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Monday, August 20, 2018

#Bangkok - Khaosan vendors to ‘disobey’ orders from Monday

Khaosan Road vendors will resort to “civil disobedience” from Monday if Bangkok authorities do not allow them to sell their wares during daylight hours, a leader of the Khaosan Road Street Vendors Association said.

“We will defy the order and set our stalls up at the usual time,” Yada Pornpetrumpa said. 
The vendors are also planning to march to the capital’s City Hall at around 11.30am on Monday to seek permission to sell their wares during the day.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) banned street vendors from trading during daytime since August 1. Though the BMA is coming up with a new regulation to allow trading from 4pm to midnight, vendors at present can only conduct their business from 6pm.

 This time limit has meant a huge drop in income for daytime traders, largely because they have to hand their stalls over at 8pm to vendors who sell at night, Yada explained. 

“It’s like we set our stalls up for nothing. Now, we [daytime vendors] make only Bt500 or Bt1,000 daily,” she added. 

According to the 1992 Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act, vending on the street is illegal. However, since Khaosan Road is known the world over for its vibrant street market, the City Hall decided to draft a municipal order allowing vendors to take over the Khaosan Road footpaths from 4pm to midnight. 

Khaosan vendors, however, said this order would cripple vendors who make a living by selling trinkets to backpackers and Chinese tourists during the daytime. 

Source - TheNation

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

More minors with fake passports trying to leave #Philippines

Immigration officials at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) are alarmed over the growing number of underage Filipino women who try to leave the country and work abroad using fraudulent travel documents.

Since June, a total of 114 girls below 21 years old have been turned away by airport officials, according to Marc Red Mariñas, acting immigration deputy commissioner and Port Operations Division chief.
He said that in June alone, 67 people who confessed to being minors were barred from leaving the country.
Mariñas said that all of the apprehended passengers presented passports showing that they were adults. They also had valid overseas employment permits, working visas and job contracts.


 “It is evident that these young women were victimized by syndicates that specialize in the procurement of documents to make it appear that they are old enough to work abroad,” he added.

40 rescued in raid

Last month, the Manila Police District rescued more than 40 women, some of them minors, during a raid in Sta. Cruz, Manila. They were illegally recruited from Mindanao and offered work as household service workers in Saudi Arabia.

A report from the BI-Naia Travel Control and Enforcement Unit showed that the latest apprehensions involved four girls who were intercepted on Aug. 2 while trying to leave on a Saudia Airlines flight for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The passengers allegedly admitted during investigation that they were below 21 years old although their passports indicated that they were in their late 20s.
They were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking.

Source - TheNation

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Miss Vietnam crowned World Miss Tourism Ambassador 2018

Vietnam’s beauty representative, Phan Thị Mơ, has triumphed over 49 other contestants from around the world to take the crown of World Miss Tourism Ambassador 2018 at the grand final recently held in Thailand.

Mơ was also in the top 18 in the Best Body Category and won the Best Costume for Tourism Promotion. She was highly regarded by both the judges and the audience throughout the competition.

The other contestants entering the top six included representatives from Chile, Hong Kong (China), Thailand, Bolivia and Mongolia. The first runner-up title went to Miss Thailand and the second and third runner-up places were awarded to beauties from Bolivia and Mongolia respectively.

The World Tourism Queen and World Miss Couture titles were awarded to representatives from Hong Kong and Chile respectively.

Mơ was born in 1990 in Tien Giang Province. She finished in the top five at Miss Vietnam World 2010.

During the question and answer session, when asked what her biggest fear in life is, Mo said that because health was the most important thing, her biggest fear was illnesses. 

Before participating, she said this would be the last time she participated in an international beauty pageant and expressed a strong desire to win. Mơ said she was overwhelmed with happiness on hearing her name announced as the winner of the beauty pageant.

World Miss Tourism Ambassador was first held in 2017. This year's beauty pageant was held over 15 days in both Vietnam and Thailand.

