Posts Tagged ‘Thai news’

Anti-Government Protestors In Many Provinces Protested The Thai PM’s COVID-19 Policy

August 2, 2021

On August 1st, 2021, anti-government protesters took to the streets in Bangkok and other provinces, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
From Democracy Monument in the center of Bangkok to Don Mueang airport, drivers honked horns and motorcyclists raised their three fingers in a gesture of resistance inspired by “The Hunger Games” movie.
A 47-year-old protester speaking from his car revealed only his first name “Chai” for fear of government reprisals: “We can barely make a living now, all of my family members have been affected.”
“The government failed to provide vaccines on time, and many of us have not received any vaccine,” he said, “The government will ignore us if we don’t come out to make our calls.”
There were also protests in Tak, Khon Kaen, Kanchanaburi, Surat Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Phetchabun, and Nakhon Ratchasima.
An organizer from Nakhon Sawan seeking anonymity said, “We cannot accept the mismanagement of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on the Covid issue.”
In Kanchanaburi, Jessica Iem-un, a rally coordinator, expressed the same level of frustration, saying that the government should step down because it failed to handle the pandemic.
By the end of 2021, the government intends to inoculate 50 million people, but only 5.8% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 21% have received at least one dose.
Thailand reported 18,027 new cases and 133 more deaths from Covid-19 on August 2, bringing the total number of accumulated cases to 615,314 and the number of fatalities to 4,990.

Personal Note: There was indeed a protest in Ubon Ratchathani on August 21, 2021, in the afternoon. I could hear it from my house.

I could hear it, but I could not see it. A foreign friend told me today that there was a protest at the Rajabaht Univesity in Ubon. It is very close to my home.

I wish that I could have seen it and taken photos.

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The FIrst Expats To Arrive in Phuket Under The Sandbox Are Interviewed

July 3, 2021

According to the local tourism office, the first group of foreign tourists to arrive on Phuket under the sandbox tourism program enjoyed their stay on the island.,

According to Nanthasiri Ronsiri, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phuket office, Israeli tourists who visited the Old Town on the island’s first day of reopening were impressed by the locals and the food.
Nathasiri said that the group, including Israeli tourists, tour groups, and members of the press, will spend a week in Phuket and visit many islands and communities.
A community leader in Phuket’s Old Town, Somyot Pathan, said tourists brought joy to residents, praising them for adhering to social-distancing measures.
Somyot reports that tourists from Dubai visited the Old Town recently.
Nanthasiri estimates that Phuket welcomed 2,435 tourists recently.
On Thursday, the first day of the reopening, 326 passengers landed on four flights from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore. On Friday, about 500 people were expected to arrive.Phuket Sandbox is part of the government’s plan to reopen the kingdom to foreign tourists without requiring them to undergo quarantine.
Visitors with vaccinations must stay in Phuket for 14 days before traveling to other provinces.
On July 15, 2021, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao will open their doors to foreign tourists without quarantine requirements. Phuket’s postcard-perfect beaches were visited by travelers within 24 hours of receiving a Covid-19 test result.
They were the first people to arrive in the country. Sigal Baram, visiting with her husband and friends from Israel, said, “This is the perfect place to just relax and clean our minds, ou heads, after a long time.”
The ‘Phuket Sandbox’ initiative allows fully vaccinated tourists to move freely on the island without being quarantined, although masks are required in most public areas.
Local street vendors said they had not been affected by the return of tourists, despite the fact that hotels and restaurants welcomed them back.
It is unlikely that street vendors will get money from overseas tourists… the money will instead go to hotels and restaurants, said Yupin Pap, a massage therapist who lost her job during the pandemic and became a street vendor selling food on the beach.
Last year, Thailand lost 160 billion baht in tourism revenues as foreign arrivals plummeted 83%.
Bangkok was particularly hard hit by job losses and business closures.
“I see the shops closed, which is a big change from before,” said Omar Alraeesi, who visits Phuket every year from the United Arab Emirates.
There were millions of people visiting Phuket every year before the pandemic, and the government and industry hope the reopening will help save its battered economy.

The Phuket COVID-19 Sandbox Program Starts Today

July 1, 2021

On July 1, 2021, the Phuket Tourism Sandbox, a pilot phase of Thailand’s ambitious tourism reopening plan, will open on the resort island amid hope and fear.

Many businesses rely heavily on tourism to boost their profit margins, but locals fear that the pro-tourism program may result in a new outbreak of Covid-19.

In the third quarter of this year from July to September, Phuket is expected to attract over 100,000 foreign tourists, generating about 8.9 billion baht in tourism revenue.

Four hundred twenty-six passengers and three thousand sixteen hundred outbound travellers will use 426 flights in July. Anucha Burapachaisri, a government spokesman, said the southern island province will average 13 flights per day.

