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Villagers protest against Ao Por Marina

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET CITY: About 40 people from six villages in Tambon Pa Khlok protested at Phuket Provincial Hall this morning about damage to coral in Ao Por caused, they said, by Italian Thai Development Co, which is constructing a 95-million-baht marina in the bay.

The villagers presented an official letter of complaint about work on the project, which they said is damaging healthy coral beds and thereby threatening the fishing industry on which they depend.

The Governor was at a meeting at The Metropole hotel when the protesters arrived, so they were received by Phuket Chief Administrative Assistant (Palad) Nivit Aroonrat.

A member of the Phuket Local Fishermen’s Association read out the protest letter before handing it to K. Nivit. The protesters dispersed after he promised to pass it to the Governor and to investigate charges that the construction work was damaging coral.

K. Nivit told reporters he would send out divers to check whether there was healthy coral in the area.

“If the coral is already dead, then work on the project should continue. The head of the Marine Office told me there was no healthy coral in the area, but we will send out divers on Tuesday to reconfirm this,” he said.

Phuket Marine Office Chief Surin Tirakulpisut said he himself took part in a dive in the area, after construction began, as part of a review of the project’s Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and could confirm that the state of the coral in the area matched the description in the IEE.

“About 4% to 5% of the construction area is covered with dead coral, as stated in the IEE. It’s normal when they have to dredge out a shallow area. I can’t block this project – it’s all been done according to procedure, and has been approved by the IEE committee,” he said.

Photos of healthy coral presented by the protesters must have been taken outside the construction area, he said.

However, Rattanaporn Jaengjaidee, an adviser to the Fishermen’s Association, took issue with statements that all the coral in the area was dead, citing what she said was a February 8 report from the Phuket Marine Biological Center stating that there is still “plenty” of live coral in the construction area.

She said that the decision to approve the project was based on IEEs conducted 10 years ago. “But the coral has grown back [since then] and is more plentiful than before,” she said.

K. Rattanaporn told the Gazette that the protest was sparked by comments made by Gov Udomsak to the Thai-language daily newspaper Khao Sod.

“He said that the coral reefs in the construction area were all degraded, so it would be better to dig them out and build a marina that would make money.

“The villagers can’t accept this because they think it shows that the Governor doesn’t care about their livelihoods. They have always been able make a living in the area,” she said.

“The Ao Por people don’t expect to halt the project; they just want the remaining coral to be protected and they want the Governor to give as much consideration to their interests as he does to those of a big company.”

The planned marina would have space for 100 yachts to tie up, be serviced and get fuel. The project began about 15 months ago and is scheduled to be complete by the middle of this year.

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Tourism

Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months

Maya Taylor

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Phuket prepares to welcome first Chinese tourists in over 6 months | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Jing Daily

The first group of tourists to arrive under Thailand’s new Special Tourist Visa scheme are expected to land in Phuket on October 8. The Bangkok Post reports that a flight from Guangzhou in southern China will carry 120 tourists, who will spend their first 14 days in alternative state quarantine. They are reported to be travelling under the government’s new STV.

Arrivals who do not pass the initial health screening will be transferred to specially chosen hospitals, as “Patients under Investigation”. Those who do pass the screening will be transported to alternative state quarantine once they’ve gone through immigration processing.

A Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration spokesperson says the resort islands of Phuket and Koh Samui will be the first to welcome travellers under the Special Tourist Via scheme. He pointed out that Guangzhou has not recorded any new cases of the Covid-19 virus for a prolonged period, meaning next week’s tourist arrivals are deemed “low risk”. His assertion is confirmed from the official figures at worldometer.info website recording world Covid-19 cases.

The CCSA reports that there will be a limit of 300 foreign tourists admitted each week, but this will be reviewed after the first phase of the re-opening. All arrivals will be subject to 14 day quarantine, although the Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn has suggested reducing this to 7 days eventually. The CCSA says they are not considering reducing the quarantine time at this stage.

Thiravat Hemachudha from the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre is not opposed to the idea.

“We can study this with foreign visitors who will arrive next month. During the 14 day quarantine they will be tested on the first, the seventh and the fourteenth day. If they are free of infections, we can shorten the quarantine to 7 days.”

However, not all are in agreement, with a doctor from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University cautioning against any shortening of the quarantine period.

Meanwhile, Phuket governor, Narong Woonsiew, says the province is ready to welcome the new arrivals, with Covid-19 labs in place at Phuket airport, and officials due to carry out a full dress rehearsal today.

Thanit Sermkaew, chief of the Phuket Public Health Office, says over 1,200 rooms at 9 hotels have been chosen as alternative state quarantine properties, with a total of 73 hotels, providing over 5,800 rooms, applying for consideration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn baby on a bench in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siangtai/Newshawk Phuket

Police tracked down and arrested a Burmese woman who allegedly left her newborn baby on a bench in Phuket’s Patong area last week. The mother faces charges of abandoning a baby.

The newborn was left in a reusable shopping bag on a bench behind a Krungthai Bank branch. A woman in the area heard the baby crying and found the newborn in the bag along with a bottle of milk, diapers and clothing. Police reviewed surveillance camera footage shows a woman, police later identified as Ei Ei Phyu, leaving the bag on the bench.

Police say the woman gave birth on September 9 at a local hospital in Surat Thani’s Phun Phin district. Ei Ei allegedly took a van from Surat Thani to Phuket on September 22 and stayed with a friend in Patong. The early the next morning, she allegedly left her baby on the bench before boarding a bus back to Surat Thani.

Burmese workers in the Patong area told police Ei Ei used to work at a local Indian food restaurant before she moved to Surat Thani to work as a rubber tapper. Ei Ei allegedly told police she is not in the position to raise a child.

In earlier reports, police said the baby is healthy and does not appear to have any injuries.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest 6 after finding large amounts of methamphetamine in raid | The Thaiger

Phuket Provincial Police have arrested 6 people after finding large amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs during a raid. One suspect alone allegedly had 7.6 kilograms of crystal meth (ya ice) and over 12,500 methamphetamine pills (ya bah). 29 year old Surasak ‘Bank’ Wijit and 27 year old Panida ‘Mei’ Saeyang were arrested at an apartment car park in Soi Lookkaew, Moo 6, Rassada, in eastern Phuket, after they were found in possession of the drugs.

Police also found 2 mobile phones and a red Honda PCX, registered in Phuket, as evidence. Both suspects have been charged with posessing a Category 1 drug with the intent to sell.

Other suspects arrested at the same time include 36 year old from Chiang Rai, 42 year old Sarawut ‘An’ Srichanon, from Ranong and 31 year old Pornthep ‘Iew’ Thepchampa, who were charged with the same crimes in Chalong after police found more drugs in their possession. 33 year old Kamon ‘Kung’ Sae-ngow, was arrested as well after police found kratom juice and leaves at a house in Rassada. He was taken to Phuket City Police station and was charged with a Category 5 drug possession.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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