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Thais eye nuclear power; steroids as gay lube; drug bust

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket NEWS Hound

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

Is Thailand ready for nuclear energy?

PHUKET: The Nation reports that energy officials and private operators renewed their support for nuclear power development in Thailand at a seminar on Friday, amid resistance from protesters as well as their network.

At the seminar, titled ‘Thailand’s Exit from the Energy Crisis’, Chavalit Pichalai, a deputy director-general of the national Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO), said Thailand was ready for the new power source. But he conceded that Thailand had yet to embark on the legal, regulatory and public-participation processes that would pave the way for nuclear power development.

“The Energy Ministry is seeking adjustments to address the weak points, and will submit them to the Cabinet early next year,” he said.

The seminar was hosted jointly by the Energy Ministry and the Senate committee responsible for reviewing national energy policy.

Steroids smuggled as ‘Gay Lube Oil’

New Zealand Herald
A former bodybuilder has been jailed for five years for smuggling anabolic steroids into New Zealand from Thailand. The drug was disguised as ‘Gay Lube Oil’.

Mark William Rainbow, 43, pleaded guilty to 38 violations of the Medicine Act of 1981. The charges included possession of anabolic steroids used to boost performance and enhancement of image, and sale of unapproved medicines.

Rainbow was sentenced in Auckland District Court to 5 years for misuse of the drug and to 3 months for illegally importing, possessing and supplying, with the sentences to run concurrently.

Rainbow had marked the drugs as ‘Gay Lube Oil’, giving Customs officers the slip, and later relabeling it with the name of his trading company, SSIS Pharmaceuticals, for onward sale to customers.

Another drug smuggler busted in Bangkok

The Nation
A Filipino woman was nabbed at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport with 3kg of “ice” (crystal meth) worth 9 million baht, police said yesterday.

After a tip-off, police spotted the 44-year-old suspect, Carmen Arungo Donaerie, when she arrived at 1pm on Friday from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The police say they found the drug in her travel bag and that she confessed to collecting it in Mali before boarding the plane in Addis Ababa.

They police say she was a member of a West African drug ring and had traveled through Thailandfour or five times before.

TAT to splurge to meet targets

TTR Weekly
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reported this week that it would spend 45 million baht to boost tourist arrivals in the last quarter of this year, saying that the expenditure would enable them to reach a visitor target of 15 million and a revenue forecast of 43 billion baht for the year.

TAT Deputy Governor Prakit Piriyakiat said: “The budget will go to advertising campaigns, both domestic and international, to improve the country’s image.”

About 15 million baht will go toward the production of a 30-second spot on the theme of “Amazing Thailand Always Amazes You”. The commercial will be aired on BBC and the National Geographic channel, mainly to “correct” the impact of negative media during the April to May political crisis in Bangkok.

Rough estimates, up to the end of August, suggest the country gained 10 million tourists for the first eight months of the year. Private travel company executives believe 14 million is feasible this year.

Based on past trends, September is traditionally a poor month for inbound tourism, particularly Bangkok, but picks up by mid-October, delivering around 4 million visits in the last quarter.

Malaysia-Thai trade may reach US$20 billion

Business Times
Malaysia-Thailandbilateral trade could hit a record of US$20 billion if the current momentum continues until the end of the year, the outgoing Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob, said yesterday.

He said both countries recorded a total trade of US$7.2 billion from January to April this year, an increase of 45% compared to the corresponding period last year.

Malaysia’s exports to the country consist of electrical and electronics goods, crude petroleum, chemical and chemical products, machinery, appliances and parts.

Malaysia imports electrical and electronic products as well as automotive parts and rubber from Thailand.

Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$16 billion during the economic crisis last year and US$18 billion in 2008.

— Gazette Editors

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Phuket

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Marina Krasnopolska

WARNING! Content below contains photos of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

The flags on Go Teng poles were lowered on Monday, ending Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival and symbolising that the spirits have returned the heavens. The flags are raised at the start of the festivities each year at participating shrines, calling on the spirits to descend from the heavens.

This year, 2 men were electrocuted while taking down the festival flags. A steel pole with the flag touched a power pole, electrocuting and burning the workers as they were trying to lower the flags. They were taken to the hospital.

During the festival’s street processions and ceremonies so-called “mah songs” channel the descended spirits. They enter a trance-like state and many practice self-mutilation to channel the spirits. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and some say the mah song acts as a horse for the spirit to ride.

Some mah song pierce their cheeks and other parts of their body with steel spikes and sometimes swords or other bizarre choices (we’ve seen petrol pumps, javelins, samurai swords and kitchen utensils). During the street procession, they walk for hours with the self-inflicted piercings, seemingly posessed by ‘spirits’ and muttering all sort of strange chants, verging on mild cases of Tourette syndrome. A team of devotees for each mah song wipe away blood and keep the wounds clean. Some mah songs even slice their tongue for the street procession. Blood drips on their chest and the ground. Waiting bystanders line the streets hoping for the blessing of a passing mah song. Some mah songs carry a black flag.

The event is an annual spiritual ‘cleansing’ for those in watching the processions. Onlookers lining the street bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position as the mah song waves flags and banners over their heads. Businesses along the procession route often set up an altar outside their shop and mah songs stop at each one to do a short ritual.

The Phuket government gave the festival organisers the “okay” to hold this years event with hopes that it would increase domestic tourism and generate much-needed revenue after the Thai government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic crippled Phuket’s tourist economy. Before this year’s festival, Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana asked that the mah songs “limit the level of torturing.” He also called for a limit on the number of people at ceremonies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

His calls were largely ignored.

The spirits will again return in 2021 to Phuket again cleanse the island’s large Thai-Chinese community.

Photos of the 2020 Vegetarian Festival by Marina Krasnopolska.

Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The ThaigerPhuket's annual Vegetarian Festival lowers flags, spirits return to the heavens | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket told to prepare “response plan” in case of second Covid-19 outbreak | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

As Phuket awaits foreign tourists, city officials are told to prepare a “response plan” in case of a second wave of Covid-19. An official from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a workshop in Phuket today to discuss the risk of another outbreak as the country opens up to those on the Special Tourist Visa.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu says now that the country is allowing tourists (who are required to quarantine upon arrival) an infection “may somehow slip through.” He says a response plan needs to be in place in case this happens, adding that there should be corporation from the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Defense.

“If any tourists are found to be infected, the disease must not be allowed to spread among the people. There should be no panic, and public health officers will investigate the case. Tourist Police will track down the suspected person in an investigation with the Ministry of Public Health.”

Chote says all provinces – not just Phuket – should have a response plan. Although tourists must go through a mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival, Chote says there are some cases where the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than 14 days.

“There are a variety of cases. Sometimes, the infection does not show after 14 days, or even 15 or 16 days. Each situation is different.”

Recently, a woman in Koh Samui tested positive for the coronavirus 5 days after she was released from a Samut Prakan quarantine facility. Traces of the virus were found on gym equipment the woman used at the quarantine, leading health officials to suspect she was infected before arriving to the island.

“We urge Thai people to not let their guard down. Everyone must wear masks, wash their hands and take care of personal hygiene. This will help prevent them from contracting the disease.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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