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  • S Landreth
    PM rules out early election

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday he has no plan to reshuffle the cabinet or call snap elections following the ouster of renegade MPs from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

    The premier also distanced himself from the party's decision on Wednesday night to expel secretary-general Thamanat Prompow and 20 other MPs loyal to him for causing division in the party.

    Gen Prayut said the expulsion was an internal PPRP affair, adding he believed the party was trying to restore a sense of normalcy as much as possible.

    "I'm not saying who is good or bad. Let their actions speak for themselves. The people will decide at the next election. I insist that I have no intention to change the cabinet line-up or dissolve the House. The law [on the new election system] isn't ready. Don't mix them up," he said.

    When asked if Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon had any message, he said: "Love and best wishes and mutual respect."

    The ouster of Capt Thamanat and 20 others MPs, who have 30 days to find a new party or lose their MP status, came months after Capt Thamanat was sacked from the cabinet for engineering a plot to unseat Gen Prayut in last year's no-confidence debate. Capt Thamanat's move upset party members and has left an open sore in the ruling party ever since.

    Meanwhile, eight small coalition parties are considering forming an alliance with Capt Thamanat's faction, media report say. Thai Civilized Party leader Mongkolkit Suksintharanon is among those expected to join.

    Suratin Picharn, list MP and leader of the small coalition New Democracy Party (NDP), said some small parties are discussing the possibility of joining hands with Capt Thamanat, but no decision had been made. "Things should become clear next week. I have to wait for him to get a new party first," he said.

    Khathathep Techadechruangkul, list MP and leader of the small coalition Puea Chart Thai Party, denied reports that his party would join Capt Thamanat's group, saying five parties are sticking with the coalition and will continue to support Gen Prayut.

    Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam admitted the government faces uncertainty but said dissolving the House and calling a snap election is not a solution. Without Capt Thamanat's group, the coalition government is left with a slim majority of 254 votes and this could pose a challenge when key legislation including the budget bill are up for deliberation.

    PPRP deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan said on Thursday Capt Thamanat's group called for party restructuring that was found to be unacceptable by the party executive committee. The committee felt their position would affect the party's unity and stability and decided to expel them.

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  • S Landreth
    Prayut: No problem for coalition despite fierce by-elections

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha sees no conflict within the coalition government arising out of Sunday's by-elections in Chumphon and Songkhla provinces, in which the Democrat Party comfortably retained both seats.

    Two leading government parties, Palang Pracharath and Democrat, exchanged fierce accusations during the campaign rallies, sparking fears they would not be able to reconcile.

    "There should not be any problems. All elections are like this - with rival parties appearing to be in deep conflict. But all parties in the coalition must eventually work together for the people, no matter what.

    "Election campaigns are usually very fierce. I would simply congratulate whoever is the winner," Gen Prayut said.

    The government already had a heavy workload and there was no room for any conflict, he added.

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  • S Landreth
    a few stories.......
    • Japan's Hagiuda visits

    Japan has committed to promoting economic cooperation with Thailand, as well as industrial investment and development.

    Koichi Hagiuda, of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House on Thursday.

    It was Mr Hagiuda’s first visit to Thailand and the first visit by a Japanese Meti minister in five years.

    Mr Hagiuda affirmed Japan’s commitment to promoting future investment and ensuring sustainable socio-economic growth in partnership with Thailand.

    He further expressed confidence the meeting would help strengthen economic ties between Thailand and Japan.

    “Thailand is an important trade and investment partner for Japan, and vice versa, with close cooperation across all sectors,” he said.

    He also affirmed Japan’s support for Thailand’s hosting of the 2022 Apec Summit and related meetings.

    On the Thai side, Gen Prayut thanked the minister for Meti's help in modernising Thai industry through the application of digital technologies such as AI, IoT (Internet of Things) and the 5G system.

    The prime minister thanked Japan for taking part in Thailand’s human resource development, which will, in turn, support Japanese investment in the country’s S-Curve (most innovative) industries in the long run.

    He also thanked the Japanese private sector for its unwavering confidence in Thailand’s economic potential, as Japan has remained Thailand’s No.1 foreign investor for decades.

    “Co-creation between private sectors will lead to future investment and sustainable socio-economic growth for the two countries and Asia as a whole,” the prime minister said.

    He added, “Collaboration will be further tightened to achieve SDGs in energy and carbon dioxide emissions reduction.”

    Gen Prayut likewise emphasised the Thai government’s commitment to promoting a business environment that is conducive to Japanese investment in Thailand.

