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US experts lead counter-terrorism workshop

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PATONG: Some 30 Thai police and military personnel are undergoing a two-week “Military Law Enforcement/Boarding Officer” course conducted by US military experts at the Patong Resort Hotel.

The training, which began Monday, is the latest of many ventures funded by the US Defense Department’s Counter Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) for Thailand. The program, which in 2006 had a budget of about US$200,000 (more than 7 million baht), is financed by the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) office in Bangkok.

Attending the training are 10 officers of the Phuket Police Special Operations Unit, along with four officers from Kathu Police, six Marine Police officers, two Immigration Police officers, five Navy officers and four Crime Suppression Division Officers assigned to Phuket Customs.

Unlike previous counter-terrorism programs organized by JUSMAG in Phuket, this session focuses on threats at sea and port areas, with training in how to identify potential threats.

Capt Walter Bruce Watson, Junior Naval Attache at the US Embassy in Bangkok, told the Gazette the training will help make areas such as Patong safe for visiting sailors.

“The training that they provide helps make Phuket a safer place for American sailors who come and visit. They train police in how to identify bombs and what to do if they find one,” he said.

“We have always felt that Phuket is one of the safest places in Asia, but this just helps give us assurance that it is even safer than it was before,” he added.

US crews on leave in Phuket can number from 250 to 2,000 people at one time, he said.

Leading the training is Lt Junior Grade Trevor Blount of the United State Coast Guard’s International Training Division.

He said the coup in September had no impact on the training to be offered, which was scheduled before the coup, and has already been given in Singapore and on Langkawi Island in Malaysia

“There may be a few things that are specifically for Thailand, but nothing would change as far as the coup is concerned,” he said.

Capt Watson said the whole US side was excited to be in Phuket and was impressed by the way the island’s security forces worked together.

“If anyone else wanted to know how to do it right, we would tell them to come to Phuket,” he said.

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Tourism

Phuket governor calls for help in restoring island’s economy

Maya Taylor

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Phuket 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 today, Governor Narong Woonciew was addressing a Public Health Association forum, where he highlighted the economic crisis caused by a ban on international tourists. The latest figures show that Phuket has lost over 400 billion baht since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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. It’s understood the PHA seminar has brought around 10,000 people to Phuket, with the province hoping to launch further packages to attract more visitors.

“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 million being from outside Thailand. The airport usually welcomes around 300 international flights a day and is now only receiving around 80 flights a day since the ban on foreign tourists. Narong says around 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%. Only 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 for tourists who wish to visit the Kingdom, although critics say the strict requirements, coupled with the high cost of mandatory 14-day quarantine, make it unworkable.

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 he 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 stated that 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 Brough 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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Weather

Strong wind and waves this morning closes Phuket’s beaches, one swimmer rescued

The Thaiger

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Strong wind and waves this morning closes Phuket’s beaches, one swimmer rescued | The Thaiger

Phuket’s Rawai Mayor, Aroon Solos, ordered all beaches in the area to close after a foreigner was rescued this morning after being unable to make it back to shore. The foreigner was swimming off Ao Sane beach, just north of the popular Nai Harn Beach, when lifeguards were sent out to help bring him back to shore. The recent weather has been partly attributed to Tropical Storm Noul as other beaches areas around Patong have been closed since Friday.

Mayor Aroon ordered both the Nai Harn and Ya Nui beaches closed until further notice.

Noul crossed over the Vietnamese coastline in the early hours of Friday morning and tracked westwards into Laos, then Thailand’s north east, dragging in moisture from the Indian Ocean and intensifying the south-west monsoon.

The Chief of the Cherngtalay Tambon says that, once weather is more stable, the island’s beaches will reopen.

“All beaches in our area, Surin Beach, Bang Tao beach and other beaches, are closed today. We will reopen them when the weather improves.” Strong winds have contributed to falling trees and power outages across the island with one tree falling on the island’s main traffic artery, Thepkasattri Road, blocking traffic.

Officials are also warning road travellers to drive carefully after a car reportedly flipped over yesterday during wet conditions. The Thai Meteorological Department has also re-issued a weather warning today, saying that Noul has been now downgraded from a Category 3 tropical storm to a tropical depression.

The remnants of Noul currently sit over the Kancanaburi province after surging through Thailand’s north eastern and central provinces earlier today.

“Strong wind waves are likely in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. In the upper portion of both seas, the waves will be likely 2-4 meters high and more than 4 meters high in thundershowers. In the lower portion, the waves will be likely about 2 meters and in thundershower areas more than 3 meters high. All ships keep ashore through 20 September.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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