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THAIGER TODAY Tuesday, August 29

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Interpol been alerted over arrest of Yingluck Shinawatra | Two tech colleges in Bangkok closed because of student attacks | Thailand’s cleanest beaches. Is Phuket on the list? | Interpol looking out for Boss, the Red Bull heir | Thepa power plant gets EIS go-ahead.

- The Thaiger & The Nation

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Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Coastal erosion experts ringing alarm bells

The Thaiger & The Nation

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“This is a big problem needing urgent solution.”

Erosion is eating away five metres of land every year along a combined 42 kilometre long stretch of Thailand’s coastline. The situation is now so serious that a consulting firm is proposing that the government invoke an already-passed environmental law to protect the hard-hit coasts.

Kittipoj Permpul, a public-participation expert at a consulting firm for a coastal management project, recently said that invoking a protection law was among the measures that could thwart further erosion.

“With five metres of land along the coast gone each year, we have reached a critical point,” he said.

Of the 42km of coastline seriously affected, stretches totalling about 4.48km are in Nakhon Si Thammarat province and about 12km of stretches are in Songkhla province.

“This is a big problem needing urgent solution,” he said.

He has been working on a project analysing information on S11 beach – which runs over 202.2km from Laem Talumphuk in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Pak Phanang district to Sakom Beach in Songkhla’s Thepha district.

“Coastal erosion has been serious in the area because solutions introduced to date have not tackled the root cause of the problem,” Kittipoj said.

He said legislation that could solve the problem has already been passed – the Marine and Coastal Resources Management Promotion Act of Bt2558. It should now be invoked, said Kittipoj.

Article 21 of this act would allow ministerial regulations to be issued to bar activities that would encourage further coastal erosion, to prepare criteria for construction in controlled areas, to suspend any activities seen as conducive to erosion, and prescribe land-usage guidelines in affected areas. With the clause invoked, it would even be possible to introduce any other measures deemed appropriate to prevent coastal erosion.

Kittipoj said his team had explained the project to locals earlier this month.

“We will organise two more forums to discuss measures that should be introduced as solutions, and also to prepare recommendations,” he said.

STORY: The Nation

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Chonburi school hazing ceremony – Grounds for concern

The Thaiger & The Nation

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School hazing ceremonies are a part of Thai culture. At schools it can be as innocent as the Wai Khru ceremony where students prostrate themselves in front of their teachers to show respect, to the more colourful ceremonies devised by older students and lecturers at universities which have also drawn concern from sections of Thai society. It’s all part of showing deference, perhaps event subordination, to those older or higher rank than you. The incident posted over the weekend in Chonburi is just another example.

Netizens are raising concerns over the health, safety and wellbeing of new students at the Suankularb Wittayalai Chonburi School, after they were told to kiss the ground during a welcoming ceremony.

They were mostly expressing concern that students could be infected by potentially lethal bacteria.

The Anti Sotus Facebook Fanpage has exposed what it called an “improper freshmen welcoming activity” at Suankularb Wittayalai Chon Buri School (east of Bangkok). The page posted photos of new students with their mouths pressed directly to dirt on the ground in the school’s football field, after being ordered to do so by senior students.

The photos sparked a social media discussion about the appropriateness of the activity and the potential health consequences for the new students from kissing the ground.

Direct exposure to dirt could cause melioidosis disease from the infection of burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria in the soil, said Dr Siriluck Anunnatsiri, a medical researcher at Khon Kaen University’s Melioidosis Research Centre.

She said the symptoms and seriousness of the disease varied for each patient based on the body’s ability to fight infections. The disease can be deadly and has a 60 per cent death rate if the infection makes it into the bloodstream.

After the “kissing the ground” activity went viral, many current and former students of Suankularb Wittayalai Chon Buri School leapt to the defence of their school. They said the ceremony was arranged under teacher supervision and that new students were not forced into activities or intimidated by the senior students.

Following the adverse publicity, school principle Wanchai Tansamai said he had summoned the teachers and senior students responsible to discuss how the ceremony could be improved.

“The school does not ignore public concerns over the inappropriateness of the ground-kissing activity, and we will make sure that such activities will not happen again,” Wanchai said.

“The school also acknowledges that the senior students had good intentions in arranging the welcoming ceremony for the new students in order to let the newcomers love their new school, adjust to the new environment and make friends more easily. They did not intend to cause any harm to the new students at all.”

He also said he had concluded from the accounts of senior students and teachers that the ground-kissing activity was at the end of the ceremony and not included in the original schedule.

The senior students at the event impulsively asked the new students to pledge their love to the school by kissing the ground, he said.

Siriluck said Thailand was the world’s hotspot for this kind of sickness, as every year around 2,000 – 3,000 Thai people fall sick with it, higher than any other country.

“This disease can be commonly found among farmers or people, who work outdoor, in every region of Thailand, while the northeastern region, especially in Khon Kaen, had the highest prevalence of Melioidosis cases,” she said.

“Melioidosis can be fatal but it is very easy to prevent by avoiding the skin’s direct contact with soil, wearing boots and gloves when working with soil, and always washing hands and body afterwards.”

STORY: The Nation

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