    Mr Hagiuda confirmed that Thailand is one of the target countries under Japan’s initiative “Asia-Japan Investing for the Future”.

    After the meeting, the prime minister presided over the signing of a memorandum of cooperation regarding an energy partnership between the governments of Thailand and Japan, with the focus placed on cooperation on clean and smart energy initiatives.

    Government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Thailand is ready to cooperate with Japan in various areas of mutual interest under the Apec framework.
    • Prayut concerned over hospitals turning away Covid-infected children

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged all government and private hospitals to accept children sickened with Covid-19.

    Prayut was deeply concerned over reports of hospitals denying treatment to infected children, said a government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul on Monday.

    "The premier asked the Public Health Ministry to implement a system to ensure that children infected with Covid-19 receive treatment as soon as possible as they may have low immunity to the virus," she said.

    Prayut also urged Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health to provide guidelines on treating Covid-positive kids for hospitals nationwide.

    Authorities advised parents to get vaccinated, avoid taking children to crowded places and keep monitoring their symptoms.

    Children with fever, cough, runny nose or contact with Covid-19 cases should receive an antigen [ATK] test and a second test 3-4 days later.

    Parents of children who test positive should contact their local hospitals for help, while parents living in Bangkok and surrounding areas can contact Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health or the National Health Security Office hotline on 1330, added the spokeswoman.
    • Infectious waste from New Year travel checks worries Prayut

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has tasked the Interior Ministry with ensuring that all infectious waste is handled safely to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in communities, deputy government spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said on Monday.

    She said this is because the volume of infectious waste is expected to rise as people travelling during the New Year break have to be screened for Covid-19 via ATKs and have to wear surgical masks while onboard public transport.

    “The PM has ordered the Interior Ministry to instruct local agencies accordingly,” she said.

    Traisulee added that the Public Health and Transport ministries are providing free ATK tests at Bangkok bus terminals until Monday to cover people returning from their hometowns.

    “People who test positive through ATK tests will be given RT-PCR tests to confirm the infection,” she said.
    • Provincial rail projects receive priority

    The government has vowed to ramp up infrastructure projects in various regions this year to drive social and economic development throughout the country.

    According to government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, related agencies have been instructed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to accelerate infrastructure projects to upgrade social and economic development in the provinces, increase the country's logistics competitiveness, and raise local people's income.

    A total of 81.5 kilometres of rail infrastructure projects in six provinces are expected to get off the ground within the next few years, including light rail development in Khon Kaen, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Hat Yai and Phitsanulok.

    According to Mr Thanakorn, the first phase of the Khon Kaen Light Rail Transit project (Samran-Tha Phra), at 26km in length, appears to have made the most progress.

    Local organisations and the Khon Kaen Transit System Co (KKTS), a company set up and registered by five municipalities in Khon Kaen to operate the train project, signed a memorandum of understanding with the CKKM-CRRC Consortium on Nov 16 to handle the construction.

    KKTS is expected to deliver construction areas to the consortium led by transport vehicle engineering company Cho Thavee Plc within one year.

    Phuket's 42km light rail project, running from Tha Noon in Phangnga province to the Chalong intersection in southern Phuket, is conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) and public-private partnership (PPP) studies. The project aims to be operational by 2028.

    According to Mr Thanakorn, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority is designing and implementing a PPP scheme for the 15.7km Red Line (Airport-Chiang Mai University-International Convention Centre) for Chiang Mai's light rail.

    The project is projected to be proposed to the cabinet in 2023 and start construction in 2024, with the start of operations likely by 2028, he said.

    The Chiang Mai light rail development project comprises three routes, with a total length of 40.6km. The Red Line is the first slated for construction.

    The 11.1km Blue Line is projected to run from Chiang Mai Zoo in the western portion of the city to Don Chan district in the south, while the Green Line spans 13.8km and runs from the city's northeast area south to Chiang Mai airport.

    Three other light rail projects in Nakhon Ratchasima, Phitsanulok and Hat Yai are awaiting EIA and PPP studies.

    According to Mr Thanakorn, two high-speed rail projects with a combined 473km in length and a value of 404 billion baht are now under construction. They are the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway (253km) and the high-speed railway linking three airports (220km).

    One project awaiting cabinet approval is a 355km high-speed rail line worth 252 billion baht linking Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai.

