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Six arrested in child-porn crackdown

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Six suspects have been arrested in nationwide crackdowns on child pornography websites.

Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal says five suspects from three networks carrying online child pornography have been arrested under warrants and their accounts led to an arrest of another suspect.

He said the suspects were arrested in Samut Prakan, Surat Thani and Ubon Ratchathani.

Surachet said police learned from one suspect, identified only as 29 year old ‘Oh’, that the networks had sponsors and had several websites.

The officer said police were tipped off by non-governmental organisations to carry out the crackdowns. He says over 500 child-porn websites have been blocked.

Anti-trafficking chief Pol Maj Gen Kornchai Klayklueng says pornographic websites were human trafficking crimes and most of the offenders are programmers or experts in doctoring photos.

Kornchai said sometimes young boys were duped into masturbating on webcams by offenders who pretended to be women and they recorded the clips to show on their websites.

Meanwhile the Royal Thai Police have established two new divisions in a bid to tackle human trafficking crimes on the Internet, said RTP adviser and Pol General Thammasak Witcharaya yesterday.

The divisions will focus on computer and social media evidence gathering, and in suppression of child trafficking and child pornography.

Speaking in his capacity as the director of the RTP’s centre tackling human trafficking and the protection of children, women and families, Thammasak said an emerging human trafficking method was to lure female and male youths to take indecent photos and video clips to sell via social media.

The Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) Task Force was set up two years ago to tackle this and similar crimes and has made many arrests. Most culprits were Thai nationals, and not foreigners as Thai police had originally assumed based on the Interpol database at the time.

Thammasak said his centre had initially pulled all available resources to tackle issues. But as workloads expanded, he proposed two new divisions be set up – the digital forensic science division and the TICAC division – and the national police chief approved the plan. The centre now works closely with the 150strong TICAC on digital investigation.

The digital forensic science division will recruit 100 bachelordegree holders from within the police force and outside for computer, social media and telephone evidence gathering, he said. Approval for the division focused on child pornography has meant a permanent status, structure and staffing positions for TICAC. US authorities have provided useful advice to TICAC over the past two years and have in turn praised TICAC as a good model for child trafficking suppression work in Southeast Asia, he added.

Thammasak hoped factors – especially Thai authorities’ continuing measures to prevent and suppress humantrafficking crimes – would improve the country’s position from Tier 2.5 on the watch list to Tier 2 in the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2018, which will be released in June.

Meanwhile, Nakhon Phanom social development and human security official Apinya Chompoomas led police and administrative officials to inspect night entertainment venues in Muang district on Thursday night as part of efforts to prevent human trafficking crimes.

They gave a formal warning to a karaoke bar in Tambon Tha Khor that employed some girls under 18. The bar’s owner insisted the youths worked as dishwashing staff and not waitresses, while another beer and karaoke bar employed six Thai and seven Lao women with proper work permits. Apinya said the authorities have to be more vigilant now that human traffickers are using various techniques including abduction, and are luring foreign women into prostitution via marriage.

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All 42 Sarasas private schools to be investigated after teacher allegedly beat students

Caitlin Ashworth

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All 42 Sarasas private schools to be investigated after teacher allegedly beat students | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kapook

All of the 42 Sarasas private schools throughout Thailand will be investigated by the Office of the Private Education Commission, or Opec, after a teacher was caught on camera allegedly hitting kindergarten students. The teacher, Ornuma “Khru Jum” Plodprong,” allegedly beat young students at the Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School in Nonthaburi. Khru Jum, along with other teachers that allegedly witnessed the abuse, were fired and may face criminal charges pressed by parents.

Surveillance camera footage of the classroom at the Nonthaburi school shows a teacher, identified as Khru Jum, hitting kindergarten students. In one clip, the teacher pushes a 3 year old student down to the ground and pulls a student’s hair. Another clip shows the teacher dragging the student across the classroom. Other teachers who were in the classroom did not intervene, the footage shows. Opec secretary general Attapon Truektrong says staff members who witnessed the alleged abuse were fired.

The commission is teaming up with Department of Mental Health to send psychiatrists to the school to evaluate children who may have faced some abuse from their teacher, Attapon says. He adds that Opec is working with the parents to press charges on staff members.

There have been complaints about bullying and inappropriate punishment at 34 other Sarasas schools, according to Opec. The commission has set up a special committee to investigate all of the 42 Sarasas private schools. All of the Sarasas schools will need to allow parents to access classroom surveillance camera footage.

