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Phuket Governor and Vice Governor deny million baht bribe accusation

The Thaiger

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Phuket Governor and Vice Governor deny million baht bribe accusation | The Thaiger
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Recently, an audio clip went viral, claiming to have recorded a conversation between an anonymous man and an employee from a project accused of having encroached on Sirinat National Park (in Phuket’s north west).

Phuket Governor, Pakkapong Tawipat, says that he had nothing to do with the voice recording, which detailed a 7 digit negotiation deal to end an encroachment case over the encroachment case.

Phuket Hotnews reports that, in the recording, the voice of an anonymous man can be heard calling the employee of a project owner, who had been charged over land encroachment.

The man on the phone asked for a 7 digit amount in order to drop the case, mentioning that the person who would sign on the case would be the Vice Governor Supot Rodruang Na Nongkhai, and that the Governor was aware of the matter as well.

The voice clip reveals the conversation between the anonymous man and the female employee of the illegal project, “Have you reached a conclusion? Everyone is waiting for the answer”, while the employee replied that she already informed her boss that the money they wanted is in the millions, but her boss questioned why do they have to pay and where the money is going to go.

“Is it for the Governor? And who sign the papers?”

The man replied that Vice Governor Supot is the one who signs and that he knew about the negotiation and that there were 2 documents drafted in different ways.

The man also mentioned the name of a Phuket provincial Prosecutor and claimed that the prosecutor is very powerful as he had extended powers from the new laws enacted by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The man also said that if they face any issues, the owner of the project would be blacklisted and it would be difficult for him to travel to and out of Thailand.

The woman on the line proceeded to make an appointment for her boss to meet with the ‘prosecutor’.

After the voice clip went viral, Governor Pakkapong said that he was made aware of the recording of the conversation earlier this month and that he had asked Vice Governor Supot, who was accused of bribery in the clip as well, to make a report to the police on August 6, in order to prove their transparency. He also reported the matter to his commander.

“I insist that the Vice Governor and I have nothing to do with the voice recording and we were falsely accused as being involved. This could have come from an individual from a “certain organisation” (un-named) that has called for bribes and used Governor’s and Vice Governor’s names for their benefits.

“After reporting the matter to the police we are waiting for an investigation and to see whether I have to take part as an informer,” said the Governor.

He said that the encroachment case is an old case from 2013. The Thalang District Chief has an agreement to prosecute the encroacher but when the case went to the provincial prosecutor, the prosecutor declined to prosecute the case and sent it back to Police Region 8.

The Police Region 8 sent the case back to Phuket provincial attorney office who would have to file the case to the Phuket Governor, but he insists that the case has not been filed yet.

The Phuket Governor said that he also informed the company that owns the project that he has never learned about the bribe and in any case, if anyone uses his name to ask for bribe, please contact him immediately because he has never asked for bribes and is ready to work on every case openly.

Meanwhile, Phuket Vice Governor Supot said that he has already reported to the police about the accusations in the voice recording and insists that he has nothing to do with it either.

SOURCE: Phuket Hotnews

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket chef hands out over 2,000 free meals

Jack Burton

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Phuket chef hands out over 2,000 free meals | The Thaiger

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen many heartwarming outpourings of charity, with a lot of businesses, both Thai and foreign, handing out free meals and essential goods to those affected by the crisis. The southern province of Phuket is no exception, with many pubs and restaurants joining in. But people in the island’s Bang Tao district might be surprised to learn that their meals were prepared not only by a career chef, but a student and disciple of legendary Chef Paul Bocuse.

Pablo Blattman, owner of Dedos restaurant, and his crew hand out more than 160 free meals a day and have now donated well over 2,500 meals to the community. Blattmann, born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, by a Swiss mother and Bolivian father, says the two cultures gave him insight in different universes of flavours.

At a time when most neighbouring restaurants are shuttered (or crippled by the ban on alcohol sales), Blattman says he wants to “give something back to the community which has given me so much.”

Phuket chef hands out over 2,000 free meals | News by The Thaiger

Although the crisis means Blattman must temporarily close the restaurant (again) at the end of May, he intends to go on giving back to the community.

“Our commitment to our community is still here, and we will keep our efforts up, but in a different way: dry food, going to workers’ camps, going upcountry… be assured that every penny donated will reach people in need. We are keeping a strict accounting on all our expenses and any donor is welcome to check it.”

Those wishing to support Dedos’s charitable efforts may visit its Facebook page.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

2 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Thailand with one additional death (May 25)

Anukul

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2 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Thailand with one additional death (May 25) | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Bangkok.com

Today the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced 2 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Thailand with 1 additional death. The 2 new cases consist of 1 imported case, a Thai woman repatriated from Russia last Wednesday who is currently under state quarantine in Chon Buri province.

