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PM backs Myanmar’s efforts in tackling the Rohingya crisis

The Thaiger & The Nation

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PM backs Myanmar’s efforts in tackling the Rohingya crisis | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: VOA News

Thailand has considered the issue a “domestic” matter for Myanmar, and has also declined to recognise the Rohingya as refugees, leaving them vulnerable to persecution.

Thailand is backing the Myanmar government’s efforts to solve the long-running problem relating to the Rohingya in Rakhine state.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said, “[I] welcome the Myanmar government’s] sincere efforts to solve the problem in Rakhine State in a sustainable manner,” during a joint press conference with visiting Myanmar President U Win Myint Prayut on Thursday, when the two leaders read out a joint statement to media.

Prayut lauded the efforts to set up an Independent Commission of Enquiry and closer engagement with United Nations agencies. He also stressed Thailand’s “readiness to implement development projects to enable local communities help themselves in a sustainable manner”.

Win Myint, meanwhile, did not directly mention the Rohingya issue but said bilateral discussions had touched on “promoting peace in Myanmar”

The Myanmar military’s crackdown last year on the Rohingya forced hundreds of thousands of them to flee to nearby countries, including Thailand.

Thailand has considered the issue a “domestic” matter for Myanmar, and has also declined to recognise the Rohingya as refugees, leaving them vulnerable to persecution. The Myanmar government also encouraged their Thai counterparts to refer to the stateless minorities as Bengali, a term that would automatically imply their foreign status in Myanmar.

During a bilateral session with Prayut on Thursday, the two leaders also discussed about border development and connectivity, trade and investment, promotion of rights of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand, return of displaced persons as well as development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone.

Thailand promised to “continue to protect Myanmar migrant workers as per Thai laws and regulations”, Prayut told the guest, and also appreciated cooperation by the Myanmar government to expedite the national verification process expected to be completed by this month. Thailand is home to millions of Myanmar migrant workers and has implemented laws to secure Thai people’s jobs amid the influx of foreign workers but in the process it has almost barred those workers from working in Thailand.

Thailand last year enacted migrant worker laws that hand out stiff fines to aliens who are not registered with the Labour Ministry as well as to their employers, forcing thousands to return to their home countries. The enforcement of the law was later delayed to alleviate the effects.

PM backs Myanmar's efforts in tackling the Rohingya crisis | News by The Thaiger

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomes Myanmar’s President Win Myint at the Government House in Bangkok

SOURCES: The Nation

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Bangkok

Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach “unhealthy” levels

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach “unhealthy” levels | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s air quality improved during the lockdown period. In January, it was listed as the “third most polluted city in the world.” By April, air pollution levels dropped down to a “safe” and “healthy” US Air Quality Index, or AQI. Now, forecasts predict Bangkok’s air pollution will reach “unhealthy” levels.

Air with containing low levels of the air pollutant PM2.5 is considered “safe.” PM 2.5 is fine particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. At high levels, it can be harmful to people’s health. AQI is measured by the concentration of air pollutants. An AQI at 0 to 50 is considered safe, while 300 and up is considered dangerous.

  • 0-50: Good
  • 51-100: Moderate
  • 101-150:Unhealthy for sensitive groups
  • 151-200: Unhealthy
  • 201-300: Very unhealthy
  • 301-500: Hazardous

Just yesterday, Bangkok was listed as the 16th city with the worst air quality in the world on Air Visuals with an AQI of 108 with PM 2.5 at 38 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This morning, Bangkok’s air quality was reported at a “moderate” level with an AQI of 95, according to Air Visuals.

Another website, through the World Air Quality Index project, reported the city’s AQI at 129, a level that can be harmful to sensitive groups. Both websites forecast the AQI to increase by tonight to “unhealthy” levels that could be harmful to someone’s health. Levels are expected to increase today to an AQI of 158 to 171.

