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Animal shows in Phuket. ‘Not in my back yard’!

Tim Newton



Animal shows in Phuket. ‘Not in my back yard’! | The Thaiger
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OPINIONby Tim Newton

Three years ago the issue came into sharp focus in Phuket when a Ukraine company established ‘Nemo’, the first dolphinarium in Phuket, right next door to the Chalong Zoo.

The dolphinarium drew a lot of kick-back from locals who took the NIMBY approach – Not In My Back Yard. They were applying their western values about the treatment of animals to the island they live on, and love. Despite their feelings on the matter local wildlife officials made the final decisions about the permits for the dolphinarium under a lot of pressure from some locals insistent that the new dolphin attraction was not appropriate. A LOT of pressure.

They decided to grant the relevant permits for the building and the hosting of dolphins who would live there and entertain paying customers.

The media, traditional and social, went fierce on the complex, before and after it opened. Social media was ripe with negative and dramatic commentary, disturbing photos and lots of ‘experts’ giving their opinions including Ric O’Barry, the subject of the 2009 Academy Award winning documentary ‘The Cove’.

Phuket Gazette (the old newspaper) took a negative stance against the establishment of the dolphinarium printing plenty of dolphinarium-unfriendly articles. The Editor at the time even hosted information evenings drumming up support against the dolphinarium. And good on him.

July 25, 2014

The fact that a dolphinarium is set to become one of Phuket’s newest tourist attractions comes as terrible news for the island’s reputation abroad, running counter to all of the positive changes we have witnessed in recent months…

August 28, 2014

Students from the Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus yesterday handed Governor Maitri Inthusut a petition with more than 400 signatures to protest the nearly-complete Nemo dolphinarium in Chalong…

June 30, 2015

Skal International Phuket & Southern Thailand’s executive committee, along with SKAL members, lashed out at the island’s unopened dolphinarium as news broke that the facility had leaped through yet another bureaucratic ring…

Sept 12, 2014

A direct connection between five wild caught dolphins bound for Phuket’s dolphinarium and the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins at the Taiji cove in Japan has been confirmed, the Asia Director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society told the Phuket Gazette by email today…

In the case of The Phuket News, they went further and declared they wouldn’t accept advertising from the new animal show. It ended up being a smart move after the Phuket Gazette newspaper (under former management) did eventually accept advertising from the dolphinarium after it opened. The community responded with a lot of negative social media for its change of heart. This letter from Skal Phuket & Southern Thailand…

Dear Phuket Gazette and John,

Today on the 5th of December 2015 the Island of Phuket and the imprisoned dolphins at the highly controversial dolphinarium in Chalong wake up to the sad news learning that the Phuket Gazette is now openly advertising the dolphin show in its latest printed issue and therefore obviously taking advertising money from the owners of the dolphinarium.

Not long ago, The Phuket Gazette and yourself were part of the efforts to prevent the dolphinarium from opening in the first place and supported activities against this animal cruelty.

The Phuket Gazette published an article where it pledged to support Skal Phuket in its efforts and John Magee was seen proudly accepting one of the black ‘Phuket Says No To Dolphin Shows’ T-shirts.

The members of Skal International Phuket herewith express our extreme disappointment with your recent change of policy.

No matter what the reasons are, we do believe that you owe an explanation to Skal International Phuket & South Thailand.

As a local reporter I’ve covered three key stories over the years about these shows using my pen and camera as weapons – the opening of the dolphinarium (I was threatened with a gun and given my marching orders off the property when trying to get information about the dolphin show venue), the sad tale of Milo the orangutan at Chalong Zoo and then the occasion when one of the tigers at the Kathu Tiger Kingdom had a bad day and took a swipe at an Australian. This gentleman decided that getting in a cage with a wild tiger and taking a selfie was a good idea. He ended up with a claw opening up his chest. Tiger – 1, Tourist – 0. Read the article HERE.

Animal shows in Phuket. 'Not in my back yard'! | News by The Thaiger

(The Australian recovered fully with all his medical bills being paid by Tiger Kingdom)

With the Tiger Kingdom story we got the full PR happy-ending treatment from the public relations department of the zoo when they turned on their Thai charm, smiled and massaged their way through the media circus, protecting the Australian tourist from any ‘difficult’ questions.

On Phuket you can now go to a reptile and crocodile show, a tiger zoo, dolphin show, a few bird shows and any number of elephant shows and rides – all legal under Thai law. Then there’s also the awful Chalong Zoo. But they’re all extremely popular and profitable for the people that manage them.

There’s been countless documentaries and articles from animal-rights groups about bad practice, maltreatment and the prickly ethics of these shows, in Thailand and around the world. But the queues keep lining up to see these shows. Tourists from places like eastern Europe, China, South Korea, Japan, the middle east and the home team here in Thailand appear to delight in seeing animals doing party tricks and taking them for rides around the jungles of Phuket.