The other is a 49 year old Chinese citizen, the wife of an Italian who has been confirmed infected. She travelled from China to Phuket on March 9 and remained on the island due to the lockdown. She lives in Cherngtalay with her husband and 3 children aged 15, 10 and 7. She shows no symptoms at this stage. Cherngtalay is the tambon bordering Bang Tao, a hotzone for new cases during April and early May.

Thailand’s total number of confirmed cases is now 3,042 with 57 deaths since the outbreak began in January. 2,928 of those have fully recovered and been released from hospital, with an additional 7 new discharges overnight.

Only 57 people remain under medical care for the disease nationwide, and the recovery rate is 96%.

The additional death was a 68 year old Thai woman in Chumphon, southern Thailand. She was reported to have “many personal health issues and the cause of death was due to failure in her lungs and an infection in her bloodstream.”

“She had been in the hospital fighting Covid-19 for about a month and she finally passed away yesterday, minutes after midnight.”

Chon Buri province has had no new confirmed cases in 31 days, with Pattaya 10 days further ahead with no new confirmed cases for 41 days.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | The Pattaya News

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Tourism

Phuket’s lost summer – looking to 2021 for tourism recovery

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s lost summer – looking to 2021 for tourism recovery | The Thaiger
PHOTO: "Now is the summer of our discontent" - Phuket People's Voice

In a solemn recognition of the reality of Phuket’s stalled tourist industry, a spokesperson for the southern chapter of the Thai Hotels Association is saying most of the west coast hotels are unlikely to reopen until the last quarter of this year. And that’s just the start of the problems for the popular island beach resort.

For now, Phuket’s International Airport remains closed to scheduled flights, and the Tha Chatchai road checkpoint at the top of the island is heavily curating who comes in and out with red-tape and paperwork. Nationally, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has already banned international travel into Thailand until at least the end of June – it could be extended further.

Phuket’s issue, as an economy that revolves almost completely around tourism, is that, even if it throws open the immigration gates at the airport and the doors of its almost 100,000 hotel and accommodation rooms, there are few options for incoming tourists at this stage. Where will they come from? Europe (including the UK), the US and now South America, are mired in their own pandemic outbreaks, and whilst trying to reopen their economies, are facing imminent second waves of Covid-19. It’s unlikely the risk-averse Thais will willingly welcome ‘at risk’ countries back any time soon.

It’s only a few regional customers that are likely to be given approval to fly their businesspeople and tourists into Thailand anytime soon, but even that is going to be a trickle at best, at least in the short to medium term. Even these tourist markets have seen their economies hit hard by the pandemic and will be less likely to prioritise travel at this early stage – China, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore.

Whilst other parts of Thailand have opportunities to reopen their businesses – manufacture, agriculture, IT, and large chunks of populations visit shops and general trading – Phuket has little of that. Some 50,000+ of the island’s 450,000 permanent population have already departed the island, either before the borders were closed in mid-March, or as soon as they were able to return to their provinces when the road border re-opened for repatriating people at the start of May.

Even survey respondents, testing the opportunities for the island to reopen to domestic traffic to kick-start the stalled tourist economy, have shown little interest in heading to Phuket as the rest of Thailand has, well frankly, more important things to worry about. Since Phuket’s own lockdown restrictions have been lifted, early ‘staycation’ promotions, attracting locals for a bit of post-lockdown leisure, have fallen flat. For now, Phuket’s beaches remain closed anyway.

c9hotelworks‘ Bill Barnett, says “Phuket’s hardest yards for tourism are still in front of us and the loss of jobs will be enormous. No candy coating here.”

“Hotel operators and owners, are now reassessing the need for a quick return to reopen and from our talks, many are looking at pushing back to October or even later given the economics simply do not add up.”

“Even the domestic thrust of staycations are unlikely to provide the traction larger hotels need to scale up. Domestic business for island hotels on a broad basis is sub 10% of the market mix. For smaller hotels, targeting domestic is fishing where the fish are, and makes absolute sense.”

Suksit Suvunditkul, CEO of Deevana Hotels and the vice-president of the Thai Hotels Association southern chapter, says that hotels along the beach that target international guests will reopen in September at the earliest. Speaking to Bangkok Post, he says that the situation remains unpredictable.

“….but as July and August are low season, resuming operations is not worth the effort while guest demand is still weak. With some hotels not reopening until the fourth quarter, they cannot expect to profit.”

Forecasts from the Tourism Authority of Thailand say that the rest of 2020 will be mostly limited to domestic tourism, “with the Asian market starting to recover at the beginning of next year and the European market to follow much later”.

But, for now, hotels are still shuttered as management wait in hope for signs that they are, firstly, allowed to reopen and, secondly, the barriers are removed to international travel. The other main hurdle is the paperwork or restriction that will be imposed on inbound tourists. It’s hard to imagine tourists will be wanting to pack their flowery shirts, hats and suncream to end up having to submit long lists of paperwork and health checks before they arrive.

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