Source - The Nation

 Before taking part, Thi Mo said the competition was the final global beauty pageant she would contend and would try her utmost to win. She was able to make her dream come true, winning the highest title of the world pageant.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

#Bangkok - Killing the Khaosan goose

Tourists will desert the area, or even Bangkok, if daytime stalls are not restored, say visitors and street vendors

Khaosan Road – the backpackers’ mecca – has it all, from cheap T-shirts to elephant-print baggy pants, from tattoos to henna painting, from budget guesthouses to massage parlours and even tour packages to southern islands.

The world-famous Bangkok destination attracts hordes of international youth with offers of street food, beer and a chaotic, lively nightlife. Just about everything and anything is available at all times of the day. 

However, the municipal authority wants to bring order to the late-night carnivalesque atmosphere.

Since August 1, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has strictly enforced the rarely-used Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act 1992, which forbids daytime street vending. Under the recent sweep, the street stalls have been banned from doing business in front of guesthouses, cars, cafes and shops during the day. 

City Hall’s plan only allows the previous daytime vendors to hawk their goods and services on the road from 6pm until midnight. The BMA is expected to allow vendors to hawk their wares from 4pm next month onwards. 

 The plan, however, isn’t popular with tourists and shoppers. The authorities are now working to solve this roblem with a public hearing to allow street vendors and store owners to air their views.

From around 9pm to 3am, backpackers use Khaosan as “party central”, rather than a shopping fair, vendors told The Nation on a recent night-time visit. Electronic dance beats can be heard blaring from clubs and bars. 

Along both sides of the road, carts and stalls are lined up, offering late eaters pad Thai and mango sticky rice. Several smiling hawkers offer “laughing gas” or a crispy fried scorpion. Local and foreign partygoers flock the street daily. 

“It’s my first time here in Khaosan. I’d heard that it’s brilliant and fantastic,” said Matthew Bechus, as he and a friend tuck into Thai delicacies at a stall nearby. “Now that the footpaths have been cleared, it’s sad. It’s a big tourist attraction and brings income for people and jobs and everything. I hope it comes back.” 

Russel Green, a tourist from South Africa said the new Khaosan was nothing special.
“If they clear out all the stalls, there will no longer be a reason to come to Khaosan,” he said. 

Green and his friend were “disappointed” while strolling through the area in the afternoon. “I would say tourists under the age of 30 visiting Thailand only come to Bangkok to visit Khaosan Road. Without Khaosan, they will have no reason to visit Bangkok. They will go straight to Phuket,” he predicted.


Under the new restrictions, Khaosan Road now looks like any other place in Thailand. While most of the 30-million annual visitors are foreign, not all choose to stay in the area’s hostels, guesthouses and hotels. 

Rujira Raokhekit, a Thai who came with her boyfriend, said: “I have been here many times at night for parties. I don’t usually come to Khaosan during the day, but I think today it is quieter than before.” 

The peak selling hours for vendors and stall owners used to be from 2pm to 5.30pm, vendors said. After 8pm, people usually come for food, music and beer. 

When daytime trading was banned, Bangkok officials allowed them to set up stalls from 6pm, which vendors say will only give them three hours to sell their goods. 

“After that, the music is too loud and the crowd is not in the mood for shopping,” said Sukwasa Kurattana-sinchai, who has been selling T-shirts on Khaosan since the Tom Yum Kung crisis hit Thailand in 1997. 

“Most of our customers are backpackers who came to stay in budget guesthouses. They often travel light and come here specifically to buy comfy cotton pants and sleeveless T-shirts to wear for their whole trip,” Sukwasa said, as she waved at a group of backpackers. 

She said that from about 8am until late afternoon, Chinese tourists would normally drop by Khaosan after visiting the Grand Palace and enjoy an hour-long shopping spree. Most foreign tourists visit Khaosan in the morning for souvenirs before their flights home in the afternoon. 
Most vendors believe that clearing out the stalls is a bad move. 

“The prices in shops are usually high, which is probably why the stalls are banned in the afternoon,” said another vendor as he waited to set up his bag stall at 6pm. “Now you see most tourists walking without any shopping bags.” 