The Sarasas schools do not have a discipline policy, according to Sarasas Affiliated Schools chairman Pibul Yongkamol, the board that oversees the 42 schools. He says teachers are told to teach with “love and care,” but there are no set guidelines or rules regarding punishment.

Khru Jum also did not have a teaching license. Opec is now asking all the Sarasas schools to make sure all teachers have the proper teaching license issued by the Teachers’ Council of Thailand. Attapon says the Nonthaburi school broke other rules, like the maximum class size.

“We have found that Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School also ignored admittance quotas for its English programme. Under the rules, private schools are only allowed to admit 25 students per class for English lessons, but Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School allegedly admitted 34 students per class.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Kanchanaburi

Luxury resort built on national park land given demolition order

Maya Taylor

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Luxury resort built on national park land given demolition order | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandadventureguide.com

“Tear it down, or we will.”

That’s the ultimatum officials have given the owner of a luxury resort built on national park land in Kanchanaburi, western Thailand. The Phatsapada Resort, which consists of 17 chalets, has been built on land belonging to Khao Laem National Park. A demolition order, posted outside the property yesterday, gives the owner 7 days in which to pull it down. Failure to do so will see officials take charge of the demolition, at a cost of 200,000 baht, which the owner will be obliged to pay.

The Bangkok Post reports that the resort was recently inherited by the heirs of its former owner, Ms Jarupha Detchinda, after she passed away. It’s understood Jarupha represented a high-ranking member of the military who built the resort, according to Niphon Chamnongsirisak, from the Protected Areas Regional Office 3.

Jarupha had previously been fined 30,000 baht and sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment in January 2018. She was also required to pay 103,379 baht to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. A subsequent appeal upheld the prison term, but suspended it for 2 years, and her fine was reduced to 10,000 baht.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Top 10

Top 10 things that changed in Thailand during the Covid outbreak

The Thaiger

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Top 10 things that changed in Thailand during the Covid outbreak | The Thaiger

Things have changed. In some cases they’ve changed a lot and may never be the same again. Many people are suffering as a result of the impacts of lockdowns and the border closures. Entire industries, like aviation and entertainment, have been profoundly affected. Some people are being forced to re-invent their lives as a result. Fears over Covid-19 are causing people to change their habits and re-evaluate their lives. Here are some of the main things we believe have changed since January this year.

Face Masks

The now ever-present face mask will be with us for a long time. In Asia, it was never uncommon to see people wearing face masks for traffic, air pollution, fears of disease or just as a fashion statement.

In the Covid-era, mask wearing will now just become part of what we wear when in public spaces. When we leave home we’ll check if we have our keys, our wallet AND our face mask. Even when the government relaxes the current laws about the wearing of face masks, most people, we predict, will continue to wear them anyway, at least in the medium to long term.

Taking Your Temperature

It’s everywhere, it doesn’t appear to be very effective or reliable, but it’s not uncommon to have your temperature taken by someone pointing an infra-red thermometer at your head numerous times a day. The only people that appear to have benefitted from these temperature checks are the manufacturers of infra-red temperature check machines. But in the Covid-era they remain an ever-present reassurance that at least businesses are trying and want to be seen as contributing to the broader public health safety.

Xenophobia

Top 10 things that changed in Thailand during the Covid outbreak | News by The Thaiger

As Thais have pondered the reason their shops closing, their tourist customers vanishing and their income dropping, thoughts turn to the foreigners that brought the virus here in the first place…. and the vast majority of new cases recently, from OVERSEAS!

Either real or imagined, xenophobia and racism always creep in during times of national stress. Many politicians perpetuate the fears to their advantage and right-wing groups thrive on the blame game.

During Covid-19, Thailand has been a wonderful host to the hundreds of thousands of foreigners stuck here to share this testing time. And many foreigners have responded to the crisis by volunteering their time and resources to help struggling locals get through the worst of the local lockdowns and closures.

There has been a few, luckily very few, outbursts by some mis-informed Thai politicians, journalists and local keyboard warriors expressing their frustrations and targeting the foreigners as the butt of their frustrations.

Flying in the Covid-era

While the domestic carriers are all flying again, they’re doing it tough. Planes are sometimes half-empty and there’s certainly less choice of times and destinations, compared to before the Covid travel restrictions set in.