    He said Bangkok has two mass transit projects scheduled to start operation this year: the Pink Line and the Yellow Line. Construction of the Khae Rai-Min Buri section of the 34.5km Pink Line is 82% complete, while the 30.3km monorail Yellow Line (Lat Phrao-Samrong) is at 88% completion as of November last year, said Mr Thanakorn.

    Other mass transit projects under construction include the 22.5km Orange Line eastern section (Thailand Cultural Centre-Min Buri), which is 87% complete, he said.

    Construction is projected to finish this year, while the 35.9km western Orange Line section spanning from Bang Khun Non to Min Buri is due to open bids for construction next year, said Mr Thanakorn. Both lines are scheduled to kick off in late 2024 or early 2025.

    Deputy Prime Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said the government vows to implement 100 infrastructure projects worth 2 trillion baht in 2022, particularly those in the Eastern Economic Corridor, after investing in 160 development projects worth 1.5 trillion baht over the past six years.

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  • S Landreth
    PM rallies forces for Covid battle

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed all provincial governors to brace for a possible surge in the number of new Covid-19 infections, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Saturday.

    In their capacity as chairmen of provincial communicable disease committees, governors must be ready to enforce Covid-19 control measures in a new fight to contain the virus, said Mr Thanakorn.

    The PM had also ordered all state-run healthcare facilities to prepare staff for a rise in the number of new patients who may need inpatient treatment, he said.

    As for those who develop mild symptoms, they will be isolated at home or in the community with support provided by the National Health Security Office (NHSO) through its home- and community-based isolation programme for Covid-19 infected patients, he said.

    Gen Prayut also urged everyone to take care of themselves and get a rapid Covid-19 test regularly, said Mr Thanakorn.

    Deputy Defence Minister Chaichan Changmongkol, meanwhile, relayed a similar order to armed forces and the Royal Thai Police at a meeting on Saturday.

    While security authorities must stem the flow of illegal migrants into Thailand, they are also instructed to support the government's work to contain Covid-19, said Gen Chaichan.

    In the event of a serious outbreak, the military may have to facilitate transfers of Covid-19 patients from communities to proper healthcare facilities, he said.

    The military will also help set up emergency Covid-19 operation centres in Bangkok and other provinces in case of a widespread outbreak, he said.

    Mlitary forces will work to support law enforcement against businesses which fail to comply with Covid-19 control measures, he added.

    The air force has reopened its field hospital in Don Muang, equipped with 150 beds for Covid-19 patients, said ACM Phanphakdi Phatthanakun, the air force chief of staff.

    Several provinces on Saturday began stepping up Covid-19 containment measures. In Ubon Ratchathani, provincial governor Phongrat Phiromrat sought cooperation from the people to avoid going out between 11pm and 4am and ordered a Covid-19 lockdown in five villages in Nam Khun and Na Yia districts for 14 days following sharp rises in Covid-19 cases there.

    In Bangkok, Khachit Chatchawanit, the city clerk, said City Hall will today open 41 community isolation centres with a combined capacity to serve up to 5,158 infected patients. Unlike Ubon Ratchathani, Bangkok has yet to discuss the need to encourage its residents to avoid going out at night, he said.

    City Hall, however, is encouraging members of the public to report any pubs or restaurants which fail to follow the government's Covid-19 control measures.

    Chiang Mai, meanwhile, has ordered 23 pub and restaurants closed for three days, after they were found to pose a risk of spreading Covid-19, said provincial governor Prachon Pratsakun.

    When these businesses resume after the shutdown, they will be required to have their staff tested every three days and can only serve alcohol to customers in open-air spaces, he said. Chiang Mai recorded 310 new infections in the province on Saturday.

    Police and municipality officials in Pattaya City in Chon Buri on Friday night began evening patrols to ensure nightspots and restaurants follow Covid-19 control measures.

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  • S Landreth
    Tackling household debt high on govt's 2022 agenda

    The government has set its sights on hastening the economic recovery and marking 2022 as the year of tackling household debt, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in his New Year message.

    In a Facebook post, Gen Prayut said the country has been beset by problems stemming from Covid-19 and the economic malaise that resulted from pandemic lockdowns and restrictions.

    He said he has ordered measures to be taken to deal with the crisis, which have aided people facing dire straits. "I'm pleased that the measures have shown signs of easing people's plight," he said.

    Vaccine procurement and inoculation targets have been met with more than 100 million doses of vaccines administered so far, he said.