According to Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), 249 tourists are scheduled to arrive in Thailand Thursday on flights from Israel, Abu Dhabi and Qatar under the Phuket Sandbox programme.

He said the tourists will remain in Phuket for at least 14 days, during which they will undergo two more Covid-19 tests to ensure they are free of Coronavirus.

Phuket hopes to strike a balance between driving the economy with tourism and controlling the spread of Covid-19 from July 1, according to provincial governor Narong Wunsiew.

According to him, foreign visitors arriving in Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox programme are not the ones worrying the province when it comes to outbreak containment. Those who will arrive in the province by land from within Thailand.

The Chatchai security checkpoint, the main Covid-19 checkpoint on the road leading to Phuket, still needs more staff and technology to ensure that everyone entering the island is thoroughly screened, he said.

“Only those with proof of vaccination against Covid-19 will be allowed into Phuket,” he said.

Under the tourism sandbox programme, Patong beach appears to be the most popular destination for foreign tourists.

He said 1,671 visitors had booked 383 rooms at hotels in the Patong beach area.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit Phuket on July 1, 2021.

On arrival at Phuket international airport, he will greet and welcome foreign tourists and visit the security checkpoint.

Local health group president Manot Saithong said that according to an online survey of 1,112 residents, the most common concern is that tourists under the tourism sandbox programme could bring a more virulent variant of the coronavirus into the province and cause a new outbreak.

Foreign tourists also have doubts about whether they will strictly follow the control measures imposed on them by Covid-19, Manot said.

Thailand has also raised doubts over the effectiveness of Covid-19 screening among Thai tourists, he said, adding that if a new outbreak occurs in Phuket, young people will be affected since they are the only group of the population without vaccination.

Don Limnanthaphisit, president of a club of residents in Phuket’s old town, has called for stricter Covid-19 screening at all schools for students who may have contracted the virus from their parents who might have contracted it from tourists.

Thanusak Phuengdet, president of Phuket’s Chamber of Commerce, estimates that 13 billion baht will be generated in tourism-related income if all 100,000 foreign tourists who have already booked their visits to Phuket in the next three months actually come, he said.

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The Thai PM Apologizes For Slowness of COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out

June 9, 2021

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha admitted on June 9th, 2021, there had been some delays in the government’s mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign that launched on June 8th, 2021, but promised this would improve as more supplies were received.
“I must apologize to anyone who experienced inconvenience,” he said after the cabinet meeting at Government House.
On June 9th, 2021, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha acknowledged there had been some delays in the government’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign, but he promised that this would improve as more supplies arrive.
He apologized to anyone who was inconvenienced after the cabinet meeting at Government House.
The PM said the government was receiving vaccines in gradual lots rather than all at once, which limited the distribution of vaccines.
“The government will try to acquire as many vaccines as possible rather than wait for contracted vaccines,” General Prayut said. “I think more vaccine doses will be delivered next month and services at inoculation stations in the provinces will be improved.”
“We do not want people who have registered for vaccinations to experience any further delays.”
When vaccines become available, they will be distributed to infected people, at-risk workers, tourists, and key economic areas added the Thai PM.
At least 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered to the Thai people, the prime minister said.
Sinovac signed agreements to buy 61 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced by Siam Bioscience and six million doses from Sinovac.
The government will also order eight million more doses from Sinovac, 25 million from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson, and hope to negotiate for additional supplies.
Additionally, the government will receive a vaccine developed in Thailand, he said.
More than 400,000 doses of vaccination have been administered since June 7th, 2021. General Prayut said the country has now received more than 4 million vaccinations.
More than one million doses of Sinovac vaccine will arrive in Thailand tomorrow, according to Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary of public health. On June 14, AstraZeneca will boost supplies. In the last few weeks, 750,000 doses of Sinovac have been distributed throughout the country.
Anutin Charnvirakul, the Minister of Public Health, said vaccines had been allocated to all provinces, and it was up to officials to distribute them widely.

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Thai Bits: Thai Vaccine Plan, Foreign Ownership Quota Debated

May 23, 2021

Believe It or Not, There is Thai Government Vaccine Plan

Thailand plans to procure 100 million doses of vaccine and inoculate 50 million people by the end of the year.
So far, six million SinoVac vaccines and 117,000 AstraZeneca vaccines have been procured.
Among Thailand’s 69 million people, 1.65 million have received a vaccine shot and 892,245 have received two doses.
Over 7.4 million people have registered to be vaccinated through the government.
It is unclear whether Siam Bioscience, the local manufacturer of AstraZeneca vaccines, will meet its target of producing six million doses by June. However, the media understands there has been a problem scaling production, so the target will not be met.
The Ministry of Public Health said recently that other vaccines are incoming. Here is the plan:
Pfizer – A delivery of 5-10 million doses is expected for the second half of 2021
Moderna – Expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2021
Johnson and Johnson – Expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2021
Sputnik V – Still at the initial stage of negotiation