But it hasn’t stopped the budget airlines from making the situation extremely competitive with the fares still very low. The aviation industry will certainly re-emerge with fewer airlines as some will be unable to weather the Covid storm. Even the Thai government’s announcement of soft-loans to airlines, with 2% interest, will do little to help and simply kicks the bankruptcy can down the road a few more months.

Confidence

Many business had to close during the lockdown. Some have re-opened. Others tried to re-open but have since closed again. Some are struggling along as best they can, tweaking their business models to cope. But people, through fear or simply being unable to afford it, are going out less and spending less. People are rediscovering the values of close communities, family or the joys of Netflix and at-home entertainment.

The impacts of recessions across the region will have long-lasting, profound effects on consumer confidence and behaviour. People’s renewed confidence will lag behind any eventual economic recoveries.

Eating Out

There’s been few clear winners in all this Covid mess. But delivery companies are one of them and the local motorcycle delivery services in particular. Grab Food and Food Panda are just two examples of the new way we eat and many restaurants are changing their table service model, and even their take away services, to suit the new normal of food-on-demand. Some restaurants have even closed their doors forever and turned into virtual restaurants, delivering food exclusively through the convenience of app ordering and delivery.

Even as the situation has eased to a large degree in Thailand where a lot of daily living is back to ‘normal’, people simply aren’t going out as much, have pivoted to the delivery services for some shopping and eating, and finding new ways of running their lives, closer to home and with less household outlay.

The Travel Industry

Apart from the obvious lack of international tourism, there’s no doubt we’re simply going to be travelling less in the short to medium term. Many people will be unable to afford the long holidays of the pastand may travel less, or not at all. For business we’ve found efficient ways to keep in contact without meeting face to face. Had anyone ever heard of “zoom’ video conferencing software before Covid?

For the communities that relied on tourism, the changes in their situation has been profound. Businesses are having to reinvent their model to cater for domestic tourism or simply find other ways to diversify their business plan, or just wait out the situation. That wait will eventually kill off a large chunk of local and foreign businesses.

The Economy

Thailand is in recession. So is everywhere else, and the situation, sadly, is likely to get worse as the Covid-era stretches out beyond 2020 and restrictions hold back investment. Some previously good businesses are now out of business. Businesses that were struggling before have been proven unsustainable and closed, probably never to re-open.

Globally, the government stimulus poured into local economies has caused artificial spikes in some stock markets. All this debt will need to be repaid at some stage. In other countries, where the government paid salaries for companies that were forced to close up or sack staff, are finding it hard to ween people off the grants and get them back to work.

In Thailand the economy has been hit hard, particularly in the export , tourism and hospitality industries. The downstream effects of all the staff losing their work, will have an effect on the local economy for many years.

Thailand, reliant on international tourism, has found itself exposed once the borders were closed. As the situation extends way past the ‘few months’ people were expecting, the full impact is starting to hit hard, particularly in places like Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Their reliance on tourism has exposed their economies and left thousands wondering what else they can do to sustain themselves.

Whilst Thailand has recovered quickly from past political unrest, tsunamis and past pandemic threats, this time there will be a much longer path to recovery and will force many businesses to re-evaluate their businesses.

Work from home

Both Thailand’s commercial property market and businesses that have previously had centralised offices, have seen a big shift in behaviour. Driven by the need to work from home during the lockdown in April and May, many businesses magically discovered that they can actually function perfectly well with their employees working from home. The flow-on effects of all this is reducing traffic on the roads, lighter peak traffic loads, flexible hours and, of course, larger businesses wondering why they’ve been renting all this expensive commercial building space. Freelance work is a boom industry as company’s work forces move online instead of in-office.

The red light industries

The reality has certainly hit home for tens of thousands of Thailand’s sex workers. Although not officially recognised in Thailand, prostitution has been a huge local underground (and not-so-underground) industry in the past, creating its own micro-economy involving locals and international tourists.

Without official government acknowledgment, the jobs of Thai sex workers are not recognised and their salaries vanish once the bars and borders close. No rights, no unemployment pay. The number of prostitutes in Thailand is upwards of 100,000, and these workers have had to head home, many back to the northern and northeast provinces. Thailand’s red light districts were locked down for almost 3 months and bars and clubs, and the bar girls and boys, have been struggling ever since.

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