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Tsunami blame report to be buried

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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BANGKOK (The Nation): The public will not hear whether the Meteorological Department failed in its duty to warn people about December’s devastating tsunami, Smith Thammasaroj, the chief of the investigation into the disaster, said yesterday.

K. Smith said a report into the incident might never be written.

He said that he would conceal a tsunami report from the public out of patriotism in order to protect national interests, because some 60 relatives of Western tourists who died in the massive waves in southern Thailand might use the information in their lawsuit against the government.

“I will not and I cannot reveal it – and the report may never be published … No way, because it has become a lawsuit issue and could cause much damage,” he said.

He added that billions of baht could be lost if the Meteorological Department were found guilty of failing to warn the public and tourists in the provinces struck by the tsunami.

Last month, 19 relatives relatives of tsunami victims from Austria and Germany filed a lawsuit in New York against the government for failing to provide timely warning. “They won’t [now] have the information to sue us,” said K. Smith.

Earlier yesterday, he told an audience of about 1,000 people that he believed that many lives would have been spared if the Meteorological Department had listened to 10 percent of his suggestions concerning the possibility of a tsunami hitting the Andaman coast in southern Thailand.

By heeding his advice, he said the department would have had 75 minutes to act before the tsunami hit.

“I don’t know how to punish him,” said K. Smith, referring to the then Director-General of the Meteorological Department, Suparerk Thantiratanawong.

“Did he know about [the impending tsunami]? I can’t tell you the result, because 60 foreigners are eying to sue [the government].

“That’s why I can’t close the case, and I don’t know when I can close it.”

K. Smith acknowledged that the government might be in a Catch-22 situation. If it claimed that the department did not know the tsunami was heading toward Thailand, that could be grounds for a dereliction-of-duty lawsuit.

If it were found that officials did know the tsunami was on its way, but did not warn the public, that would also lead to a lawsuit, he said.

“Either way, they can sue us. And these farang love to sue,” he said.

The day after the tsunami struck, one of the four officers in charge of the Meteorological Department told The Nation that senior officials had toyed with the idea of issuing a warning the morning of the tsunami.

They decided not to because they feared that if there were no tsunami, the warning would have negative repercussions on the tourism industry, the official said.

K. Smith is no stranger to controversy. He was dismissed as a scaremonger and forced out of the post of Director-General of the Meteorological Department after he issued tsunami warnings in 1993 and 1998, following strong earthquakes at sea.

In neither case was Thailand affected by a tsunami, though a wave that followed the 1998 earthquake killed some 2,000 people in Papua New Guinea.

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Thailand News Today | Protesters face arrest | Phuket “in a coma”| September 22

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Protesters face arrest | Phuket “in a coma”| September 22 | The Thaiger

Thailand News Today with Tim Newton. Daily news from around Thailand.

Struggling airlines to get reprieve through small loans, extension to fuel tax cut

Airlines in Thailand are being offered a financial lifeline, as the Government Savings Bank announces soft loans for carriers left struggling as a result of the current Covid-19 ‘disruption’.

The GSB is offering the loans over a 60 month period, with an annual interest rate of 2%. The bank’s chairman says the proposal will be put to Cabinet for approval.

Airlines have been left financially devastated by the fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with countries closing their borders, passenger numbers plummeting, and carriers forced to slash the number of flights on offer. The services available, including the food services, were also curtailed early on as a preventative measure but that restriction has since been lifted.

In a further effort to ease the financial crisis faced by Thai airlines, the Excise Department says it will extend the fuel tax cut for low-cost carriers by another 6 months from the end of this month.

Protest leaders face charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law and for installing the plaque

Leaders of the weekend’s pro-democracy protest in Bangkok are facing charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté laws and for installing a symbolic plaque at a “registered historical site”. Police filed complaints to between 10 to 16 protesters.

It’s unclear how many protesters will be charged, but a Royal Thai Police spokesperson says charges will be pressed against those who “pulled the strings.” Under Thailand’s lèse majesté law, it is illegal to insult or defame the Thai Monarch or royal family. Police say they will take the strongest legal actions possible against those who undermined the Monarchy, although earlier this year the Thai PM said that His Majesty had requested that such charges not be brought against Thai citizens.

Charges are also being brought against the protesters who installed a commemorative plaque in the forecourt of Sanam Luang, next to the Grand Palace. The Fine Arts Department and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration have filed complaints with police over the installation of the plaque, saying the protesters broke the law by causing damage to an archaeological site.

Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

The governor of Phuket has likened the southern province to a “patient in a coma”, as he pleads for help to restore its devastated economy. The governor highlighted the economic crisis caused by the ongoing ban on international tourists. The island’s international airport closed in April, cutting off the supply of international tourists, and cutting off the flow of international money coming into the island’s tourist economy.

The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The island’s economy is, either directly or indirectly, 90% reliant on a steady flow of international tourists, and has seen a massive tourist infrastructure boom over the past 20 years.

Governor Narong predicts the province will face similar hardship next year, and is calling on the government to organise conferences and other events that could attract more visitors to the province.

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader

Meanwhile, the owner of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort is facing a social media storm after condemning the current pro-democracy movement and one of its main organisers. Taking to Instagram, Vorasit Issara, owner of the five-star Sri Panwa Phuket Resort, singles out the female protest leader saying “she should be in prison”.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for?

Sharing a photo of Panusaya, he adds, “arrest this child.” Vorasit incorrectly asserted that Panusaya wasn’t Thai. In fact she was born in 1998 in Nonthaburi and IS a Thai citizen.

