Thailand News Today | Government kills happy plant party
After intense censure debate over the past three days, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and 10 other cabinet ministers have scraped by and survived a vote of no-confidence, maintaining their positions and avoiding censure again.
Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit had the least favourable votes, with only 241 votes in his favour and 207 against, with 23 people abstaining from the vote. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan received the most supportive votes of confidence, with 268 in his favour and only 193 voting no-confidence.
Often-maligned Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul had a rousing amount of support with 264 votes in his confidence, the second-most of any minister. Meanwhile, the prime minister fell in the middle, receiving 206 votes of no-confidence against 256 votes in his favour, with nine abstentions from voting.
To officially receive a vote of no-confidence, a minister would have needed to receive a total of 239 votes against them, amounting to half the total number of members of parliament. Minister of Interior Anupong Paochinda received the highest number of negative votes, but with 212, comfortably avoided the no-confidence label by a margin of 27 votes.
PM Prayut declared after the vote that he had no intentions of shaking up the cabinet as a result of the vote. This censure debate was likely to be the last one of Prayut’s tenure, as a general election is expected next year, though the PM could call for a by-election before then by dissolving the Parliament.
Thailand decriminalised the growing, sale, possession, and use of the C plant last month with very few rules or regulations in place to manage the newly legalised drug. Now government officials are taking steps to rein in the widespread popularity of the plant, with a new resolution to ban all forms of cigarettes that use the extract.
The National Tobacco Products Control Committee put forth the resolution, which would ban the sale not only of electronic cigarettes or vapes that use the plant extract but also traditional cigarettes and cigars using the drug, including joints. The ban would severely kneecap the recreational use of the happy plant, which has run rampant with about a million people getting a certificate to grow, sell, or use the plant, and shops and stands selling joints and other related products springing up all over the country, especially in tourist areas.
Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul chaired the meeting where the decision was made. The Ministry of Public Health will now formalise regulations, to create new guidelines for the ban on infused cigarettes or e-cigarettes, the latter of which would also fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society as well as police forces.
Anutin commented to reinforce that the government and the Ministry of Public Health have always been against the recreational use of the plant and that the original draft bill that led to the decriminalization of the drug never explicitly mentioned the idea that recreational drug use is permitted.
While it is still illegal for minors, sensational stories of children getting access to cannabis products and people suffering seemingly extreme maladies as a result of consuming the newly legal plant have poured across Thailand media and social media.
Once again, more heavy rain is expected to pour down on most regions of Thailand today and tomorrow.
The Thai Meteorological Department says the monsoon trough is lying across the lower North, upper Central and lower Northeast of Thailand.
Meanwhile down in the country’s south, there is a moderate southwest monsoon over the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. In the upper Andaman, and throughout the Gulf, waves are expected to be about two metres high. In the lower Andaman, waves will also be two metres high but are expected to rise above two metres high during thunderstorms. The department has warned all boats to be careful.
This week Thailand’s monsoon season wreaked havoc in Bangkok, where the rainfall was record-breaking. It was the highest rainfall recorded in 67 years in some areas of the centre of the Thai capital.
Rainfall measured at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre in Khlong Toei district on Wednesday night was 132.5 millimetres, surpassing the earlier record of 108mm on July 30, 1955. Over 100mm of rain poured into Khlong Toei and Bang Na, the central districts of Bangkok, on Wednesday evening.
People in some areas had to get out of their cars and wade through floods, while one university even suspended its lectures.
One university professor has warned that Bangkok needs to fix its drainage system before September since floods could likely escalate from September to October.
Thai officials are on guard for monkeypox as the country upgraded its monkeypox alert to the national level today.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul called an emergency meeting today after the World Health Organisation declared monkeypox a Global Health Emergency.
This news comes after a Nigerian man, who was the first person recorded with monkeypox in Thailand, escaped to Cambodia. The man had been diagnosed with the virus in Phuket, but when officials went to his condo to take him to a hospital, he had fled. The man is believed to have then swam across the Sa Kaeo River to Cambodia, where he was arrested yesterday.
Phuket health officials say they have tracked down people who came into close contact with the man. The Phuket Public Health Office said two of the 19 had recently tested negative for monkeypox, while test results for the others would be known in a few days.
Anutin said health chiefs at today’s meeting believed the man had not spread the virus, so Thailand is still safe. He said that disease control officials around the country are working with border checkpoints to screen travellers for monkeypox.
The Medical Services Department says it has enough vaccines to protect Thailand from monkeypox. The vaccine is reported to have been in cold storage for 40 years, but the department said it was still viable. The department added that it also has sufficient medicine and facilities in case a monkeypox outbreak happens.
Anutin has said that Covid-19 prevention measures are also effective against monkeypox, which spreads more slowly than Covid.
Thailand has reported a jump in Covid-19 related deaths, and serious cases, throughout the past week. The Public Health Ministry said this morning that there have been 2,390 more coronavirus in-patients and 29 new deaths in the past 24 hours.
The numbers are up from Monday (July 18), when Worldometers reported 1,814 new cases and 17 new deaths.
As of yesterday, 24,702 people were receiving Covid-19 treatment, including 12,290 in hospitals. Out of patients being hospitalised, 874 were seriously ill with lung inflammation. That number has risen over the past week from 786. Last week, a doctor at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital said the number of people with lung infections made up about 8% of Covid hospitalisation. Meanwhile, the number of patients relying on ventilators went up from 349 to 409.
Thailand is seeing a so-called “mini-wave” of coronavirus infections, especially in Bangkok. While there have been reports of around 2,000 cases being reported every day, some doctors have claimed that the actual number of current infections is more like 20,000 to 30,000 per day.
Despite the world seemingly getting back to normal, the World Health Organisation is warning that the Covid pandemic is far from finished.
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