will help people to maintain their physical health and avoid developing mental health problems.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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