Foreign Ownership Quotas Should Be Raised

The acting director-general of the Real Estate Information Center is urging the government to raise the foreign ownership quota to 70 percent or higher in certain areas, and for condos exceeding 5 million baht, as that is the price range of most Thai buyers.
Thai owners in those buildings could be protected by limiting foreigners’ voting rights in juristic persons, he said. Foreigners could also be allowed to buy low-rise houses priced at 15 million baht or higher, he said.
In 2018 – 2020, foreigners accounted for 30.3 percent of condo purchases in Chon Buri, followed by Chiang Mai at 18.5 percent, Phuket at 17 percent, Bangkok at 7.8 percent, and Samut Prakan at 6.3 percent. The government has floated the idea of increasing foreign ownership quotas, though it hasn’t yet developed any policies for it.

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Expats Can Register To Get Vaccine After June 7th 2021

May 22, 2021

Foreigners in Thailand will be able to register at vaccination centres for Covid-19 on June 7th, 2021, when the mass vaccination campaign begins, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said recently. 

Deputy spokesman Natapanu Nopakun said the vaccination campaign would begin on June 7th, 2021.

Foreigners could register to get their vaccine shots at designated hospitals and health centera near their homes.

During a daily briefing, he said vaccination is paramount for Thailand’s safety, and later repeated the message via Twitter.

On May 4th, 2021, the Public Health Ministry notified foreign communities that priority would be given to vaccinating Thais first, causing confusion and bewilderment.

It reversed the decision on May 6, 2921, announcing equal access to the vaccine for Thais as well as foreigners to create herd immunity.

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The Thai Government Sets The Goals of the Bangkok COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

May 13, 2021

One of the main focus of the vaccination effort is to get 5 million Bangkok resident within 2 months so that Bangkok can reach herd immunity as soon as possible.
So far, only 5 percent of the Bangkok population have been vaccinated against the pandemic.
Since April 2021, about 20,000 people have been infected by COVID-19.
The goal of the Public Health Ministry is administer 100,00 doas per dfay in Bangkok. The areas around the new Bang Sue Railway Central Station are going to be used as a vaccination hub. Officially, only people 18 and older in Bangkok can get the vaccination. Other resident and migrants who are not registered will still be part of Bangkok’s vaccination campaign, according to deputy director-general of the Disease Control Department.
The AsatraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines will be a part of the mass vaccination campaign, according to the chairperson of the government’s sub-committee on vaccination management, Sopon Mekthon.
In May 2021, the Thai government does expect more vaccine deliveries including 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca doses and 2.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine.
Recently, the Khlong Toey area of Bangkok has become a hotspot and a mass viccantiona campaign has already started. Hundreds of people have been tested positive. Some of the infected cannot afford to take time off work to self-isolate. The crowded conditions in this poor community have not helped, either.
Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Thai PM, says that so far, the number of people registered to get the vaccine is below what the Thai government.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says those who have now registered for a Covid-19 vaccine is below the target set by the government. Approximately 1.6 million people who are over 60, or who have an underlying health condition that puts them at risk of a severe Covid-19 infection, have signed up for the vaccine, of whom only 500,000 are in Bangkok. The Thai PM also said the following:
“We need to vaccinate as many people as possible so that Thailand can move forward… All types of (Covid-19) vaccines imported by the government are extremely safe and effective, as they are certified by the Public Health Ministry. They are used by millions worldwide, including many country leaders.”
Thailand plans to vaccinate 50 million people by the end of the year.

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Thai Bits: Expats In Thailand Can Set Appointment For Vaccine in June, BOI Promotion Working, Thai Holidays in May

May 10, 2021

Foreigners eligible to register for vaccines in June 2021

The Thai government has stated that foreigners living and working in Thailand will receive vaccinations and should be able to sign up in June, but the Mor Phrom app cannot register foreigners and the government is still working on a way of registering foreign residents.
Priority groups include medical workers, the elderly, people with one or more diseases, people living in clusters, people living in the border areas and foreign health volunteers.
As of June 1, foreigners working at embassies, international institutions and foreigners legally residing in Thailand will be eligible for the locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine based on their health and willingness to be vaccinated.

BOI promotion rose 143% year-on-year in Quarter 1

In the first quarter of 2021, foreign direct investment projects that applied for special BOI promotion rose 143 percent year on year. South Korea, China and Singapore dominated the top three source countries during the January-March quarter, with combined application value reaching 62 billion baht. Medical services grew the fastest. During April, 75 companies with an investment value of almost 8 billion baht applied for Foreign Business Licenses, focusing mainly on petroleum extraction, logistics services, mass transit services, advertising, and marketing.