His post has since gone viral, prompting outrage from those who support the anti-government movement. A hashtag calling for a boycott of his Sri Panwa Phuket resort has taken off on Twitter, at a time when almost all hotels are battling for survival, especially on Phuket.

Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border

Myanmar is currently suffering a wave of Covid-19, causing concern in Thailand as its western border authorities bump up security measures and patrols.

Burmese authorities have been introducing increasingly draconian restrictions to control the sudden spread of the virus over the past 4 weeks. Whilst the case load is still relatively small, the concerns are focussing on the porous western borders of Myanmar onto adjacent Bangladesh and India, as well as the spike in cases in the largest city Yangon.

Yangon is now under a very tight lockdown as the city is quickly turning into the country’s hotspot of Covid-19.

There were 610 and 6 new deaths in the past 24 hours. Yesterday 671 new cases of Covid-10 were reported

Indonesia’s economy shrinks for the first time in 22 years

Indonesia’s economy will contract for the first time since the Asian financial crisis in 1997/1998.

Gross domestic product is forecast to decline over 1% this year according to the country’s Finance Minister. He said…

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic as the number of new cases each day continues to set records. The worsening outbreak prompted the renewal of social-distancing curbs in Jakarta, measures that had battered growth in the second quarter this year.

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Tourism

Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

Maya Taylor

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Phuket’s governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy | The Thaiger
Shuttered businesses along Bangla Road in Patong yesterday

The governor of Phuket has likened the southern province to a “patient in a coma”, as he pleads for help to restore its devastated economy. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew was addressing a Public Health Association forum, where he highlighted the economic crisis caused by the ongoing ban on international tourists. The island’s international airport closed in April, shutting off the supply of international tourists, and cutting off the flow of international money flowing into the island’s tourist economy.

The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The island’s economy is, either directly or indirectly, 90% reliant on a steady flow of international tourists, and has seen a massive tourist infrastructure boom over the past 20 years, including accommodation, tours, tour boats, tours buses and passenger vans, international shows, new roads, restaurants and rentals – all aimed at the many levels of traveller budgets.

Governor Narong predicts the province will face similar hardship next year, and is calling on the government to organise conferences and other events that will attract more visitors to the province.

“So far, the province has invited 15,000 village health volunteers in the south to travel and spend time in the province while today’s seminar is bringing in 10,000 attendees and followers and will relieve some of the hardship.”

Meanwhile, PHA president Prapat Thamwongsa, says the forum gives those attending the opportunity to share knowledge and advice on tackling the spread of disease, with presentations and competitions addressing all public health activities.

Phuket usually receives around 14 million visitors every year, with around 10-11 million arriving from outside Thailand. The airport usually welcomes up to 300 international flights a day but is now only receiving around 80 flights a day, since the ban on foreign flights started in April. Narong says an estimated 40,000 of the island’s workers are now unemployed, while those still employed have taken hefty pay cuts of anything from 20% to a hefty 90%. Less than 30% of the province’s hotels are currently open.

“Phuket is like a patient in a coma in ICU. So, it is necessary for all stakeholders to help restore Phuket as quickly as possible.”

The Cabinet recently approved a long-stay visa (the Special Tourist Visa) for tourists who wish to visit the Kingdom, although critics say the strict requirements, coupled with the extortionate cost of the mandatory 14 day quarantine, make it unworkable. The new visa is also insisting that travellers will have to arrive on restricted charter or private jet flights, adding further cost and restrictions.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader

Maya Taylor

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Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sri Panwa Phuket Resort - Sri Panwa Phuket

The owner of a luxury resort on the Thai island of Phuket is facing a social media storm after condemning the current pro-democracy movement and one of its main organisers. Taking to Instagram, Vorasit Issara, owner of the five-star Sri Panwa Phuket Resort, singles out protest leader, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul for his disapproval, saying “she should be in prison”.

“This bullshit has got to stop. She is not Thai. Who is she working for? This one needs to be in prison”.

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | News by The Thaiger

Sharing a photo of Panusaya, he adds, “arrest this child.” Vorasit incorrectly asserted that Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul isn’t Thai. In fact she was born in 1998 in Nonthaburi and IS a Thai citizen.

His post has since gone viral, prompting outrage from those who support the anti-government movement. A hashtag calling for a boycott of his Sri Panwa Phuket resort has taken off on Twitter, at a time when almost all hotels are battling for survival, especially on Phuket. The hashtag #แบนศรีพันวา (Ban Sri Panwa) is trending on top on Twitter.

Digging up the 38 year old’s past indicates hissupport of Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and the coup that brought him to power in 2014. Speaking to Coconuts Bangkok, Vorasit denied being “out-of-touch” and “elite” and said he’s unconcerned about the boycott call.

“If you don’t love (the political) establishment, you better not come to my resort. Don’t be my guest,” he said in the Coconuts story.

Others are now using Google reviews to attack the property, accusing Vorasit of supporting a dictatorship.

The anti-government rally held in Bangkok, at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus and the Sanam Luang royal parade grounds over the weekend, drew up to 30,000 people in Bangkok’s drizzly wet-season weather. Panusaya was one of the protesters who organised the event and was the first, in July, to read out a 10 point manifesto that, for the first time, openly mentioned the reform of the Thai monarchy.

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | News by The Thaiger

Sri Panwa Phuket getting social media flak after owner criticises pro-democracy protest leader | News by The Thaiger

Vorasit’s comments come as the newly-crowned Miss Grand Thailand also faces a backlash, after speaking up in support of anti-government protesters. Pacharaporn Chantarapadit has been hit with racist insults on social media after condemning the current administration and saying she stands with the protesters.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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