    The reopening of the country has kickstarted the economy, setting in motion a much-needed recovery, he said. Confidence indices have surged across the farming, industrial and service sectors, while investments are also looking up. Relief packages have helped preserve the public's purchasing power and stimulated the economy, he added.

    The Khon La Krueng ("Half and Half") co-payment subsidy programme in particular has been a resounding success and Phase 4 of the scheme will be introduced in March, he said. Public spending spurred by Phase 3, which ended on Friday, amounted to over 200 million baht, he added.

    He said the government has enabled SMEs to access loans worth 240 billion baht, which is credited for the creation of 2.6 million jobs.

    The rice guarantee scheme, worth 80 billion baht, has given a financial breather to 4.7 million farmers nationwide, he said.

    The government is prioritising the kingdom's household debt problem, which has reached a crisis point, Gen Prayut said, adding the government hoped to resolve household debts through a variety of channels and mechanisms, including debt negotiations and restructurings.

    According to a Reuters, Thailand's household debt to GDP ratio stood at 89.3% in the third quarter.

    The amount was 14.35 trillion baht at the end of September, up from 14.28 trillion at the end of June, or equal to 89.3% of GDP, already among Asia's highest, it said.

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  • S Landreth
    Prayut orders stricter Covid-19 measures after New Year celebrations

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered state agencies to expand Covid-19 prevention measures once the holiday period is over.

    Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, permanent secretary of the Office of the PM, said on Thursday that Prayut wants agencies to consider the following measures between January 1 and 14, namely:

    • Work from home if possible

    • Avoid large gatherings such as meetings, seminars, training and examinations. On-site activities can be held provided all Covid-19 prevention measures are strictly adhered to or if the event cannot be cancelled or postponed.

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  • S Landreth
    PM says Thailand will advance based on achievements of last year, despite slowdown in tourist arrivals

    Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he is confident that 2022 will be a year of the “sustainable extension” of his government’s achievements during the previous year, despite the crises and challenges confronted by the country.

    In his Facebook post today (Sunday), the prime minister elaborated on what he considers to be his government’s achievements, ranging from the procurement of sufficient COVID-19 vaccines, economic recovery, the rice price guarantee for farmers, the 50:50 co-payment stimulus scheme and access to funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

    He claimed that the government’s success in administering more than 100 million doses of vaccines has controlled the spread of COVID-19, to the extent that Thailand has reopened its borders and many businesses have been able to resume operations, albeit under strict safety measures.

    He claimed that the confidence indices in all sectors, from agriculture and industry to services and investment, are on the rise, which will help boost economic expansion. He said the government is ready to roll out promotional incentives for trade and investment, from international investment to local investment.

    Citing the outstanding success of the 50:50 co-payment scheme, which has helped boost consumer purchasing power, with combined total spending of over 200 billion baht in just the third phase, he promised that the fourth phase will be rolled out for the months of March and April.

    He claimed that the government’s credit guarantee scheme has enabled the SMEs to access about 240 billion baht in fresh funding, generating more than 2.6 million jobs.

    The prime minister said that the government’s 80 billion baht fund to support the revenue guarantee scheme for rice farmers has helped about 4.7 million farming households.

    On household debt, he said that the government has developed measures in the past year to solve the problems, including in the student loan program, car and motorcycle leasing, refinancing for credit card loans and personal loans, debt problems among government officials and a reduction of interest rates and fees.

    Despite all the challenges and obstacles facing many countries worldwide in the past year, the prime minister claimed they have made Thailand stronger, with an increased capacity in various areas, including health care and tourism.

    Nonetheless, arrivals of foreign travellers are slowing after the government suspended the “Test and Go” program, which exempted fully-inoculated arrivals from mandatory quarantine.

    Issuance of the “Thailand Pass” for new applicants has also been suspended until further notice over Omicron variant concerns and Omicron cases in Thailand are on the rise, notably through local transmission, whereas daily new COVID-19 cases are hovering above 3,000 a day with no clear sign of reducing in the near future.

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  • S Landreth
    Six parties to challenge PM's tenure

    Six opposition parties plan to seek an interpretation by the Constitutional Court next August on when Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's tenure expires, as they believe his term must end on Aug 24, 2022, Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, said on Wednesday.

    He was responding to reports that a legal team of the House of Representatives claimed Gen Prayut's term technically began on June 9, 2019, when his premiership received royal endorsement under the 2017 constitution. This means he would be entitled to serve until up to 2027.

    The opposition, however, has always insisted that Gen Prayut's maximum eight-year tenure ends next August, based on the reasoning that his premiership began on the day he was installed as the head of the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) after the 2014 coup.

