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Phuket Gazette World News: Cambodia police open fire on workers; Italian navy rescues over 1,000 migrants in 24 hours; Central African Republic violence displaces nearly 1 million

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Phuket Gazette World News: Cambodia police open fire on workers; Italian navy rescues over 1,000 migrants in 24 hours; Central African Republic violence displaces nearly 1 million | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Cambodian forces open fire as factory strikes turn violent
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Cambodian military police opened fire with assault rifles on Friday to quell a protest by stone-throwing garment factory workers demanding higher pay, killing at least three people, witnesses said.

Chaos during nationwide strikes erupted for a second day as security forces were deployed to break up the demonstration by thousands of workers, who refused to move and threw bottles, stones and petrol bombs outside a factory in Phnom Penh.

The clash represents an escalation of a political crisis in Cambodia, where striking workers and anti-government protesters have come together in a loose movement led by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Unions representing disgruntled garment workers have joined opposition supporters protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to demand a re-run of an election in July that the opposition says was rigged.

Military police confronting the protesters fired live ammunition, Reuters journalists said, and bullet casings were later seen scattered across the ground at the scene.

Two witnesses said they had seen at least three dead bodies during the chaos. Military police spokesman Kheng Tito, however, said only one protester was killed.

“We are sorry we heard one was killed and some were injured,” he said. “But we were just following our duty, role and tasks. Now, we are securing the situation.”

It followed a similar crackdown on Thursday in another part of the city, when armed troops struck demonstrators with batons. Witnesses said at least 20 people were wounded.

“If violence continues to happen and there are no talks, more violence will break out,” said Chheng Sophors of the human rights group Licardo. “Protesters have become angry.”

The CNRP, led by former finance minister Sam Rainsy, has courted some 350,000 garment workers from nearly 500 factories across the country by promising to nearly double the monthly minimum wage to $160 if it wins a re-run of the July election, which Hun Sen is refusing to hold.

Crisis over wages

The opposition alleges 2.3 million of its votes were stolen to allow the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) to return to office. The CPP won 68 seats in the election to the CNRP’s 55, according to the National Election Committee, but the CNRP says the commission is one of many agencies under CPP influence.

The government is refusing to raise the wage beyond $100 dollars a month and has ordered factories to reopen to prevent damage and job losses in an industry worth $5 billion a year to what is one of the world’s poorest countries.

Until this week, security forces had exercised restraint to try to cool tempers as pressure mounted on a government facing some of the biggest protests ever seen in Cambodia.

The strikes and rallies represent a rare challenge to the 28-year rule of Hun Sen, who has been credited with attracting investment and creating jobs in what was once a failed state scarred by war and the bloody 1970s Khmer Rouge era.

He has also earned a reputation for being intolerant of opposition and rights groups say abuses are common.

Hun Sen’s rule was tested last year when a once weak opposition of various parties amalgamated and won votes from Cambodians upset by low wages, graft and a substantial number of forced evictions from farmland and city slums.

Garment manufacturing is Cambodia’s biggest foreign currency earner, a major employer and a vital source of income for many rural families who complain they can barely survive on the wages that are lower than neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam.

Big brands like Gap Adidas, Nike and Puma outsource footwear and apparel to Cambodian factories, in part due to the cheaper labour costs than China.

Italian navy rescues over 1000 migrants from boats in 24 hours
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Italian navy rescued more than 1,000 migrants in the 24 hours to Friday from boats trying to reach Europe, authorities said, as an immigration crisis that killed hundreds in the last year showed no signs of easing.

Navy helicopters spotted four overcrowded boats struggling to stay afloat south of Sicily on Thursday and ships were sent to save them, the navy said in a statement.

The 823 men, women and children aboard the four vessels were from countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia.

The navy rescued 233 migrants from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan in a separate operation and took them to a port near Syracuse on Sicily’s eastern coast.

Following an October shipwreck in which 366 Eritrean migrants drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa, Italy launched a special operation combining ships, helicopters and drones to monitor the Mediterranean Sea.

Italy is a major gateway into Europe for many migrants seeking a better life, and sea arrivals to the country from Northern Africa more than tripled in 2013, fuelled by refugees in Syria’s civil war and strife in the Horn of Africa.