Thai Holidays in May

Coronation Day, May 4th,2021
This celebrated the crowning of the current king of Thailand: Rama 10 or Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

Royal Ploughing Day, May 10th, 2021`
In one of the Buddhist temples in Bangkok, a buffalo or cow goes around the temple 9 times as 9 is considered lucky in Thailand. After completing his journey, the buffalo or cow is given food. If it likes the food, it will be a good Thia harvest. IF it does not like the food, ti will be a bad harvest.

Visakha Bucha Day, May 26th,2021
The three major events in the life of Buddha are commemorated on Visakha Bucha Day: his birth, his enlightenment, and his death.
During Visakha Bucha Day, the devout visit their local temples to attain merit by giving donations and participating in various rituals. During their stay, they listen to sermons on Buddha’s teachings, meditate, recommit themselves to follow the precepts of Buddhism, and serve food to temple workers. Some also set free birds or fish as a method of eliminating negative karma.
Thai law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages on Visakha Bucha Day, so many bars close temporarily. Many of Thailand’s celebrations are religious and private, but tourists are allowed to visit the many temples.

The Thai DES Is Watching The Internet and It Does Not Like What It Sees

May 5, 2021

May 1st, 2021 was the birth of the new Facebook group Let’s Move Abroad and the Thai Economy and Society (DES) Ministry is closely watching this group.
This group does not like how the Thai government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
After four days, the group has grown quickly to about 650,000 members who share tips about working and studying abroad. The government alleges that posts about Thai politics and the Thai Royal Family have been put on this group. They are considered sensitive issues.
Chaiwut Thanakhamnusorn, the Thai DES Minister, said that the working panel at DES is watching this group closely and is going to take legal action against a post that they feel is illegal. In general, the groups does provide good information about living and studying about. He thinks that this type of information should be encouraged.
Many state agencies, like the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation, and the Education Ministry, do support Thais that want to seek a career or study overseas.
DES Minister does admit that many posts may look like that they are just offering tips that actually have a political agenda. They want to offend the Royal institution and to cause divisiveness.
Chaiwut wants group members not to share data or advice that could hurt the relationship between Thailand and other countries. For example, they should not provide info about how to get through immigration checks in other countries.
The DES minister has a warning for group members that they should watch out for scammers that go after people who want to work and study abroad.
There is a digital Big Brother in Thailand and it is apparently the DES.

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Thai Bits: COVID-19 Is Going to Hurt Economy in 2021, A COVID-19 Test Story in Phuket

May 3, 2021

COVID-19 is not just bad for Thais, it is bad for the Thai economy as well.
In recent months, the economic forecast for Thailand has been lowered to 2.3 percent as the outlook for tourism remains really poor as Thailand is experiencing a COVID-19 third wave.
The Thai Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal Policy Office forecast a 4.5 percent economic growth in 2021. This was partly based on the fact that COVID-19 appears to be weakening.
2.4 percent. In May 2021, it has dropped to 2.3 percent. By January 2021, the second wave had hit Thailand and the Ministry changed its predictions to 2.8 percent.
The Thai economic forecast assumes the Thai government will propose a stimulus package between May 2021 and the end of the fiscal year on September 30th.
According to the Finance Ministry, there is the hope of an economic recovery in the fourth quarter of the year. This could mean Thailand ends the year 2021 with 2.8 percent growth.
During the first two waves, Thailand did relatively well. However, the third wave has infected many more people in Thailand and the vaccine rollout has been slow. A positive effect from the global economic recovery is being undermined by COVID-19. The Thai economy may lose 100 million Thai baht per month for the rest of 2021.
Thai exports declined by 6.6 percent in 2020. The thriving export sector could achieve as high as 11 percent in 2021.
As much as 12 percent of the Thai economy comes from tourism in a mon-COVID-19 year. Tourism brought in 2 trillion baht in 2019. In 2020, there were delays in reopening to tourists on a large scale.
In total, 6.7 million tourists had arrived in Thailand by 2020. This caused a drastic 83 percent drop in tourism revenue in 2020. The only good thing was that a lot of Chinese tourists came.
At the time when they were more optimistic, they had more plans to open Phuket and tourist spots by July 1st, with Thailand fully open in October. Those plans were dashed by the new pandemic outbreak and tourist projections of two million had been revised downward. This could be a serious blow to the economy.

A Phuket COVID-19 Test Story

Just a heads up for people.
Yesterday we entered Phuket with our family and had to do a rapid Covid19 test. My son (10 years old Dutch/Thai passport holder) also had to do the test.
As expected they charged me 500 Baht but ALSO wanted to charge my son 500 Baht. The reasoning was that he had an English name and didn’t had a Thai ID card (he only has a Thai passport). After about a good 15 minutes of back and forth, they decided they were not going to charge my Thai son. However, it was a very unpleasant experience.
So a heads up for ex-pats with half children, expect some problems if they don’t have their Thai ID card.
Stay safe!

By Tobie Oud