The Pollution Control Department says the air quality in Bangkok fluctuates. While AQI was reported at a fairly high level yesterday, Bangkok has been between a “good” and “moderate” level with PM2.5 at around 20 to 42 µg/m3 detected by 71 air quality stations, according to the department.

The top 5 cities with the worst air quality, as of this morning on Air Visuals, are Delhi, India with 192 AQI; Shenyang, China with 186 AQI; Beijing, China with 174 AQI; Chongqing, China with 172 AQI and Chengdu, China with 167 AQI.

Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach

Pollution forecast for the week of October 26 to November 1, according to the World Air Quality Index project. Red means air pollution at “unhealthy” levels and orange means air pollution at levels “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Air Visuals| World Air Quality Index project

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Economy

Government planning new strategies to boost economic recovery

Maya Taylor

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Government planning new strategies to boost economic recovery | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pracha Hariraksapita / Shutterstock

Energy minister and deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow has outlined a number of strategies the government hopes will help the Thai economy recover from the Covid-19 fallout. The Eastern Economic Corridor, the special economic zone covering the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao, continues to eye foreign investors with a number of large infrastructure projects in the pipeline. One of those is a high-speed rail link between U-Tapao, Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. Also in the works is a 290 billion baht project to develop U-Tapao, with plans for a new, third terminal, and an aviation training centre, among other facilities.

Supattanapong adds that the Board of Investment is considering a range of incentives to encourage foreign investors to purchase property in Thailand. The government is considering offering permanent residency to those buying condos in the Kingdom, provided they don’t mortgage, transfer, or sell the units within 5 years of purchase.

In relation to foreign arrivals, he says the government will clarify its plans on any further re-opening to tourists and investors, in addition to any potential reduction in quarantine. He adds that if the current 14-day period is to be reduced, this would only apply to those coming from countries considered “low risk” for Covid-19. It’s understood the Public Health Ministry is working on categorising countries into low, medium, and high risk, in order to determine the new mandatory quarantine period for international arrivals.

Officials are also considering how foreigners can be encouraged to up their spending from the current average of 50,000 baht per person to 100,000 baht. Since the closure of Thailand’s borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s tourism sector, once welcoming around 40 million visitors a year and generating 3 trillion baht in revenue, has been decimated.

Meanwhile, the government continues to target domestic tourists and residents through a number of stimulus measures, including a recently announced co-payment scheme aimed at boosting spending.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

Head of development think tank calls for dialogue to resolve political crisis

Maya Taylor

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Head of development think tank calls for dialogue to resolve political crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The president of the Thailand Development Research Institute is calling on both sides to resolve the ongoing political conflict through dialogue and democracy. In a report in the Bangkok Post, Somkiat Tangkitvanich warns that the situation is reaching a crisis point as he lays out his proposals for how both sides can reach an agreement.

Posting on Facebook, Somkiat points out that the country is currently divided politically based on their age, which he says is still preferable to being split by religious or racial differences. He adds that each side still needs to live alongside the other and that the only way out of the current impasse is through dialogue.

“For many Thais, the main question is what kind of political and governing system we should have and how the Monarchy should play a role. Many have expressed their own opinions, and it is obvious there are still huge differences. Whatever happens, we will still continue to co-exist in Thailand and we cannot expel or get rid of the side (just because) they hold different opinions.”

One of Somkiat’s suggestions is to use the House of Representatives and the parliamentary process to find a solution in the first instance. If this fails, the next step would be to hold a referendum and allow the people to decide. In the event of a referendum, each side should have equal opportunity to argue their case without intimidation, so that voters can make a fully informed decision.

He adds that, in addition to the formal process, a mediator acceptable to both sides could chair informal talks between them, but warns that these should not be held publicly, in order to avoid pressurising negotiators into a corner where they’re unable to change their stance.

Finally, he points out that, in order for both sides to work together and learn to trust each other, the government must release everyone currently being held on politically-related charges and listen to what they have to say.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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