    The issue is being fiercely debated as it will serve as a key indicator of when the next general election will take place.

    A House source said its legal team was assigned to go over the issue earlier and concluded the PM's tenure began on June 9, 2019.

    The legal team believes Gen Prayut's tenure as leader of the caretaker regime from April 6, 2017 -- when the current charter was promulgated until before his appointment as prime minister was royally endorsed on June 9, 2019 -- cannot be included in the calculation, said the source.

    According to this logic, and as Gen Prayut can legally serve for up to eight years as prime minister, his maximum tenure is due to end in 2027, which qualifies him as a prime ministerial candidate in the next poll, the source added.

    This conclusion was reported to House speaker Chuan Leekpai in late October, said the source.

    However such an interpretation is so contentious that "it must be forwarded to the Constitutional Court" for a final decision, according to Sutin Klungsang, Maha Sarakham MP for the Pheu Thai Party and opposition chief whip.

    Metha Matkhao, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD), said the findings of the House's legal team were nonsense.

    He said the team was being exploited to serve the interests of those already in power, and predicted it would ignite a new round of political unrest.

    Gen Prayut declined to comment when questioned on the matter on Wednesday.

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  • S Landreth
    Prayut delighted safety measures adhered to at countdown parties nationwide

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha applauded the organisers of countdown events as well as partygoers for strictly adhering to Covid-19 prevention measures.

    “PM Prayut is pleased that the events concluded without any problems thanks to the cooperation of all parties in adhering to measures such as Covid Free Setting and Universal Prevention,” government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Saturday.

    “The success of these New Year events could set a new standard for celebrations in the future.”

    In a bid to prevent the spread of Omicron, event organisers were instructed to strictly adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures such as requiring that all staff and attendees are fully vaccinated and undergo an antigen test at entrances. Events could only be held in open-air venues, with a limited number of guests and the application of social distancing.

    “In Bangkok, countdowns at CentralWorld, Iconsiam and Siam Paragon shopping malls saw participants wearing facemasks and maintaining a safe distance from one another, while organizers provided free ATK tests at entrances and demanded to see vaccination certificates,” Thanakorn said. “Similar steps were taken at events in other tourist provinces like Chonburi, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

    “PM Prayut is pleased that people willingly follow the Public Health Ministry’s measures to protect themselves from Covid-19,” he added. “This means we are ready to move ahead with reopening the country so the economy can recover fully, while people can rest assured that they will remain safe from the virus.”

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  • S Landreth
    PM orders strict monitoring of New Year events

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has appointed the Interior and Tourism & Sports ministries to ensure that all organisers of New Year events abide by strict safety measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, the government’s deputy spokesperson Traisulee Traisoranakul said on Wednesday.

    She said any events that violate Covid-19 prevention measures would be shut down immediately, citing Prayut’s instructions.

    Traisulee went on to say that Thailand is closely monitoring the Omicron variant and strictly screening foreign visitors as well as gatherings during the New Year festival as Omicron is now a dominant strain in many countries.

    “The Public Health Ministry said the Covid-19 alert level in Thailand is currently at level 3 [from a total of five], in which people can presently visit restaurants and various venues, but there is still a risk of getting infected,” she said.

    “Where New Year events are concerned, the organisers must adhere to Covid-19 Free Setting and universal prevention measures to contain the spread of virus,” she warned.

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  • S Landreth
    No cakewalk seen for Prayut in next election

    Politicians are gearing up for a possible general election next year, even though Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insists his military-backed coalition government will complete its four-year term in 2023.

    Key indicators include a rift within the ruling Palang Pracharath Party as well as a constitutional amendment that introduced electoral changes favouring Thailand's larger parties.

    In September, Gen Prayut sacked two ministers shortly after surviving a censure debate in parliament against him and some Cabinet members.

    Political sources said the premier found that the two ministers had conspired to oust him alone in the no-confidence debate. Despite a degree of reconciliation in the party, conflict remains.

    Trakoon Meechai, an associate professor of Chulalongkorn University's Political Science Faculty, told Kyodo News that the chance of the government completing its four-year-term is slim if Gen Prayut cannot withstand the political pressure, with the situation aggravated by the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

    "If the country faces a severe resurgence of Covid-19, the premier may not be able to hold onto power. He could face replacement or decide to dissolve the lower house," he said.

    The Prayut-led administration has faced criticism over its pandemic management.

