Thailand News Today | Breathalyser and Blood Tests for Drivers this Songkran
France has shown its support for Thailand’s fight against Covid-19 by donating over three million doses of Pfizer vaccines to the Kingdom of Thailand.
The donation will be well-received by Thai people as surveys reveal that Thais have more confidence in the effectiveness of the U.S.-produced Pfizer vaccine than they do in the ones produced in Thailand. The French ambassador officially presented the donation to Thailand’s Prime Minister on April 4.
France donated 3,268,620 doses of Pfizer vaccines in total. The first delivery of around 400,000 doses took place on March 12 and the second delivery of the remaining 2.8 million or so doses was received at the end of March.
A Suan Dusit poll conducted last year revealed that 57% of respondents believed that Thai vaccines would help them to develop immunity and reduce the impact of the virus. Respondents had 66% confidence in the Thai-made AstraZeneca and the most popular shot was Pfizer with 75% of respondents having confidence in the vaccine.
Relations between France and Thailand are especially amicable since Thai foreign ministers signed the “Roadmap for Thai-French Relations” in Paris back in February to enhance bilateral relations and strategic partnership between the two countries.
The Ministry of Public Health plans to use blood testers to measure the alcohol level of drivers during the “Seven Dangerous Days of Songkran”.
Authorities say the blood test would be used in addition to the standard breathalyser test. If anyone refuses to get tested, officers will assume them to be drunk.
The crowded roads during the annual Songkran Festival cause many traffic accidents, especially during the seven days from April 11 to 17, which are considered some of the most dangerous days to drive on the road in Thailand.
On Monday, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Public Health Sathit Pitutecha, told Thai media that the authorities are considering using an alcohol blood tester at some traffic checkpoints during the Thai New Year, which begins next week. He said the blood tester would be an alternative choice for drivers who couldn’t take a breathalyser, such as drivers so intoxicated they’ve become inebriated, or someone who is seriously injured and can’t blow out.
Sathit added that drivers should not refuse to take a breathalyser. If they do, the officers would assume them to be drunk and offer the blood test to confirm their intoxicated condition. However, this year the ministry’s budget for blood testing kits is limited. So they’re only able to supply the additional blood testing kits for the seven days when they predict the police will need them the most. In the future, the Department of Disease Control may propose an increased budget of some 20 – 30 million baht to provide alcohol blood test kits at traffic checkpoints throughout Thailand at all times.
The Director-General of the Department of Disease Control Opas Karnkawinpong added that if they found drunk drivers under 20 years of age, authorities would track down and charge whoever is found to have sold them the alcohol.
No engine, no cigar. That’s the hard-line Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha set on Monday regarding the navy’s deal to purchase a Chinese submarine without the most important part — the engine. And if China does not include the German-made engine as stated in the purchase agreement, then it’s “xi xi but no xi xi.”
PM Prayut made the statements on Monday in response to news that a German manufacturer has declined to provide the necessary diesel engines that China needs for the S26T Yuan-class submarine it is currently building for the Royal Thai Naval. Prayut spoke in his usual eloquent wisdom: “What do we do with a submarine with no engine? Why should we purchase it? If the agreement can’t be fulfilled, we have to figure out what to do. Isn’t that how we solve a problem?”
The PM, who also serves as the nation’s defence minister, said he’s already told the navy to get the deal done. But if China won’t budge, then they’ll throw the deal out the window.
The deal’s original terms stipulate that Germany’s MTU was to supply the sub’s engine, but the company was prevented from selling the item because of Germany’s embargo on military equipment, which it instituted in the wake of WWII. Apparently, the Thai navy skipped military history class and was caught off guard.
This month the navy is set to hold talks with China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Company. The company has reportedly requested to modify the contract to replace the German engines with ones Made in China. For example, the MWM 620, which is supposed of the “same standard”. But the Thai navy isn’t buying what appears to be a bait-and-switch to China’s financial advantage.
The long-awaited truth is finally coming out in the case of Tangmo after her manager confessed to giving false statements on the boat that fateful night the Thai actress drowned in the Chao Phraya River in February.
Police are also searching for another man who was not on the boat that night, but who is suspected to have coached the five boating buddies on how to weave their web of lies, so as to mislead the police and save their own skins.
On Monday, Itsarin who goes by the nickname “Gatick” Gatick confirmed to reporters that she had confessed to police but did not go into detail about it. The longtime manager was a close friend of Tangmo, who had even adopted her young daughter.
She has been charged with giving false statements to police, which could harm other people. It’s a relatively light charge, resulting in a fine of no more than 4,000 baht and a jail sentence of no 2 years tops.
Gatick’s confession follows Sunday’s events, when fellow boating buddy Wisapat, aka “Sand” surrendered to police in Nonthaburi, after they issued a warrant for her arrest. Police say Sand was the last person who was with Tangmo on the speedboat when she fell into the river on the night of February 24 and drowned.
Sand had earlier said Tangmo was holding her legs while she attempted to urinate off the back of the boat when the vessel lurched and Sand “shook” her legs so as not to fall in the water with Tangmo. Police have since debunked this story as a lie.
Last month police said the claims of the five witnesses had conflicting details and that all of them could be charged with giving false statements.
The four other boating buddies all reportedly face more serious charges than Gatick, but have so far denied the allegations from investigators. Meanwhile, a Senate panel recommended the witnesses take polygraph tests.
Rare marine animals were spotted enjoying Thailand’s coastal waters last week in Krabi, southern Thailand.
Dugongs which are manatee’s little cousins, humpback dolphins, and sea turtles were seen from above in an aerial survey conducted by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
In 2019, two stranded dugong calves were rescued by the DMCR but sadly both died the same year from infections relating to ingesting plastic. The tragedy led to government initiatives to improve conservation policies and address marine plastic pollution.
A total of 34 dugongs, colloquially known as “sea cows”, were seen munching on seagrass in Krabi’s waters, including seven pairs of mother and calf. The prevalence of mother-calf pairings indicates that dugongs are breeding in abundance. This is good news for the species which is listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Seven Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, another species listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, were spotted from the plane. A total of 36 sea turtles, also listed as endangered by the organisation, were seen swimming around Krabi’s coastal waters. None of the marine animals showed any signs of abnormal behaviour.
The Thai government has established 28 marine protected areas covering biodiversity hotspots in the Andaman Islands and the Gulf of Thailand.
If you want to see a dugong, you’re more likely to see one in the waters of Trang province, just south of Krabi. Koh Libong, Koh Mook, Hat Chao Mai National Park, Sikao, and Koh Sukorn are dugong hotspots if you want to be in with a chance at swimming with the wild sea cows.
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