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Thai jails swamped with inmates

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket NEWS Hound

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

PHUKET: The number of prisoners in Thailand’s 143 jails is now well over capacity, with more than 200,000 inmates around the country. About 60 per cent have been jailed for drug offences, Corrections Department chief Chartchai Suthiklom says.

In a report rich in prison statistics published by Phuket Gazette partner newspaper The Nation yesterday, it is evident that the large and rapidly growing number of inmates is severely affecting the capacity of the government to manage the jails and the inmates.

Records show the number of prisoners has risen drastically, from 152,625 in 2006 to 206,988 this year.

The average number of new prisoners per month has risen from 16,000 last year to 17,600 this year.

The present ratio of staff to prisoners has now reached 1:20, but the “appropriate ratio” should be 1:5, Mr Chartchai says.

Even though most major drug dealers are now behind bars, the demand for narcotic drugs, especially ya bah (methamphetamine), remains strong, “so many people outside the jail are ready to become major new drug dealers,” the director-general says.

People want to be “new-face ya bah dealers because they can make a lot of profit from selling it,” he says.

The dealer cost of one tablet of ya bah is 3 baht, but they are sold in the street for 200 to 400 baht each.

“All new-face drug dealers are happy to take risks because the demand still exists, even though they know that they could face the death sentence,” Mr Chartchai concluded.

Protests over offshore drilling

Earth Times
Thousands of Thais formed a human chain on Samui Island over the weekend to protest a government concession to explore for oil just 42 kilometres offshore.

Villagers, students, fishermen, tour operators, hoteliers and environmentalists lined the 52-kilometre ring road on Saturday.

NuCastle (Thailand), a wholly owned subsidy of the London-based Coastal Energy Company, was recently granted a license to explore for oil in the concession area off Samui.

Fishermen vowed to block the company’s activities and an ecology conservation group led by the island’s governor threatened to file charges at the Administrative Court if the government refuses to review the concession by Thursday.

Although there have for at least 15 years been concession blocks for drilling off Phuket, none of the oil companies has yet to commence operations there. For the Phuket Gazette‘s report on drilling in the Andaman, click here.

Preah Vihear temple decision deferred

MCOT
Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya said Saturday that the decision by the UN cultural agency to postpone reviewing Cambodia’s development plan for the area adjacent to the ancient Preah Vihear temple by one year to 2011 did not represent either Thailand or Cambodia winning or losing.

Mr Kasit was responding to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s earlier remarks that Cambodia had achieved its goal when UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission (WHC) agreed Thursday at its meeting in Brazil to consider Cambodia’s management plan for the Preah Vihear temple, listed as a World Heritage site.

But the WHC deferred its discussion on the issue to its meeting in Bahrain next year.

Phuket property on show in New York

I-News Wire
The Thailand Property Showcase Company, headquartered in Hua Hin and with offices in Phuket, Bangkok, Chiangmai and Pattaya, has gone ‘big time’ and opened an office on New York City’s prestigious Park Avenue.

Specializing in the sale and rental of high-end Thai property, including inventory in Phuket, the firm is focused on resort real estate and has a website at https://www.thailand-property.biz

CEO Lee Phillips, who is based in Hua Hin, noted that his agency now has satellite offices across the Kingdom, situated in most of the popular holiday destinations, including Phuket, and that the firm became “international” with the opening of new UK offices last year and the New York office this year.

— Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket

Maya Taylor

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4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket. PHOTO: Booking.com

Phuket officials are setting aside around 4 billion baht to transform medical tourism in the southern province of Phuket, by developing a state-of-the-art treatment hub in the north of the island. The Bangkok Post reports that the Treasury department is planning to give the Public Health Ministry permission to use 141 rai of government land in the sub-district of Mai Khao, close to Phuket International Airport. It’s not the first time the proposal has come to light.

The concept is gathering support as Phuket battles to diversify its attraction beyond a tropical holiday island.

The aim is to develop Phuket as a world-class health and wellness destination, with facilities that will attract medical tourists from all over the world, as well as providing a high standard of treatment to the local population. It’s understood the facility will provide a full range of health services, including long-term care, and hospice and rehabilitation services.

The island already has a well-developed medical tourism market, but has been based around local hospitals and clinics linking up with foreign marketing companies in the past. “The International Medical and Public Health Service” has been conceived to create more long term financial security and diversification, and value-added tourism in Phuket, as the island has taken a heavy financial hit over the past 7 months.

4 billion baht medical hub planned for Phuket | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Phuket Andaman News

The plan was first suggested in 2017, by then governor, Noraphat Plodthong and confirmed by the director of Phuket’s Vachira Hospital, Dr. Chalermpong Sukontapol, in July. At that stage, the estimated budget was 3-4 billion baht. The director-general of the Treasury department, Yuthana Yimkarun, says the plot is being offered to the Health Ministry for free. The land is thought be worth around 1 billion baht.

Yuthana says the ministry will manage investment, with approximately 2 billion baht required for the first stage of the project. Construction of the facility is expected to be completed over 2 years.

Meanwhile, it’s understood that unused government land that is currently managed by various government agencies may be moved under the remit of central government, with a view to increasing its worth. According to the Bangkok Post report, just 4% of government land is directly managed by the Treasury. The other 96% is controlled by various government agencies. Yuthana says the plan is to increase the percentage of state-owned land under the Treasury’s management to 10% within 2 years.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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