Over the past two decades, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean island of Malta have the brunt of the migrant flows and have urged a coordinated European Union response.

Violence in Central African Republic displaces nearly 1 million – U.N.
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Violence in Central African Republic has uprooted nearly a million people, a fifth of the population, and is hampering aid efforts, particularly in the capital Bangui, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

A flare-up in violence between Muslim fighters and Christian militias has displaced more than 200,000 people in the past few weeks alone, leaving a total of 935,000 homeless.

A Muslim rebel group, the Seleka, unleashed a wave of killing and looting after seizing power in March, and the deployment of 1,600 French and nearly 4,000 African Union peacekeepers has done little to contain the tit-for-tat violence between religious communities.

In the riverside capital alone, more than 510,000 people are displaced – equivalent to more than half the city’s population, UNHCR said. Just over half of them are children.

The number of people sheltering at a makeshift camp at the international airport has doubled in the past week to 100,000. The site lacks proper access to food or water but access for humanitarian groups has been restricted by fierce fighting in nearby neighbourhoods.

“Insecurity and chaos around the site…prevents us from doing any distribution,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told a news conference in Geneva. “It’s a horrible situation. We have heard a lot about revenge attacks happening inside health centres, where armed elements have gone and attacked patients.”

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was cutting services to a minimum at its airport clinic after stray bullets killed three children and injured 40 people this week.

“We are not going to continue to put the lives of our personnel at risk,” Lindis Hurum, its coordinator at the site, told Reuters. “A team composed of five of our 16 doctors will be left in place for cases of extreme emergency.”< — Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies

Caitlin Ashworth

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AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies | The Thaiger

A volunteer for a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial in Brazil has died. But he never actually received the experimental vaccine, although he was involved in the trial groups. He did, however, die of Covid-19.

But trials on the vaccine, being developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, are set to continue. The university says “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.” The vaccine is also planned to be produced in Thailand and be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021.

The 28 year old volunteer from Rio de Janeiro died from Covid-19 complications, according to CNN Brasil. He was apparently never injected with the experimental vaccine. If the volunteer had been given the Covid-19 vaccine and died, the trial would have been suspended, a source told Reuters, adding that the volunteer may have been part of the control group.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo is helping to coordinate the trials in Brazil and has also recommended the trials continue. So far, 8,000 volunteers have been injected with the first dose of the vaccine and some have already been jabbed a second time, a university spokesperson said.

“Everything is proceeding as expected, without any record of serious vaccine-related complications involving any of the participating volunteers.”

Thailand is set to be the Southeast Asia production site for the new vaccine. If the AstraZeneca trials are successful, the vaccine will be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021. For Thailand, the vaccine is seen as a lifeline to save the country’s struggling economy, allowing borders to safely reopen and revive the tourism industry.

The company Siam Bioscience will manufacture the vaccine in Thailand and provide injections for the Thai populations as well as the neighbouring countries Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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World

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by CNN Travel. Thailand’s coconut milk and potato-based curry (add the meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also featuring. The hot and spicy shrimp soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

Massaman curry, 1st place: Emphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Tom Yum Kung, 8th place: This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

Som Tam/Papaya salad, 46th place: To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue

Maya Taylor

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China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bicanski on Pixnio

The Chinese government is to keep the current ban on inbound and outbound tour groups, amid fears that the winter months could bring a resurgence of Covid-19. The Bangkok Post reports that the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has confirmed on its website that the ban remains in place. After several months with very low case numbers, officials are wary of the virus surging back this winter.

The ban on outbound tours is severely impacting places like Thailand, where former tourist hotspots are already suffering devastating economic consequences from the closure of the country’s borders in late March. Earlier this week, Thailand welcomed its first group of Chinese tourists in 7 months, but the Kingdom has a long way to go to get back to the 10.99 million Chinese who visited last year – if it ever does.

As the Covid-19 virus made itself known at the start of 2020, China put a stop to both domestic and outbound tours in January. Since July, domestic tours have started up again as a result of a significant reduction in Covid-19 cases.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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