    Although the election could be a way to relieve political tension in the country, the path ahead is smooth neither for Gen Prayut nor his political rivals.

    Those rivals include the largest opposition Pheu Thai Party, which consists of supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and is strong in rural areas, and the Move Forward Party, which also opposes military influence in politics and is mainly supported by the younger generation.


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  • S Landreth
    PM orders humanitarian aid for some 4,000 people fleeing fighting in Myanmar

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed local officials in Thailand’s western border province of Tak to provide humanitarian aid and temporary shelter to about 4,000 people fleeing the fighting in Myanmar.

    Deputy Defence Minister General Chaichan Changmongkol said on Monday that the prime minister also assigned Tak’s governor to oversee the overall border situation, with military support.

    Some of them who were infected with COVID-19 have been isolated and sent for treatment in hospital. All seeking refuge are now sheltering in Mae Tao and Mahawan sub-districts.

    Thai security officials predict that fighting between Myanmar government forces and Karen rebels will intensify, as reinforcements, including armoured vehicles, have been sent to the war zone across the border from Tak’s Mae Sot district, by the Myanmar government.

    The officials expect more Burmese, mostly of the ethnic Karen tribe, to flee into Thailand, as many have been seen sheltering in forests near Mae Ku sub-district.

    Meanwhile a bridge, which was built by the Thai government for Myanmar on the Asian highway about 60km from the Thai border in Kawkareik township, sustained heavy damage in an explosion, but it is still passable by small vehicles.

    The Karen National Union, the main command of the Karen rebels, which has been fighting for their independence for the past several decades, has instructed its troops to shoot any strangers venturing into their areas on sight.

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  • S Landreth
    Prayut urges govt agencies to continue with ‘reshaping Thailand’ policies

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed relevant agencies to proceed with policies to reshape the country, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Monday.

    So far, Thailand has adjusted its tourism strategy by focusing on 3Rs, namely:

    • Reopen (Q3 2021): Pilot reopening under the Phuket Sandbox scheme.
    • Recover (Q4 2022): Thailand opened more provinces to foreign travellers on November 1 in a bid to boost the economy.
    • Resilient (2023-2027): Turning the tourism sector into a high-value, sustainable revenue earner.

    Thanakorn added that the Tourism and Sports Ministry is concerned about several other countries adjusting their entry policy due to the easily transmissible Omicron variant.

    He added that Thailand is also planning to open borders with neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

    The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects up to 15 million tourists next year with some 1.8 trillion baht being generated once the land borders are reopened.

    Thanakorn said the premier wants government agencies to consider both the economic and public health aspects when reopening the country. Enforcing strict measures while allowing economic activities will help boost confidence among tourists and allow the sector to build a strong foundation for high-value, sustainable tourism.

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  • S Landreth
    PM concerned about dust problem

    Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha is concerned about people in Bangkok and its vicinity who face the problem of PM 2.5 dust that has exceeded the health standard in some areas, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Thursday.

    Following the premier’s concern, the Public Health Ministry is preparing to open an online pollution clinic and prepare dust-free rooms in public health service facilities for high-risk groups such as children and the elderly.

    It is expected that the PM 2.5 dust problem in Bangkok and its vicinity will head above the standard during the period of December 15-18, but there is a chance the situation will improve during the December 19-21 period.

    However, on December 22 and 23 there may be a chance that dust levels will rise further.:

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  • S Landreth
    Prayut worried New Year parties will spark new wave, orders health ministry to crack the whip

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Saturday instructed the Public Health Ministry to issue an official rule that all visitors to large New Year festivals present proof of vaccination and ATK tests taken no more than 72 hours ago.

    Prayut worried New Year parties will spark new wave, orders health ministry to crack the whip
    Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said event organisers are required to strictly adhere to the ministry’s Covid Free Setting measures.

    Visitors to events with more than 1,000 people are required to be fully vaccinated and present antigen test results taken within 72 hours. For smaller events, visitors are only expected to present proof of being fully jabbed.

    Thanakorn also asked people to not fall for fraudsters who offer to issue Covid-19 vaccination certificates for those who have not been jabbed. Both fraudsters and users will be punished in this case because they could spread the disease.

    A correct certificate will have a QR Code which will display information about the vaccinee, the doctor who administered the jab, the brand of the dose and its bottle number.

    He added that the premier was worried about restrictions being eased over the New Year, such as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration allowing restaurants to serve booze on New Year’s Eve until 1am.

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