So, is it wrong?

It comes down to your very own passionate and heartfelt opinion. Whilst these companies are doing nothing wrong under the laws of the country they operate, we may disagree with their operation but should remind ourselves that we are, after all, just guests in this country. Is it our duty to ‘educate’ the locals about their poor attitudes to animals in these cases?

The farang media has given all these shows a fair pounding and, most of the time, a chance to respond but the shows remain open and the tourists continue to queue up in their busloads.

Of course we’ll continue to respond to any stories of cruelty where action clearly needs to be taken and respect the passion from those who seek to protect animals in Phuket.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Air Pollution

PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again

Caitlin Ashworth



PM to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze… again | The Thaiger

The Thai prime minister says he’s working on a plan to tackle Northern Thailand’s seasonal haze problem by cutting back manmade bushfires known to largely contribute to the air pollution. The issue has been broadly covered in Thai and foreign media for years, and been followed up with ministerial visits, promises, and little else.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha spoke with governors of 17 northern provinces affected by seasonal haze, saying that he plans to supply villagers and local organisations with equipment, but reports did not go into much detail about what tools locals would get. He says authorities and state agencies need to step in to help combat the haze problem, suggesting that provincial governors head the local fight against wildfires.

“It’s important to eradicate the root cause of wildfires that result from villagers’ way of life… Even more farming space should be provided to farmers who need it to protect natural resources from being destroyed.”

Prayut added that it’s important for state agencies to collaborate on the firefighting effort and said members of the public can help raise awareness about wildfires.

The annual haze/smoke/air pollution problem is not just a Thai issue with the neighbouring countries, particularly Myanmar, causing their fair share of the illegal plantation fires, as shown in sharp detail in the satellite images.

Read The Thaiger’s take on the annual ‘smoke’ problem HERE.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand, delivered fresh, and free, to you. Hosted by Tim Newton. Catch the latest updates and Thai News.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments yesterday.

A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021. The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

Bleak outlook for Thailand’s hotels

Thailand’s hotels are facing a very dark time with the Thai borders still largely closed and the vast majority of Thailand’s hotels remaining closed for business.

There are 1000s of hotels and a related millions of staff, waiting for things to improve. MD, Bill Barnett, is one of the region’s most respected consultants for the industry. We asked Bill, how are they all surviving? (Run interview video… 2.56 – 3.35)

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort

After coming in for some negative online attention recently, the land title deeds of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort have been investigated and found “to be in order”.

The 5-star hotel first attracted the attention of netizens when its owner, Vorasit Issara, publicly criticised an anti-government activist.

His Instagram tirade prompted outrage from those who support the current protest movement, with netizens calling for a boycott of his property.

Shortly after, the Civil Society for State Welfare called on the Social Security Office to clarify its investment in the resort’s trust fund. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

Responding to the land rights issue, the Phuket Land Office has issued a statement to say the hotel does not occupy state land.

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month…again.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures.

Now, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily as the county starts welcoming back visitors.

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival goes ahead next month

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that!

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will take place from October 17 to 25.

Given the fireworks and crackers exploding in your face if you attend any of the events, it’s probably a good idea that the Governor is insisting visitors wear face masks. We’d recommend eye googles as well.

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival.

The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

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Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal

Caitlin Ashworth



Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal | The Thaiger

It’s going to be another 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back on track, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. At least that’s the amount of time he expects it will take to get the economy back to “normal levels” from before the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis crippled economies across the globe. The Covid-19 pandemic is already the worst global crisis since World War II, according to a report by the UN. Thailand’s tourism-dependant economy has been struggling since the country shut it’s doors to international travel. Krungthai Bank also predicts it will take about 2 to 3 years for Thailand’s economy to recover and the Finance Ministry predicts Thailand’s economy will contract by a record of 8.5% this year.

Almost 800 billion baht has gone into supporting the economy, Supattanapong says, adding that the government plans to do more stimulus perks to help boost the economy. The government is working on a 1.9 trillion baht response package with a 1 trillion baht borrowing plan.

Supattanapong’s guesses are based on the pandemic situation not getting any worse, whilst the world’s Covid cases, in many part of the world, including many of Thailand’s feeder markets, are suffering a new spike in cases. His assumptions would also have to include an immediate return to high profit of the country’s tourism industry – not likely to happen any time soon.

“I think the economy should get back to normal levels within two years… But if we can manage it very well, we may see that late next year.”

While Thailand’s economy as a whole might take just 2 years to get back to normal, the country’s tourism revenue is expected to take even longer. Krungthai COMPASS Research Centre predicts it will be at least 3 to 4 years until tourism revenue is back to normal. Thailand’s tourism revenue is expected to shrink by 70% by the end of this year, making only 9.1 billion baht compared to the 3.02 trillion baht tourism brought in last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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