If the ban continues, tourists will not bother to visit Khaosan, he said. “They won’t even stay close to Khaosan. Why should they? There is nothing to buy during the day. They could book a hotel in Pratunam or Bo Bae [two famous shopping districts a half-hour ride from Khaosan] and take a tuk-tuk to Khaosan for the nightlife,” he said.

Bangkok deputy governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul said after a meeting with related agencies on Friday that to help solve the problem, the BMA will draft a regulation allowing Khaosan vendors to trade from 4pm until midnight.

The regulation will includes pavement trading in nearby streets of Banglamphu such as Rambutri, Chakrabongse, Krai Sri, Sip Sam Hang and Tani.

Over the next 10 days, Phra Nakhon district will collect opinions from street vendors and building owners. “All vendors must register with Commerce Ministry. We will make it legal and transparent,” he said.

“We are trying to find the middle ground for everyone. The street vendors can’t have everything. They can’t expect to use the footpaths all day.” 

He added that the vendors must not block the footpaths and stalls can be no bigger than 1.5 square metres. 

“We will also ensure that there is one stall per vendor,” Sakoltee said in response to claims by Bangkok officials that some vendors owned as many as seven stalls.

 Yada Pornoetrumpa, president of Khaosan Road Street Vendors Association, said: “The officials don’t understand the situation of Khaosan. Many vendors trade in the daytime.

 “Ideally, I want Khaosan Road to open 24 hours. They think vendors are greedy. But actually, stalls could help look after the street’s hygiene.” 

Source - TheNation 

Ps, It go look like ''The hate foreigner tourists'' 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thailand's 'jet-set' monk sentenced to 114 years in prison

A former Thai Buddhist monk who provoked outrage with his lavish lifestyle was sentenced on Thursday to 114 years in prison after a court found him guilty of fraud, money laundering and computer crimes.

Wirapol Sukphol, who was seen in a YouTube video in 2013 holding wads of cash on a private jet, returned to Thailand in July 2017 after being extradited from the United States where he had fled.

Wirapol, formerly known by his monastic name Luang Pu Nenkham, was expelled from the monkhood in 2013 after the video surfaced. He was accused of having sexual intercourse - a grave offence for monks - with an underage girl, among other charges.

He later fled to the United States.

A criminal court in Bangkok sentenced Wirapol to 114 years in prison though he will only serve 20 years because Thai law stipulates that is the maximum for someone found guilty of multiple counts of the same offence.

"He committed fraud by claiming to have special power to lure in people and he also bought many luxury cars which is considered a money-laundering offence," an official at the Department of Special Litigation told Reuters. 


The official declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

"The court found him guilty of multiple offences which resulted in a 114-year jail term when combined, which means he will actually serve 20 years in jail," he said.

Neither Wirapol nor his lawyer were available for comment.

Wirapol faces separate charges of child molestation and child abduction. A verdict in that case is expected in October.

Wirapol's high-profile case highlighted a series of sex and money scandals that have rockedThailand's Buddhist clergy in recent years, resulting in calls for reforms of religious institutions.

The military government that came to power after a 2014 coup has stepped up efforts to clean up Buddhism by arresting monks involved in corruption scandals and through the introduction of a bill that reduces the influence of Buddhism's Sangha Supreme Council - the governing body of Buddhist monk
Source - TheJakartaPost

Strong 5.9-magnitude quake jolts Indonesia's #Lombok

Mataram, Indonesia - A strong aftershock struck Indonesia's Lombok on Thursday, causing panic among evacuees sheltering after a devastating earthquake killed more than 160 on the holiday island four days earlier.

The 5.9-magnitude quake Thursday struck at a shallow depth in the northwest of the island, the US Geological Survey said, even as relief agencies raced to find survivors among wreckage from Sunday's quake.

    "The quake was felt strongly. There have been 355 aftershocks since Sunday," national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

    Evacuees at a shelter in northern Lombok's Tanjung district ran out onto the road crying and screaming, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

    Motorcycles parked on the street toppled over and the walls of some nearby buildings collapsed.

    A woman wearing a motorbike helmet was seen crying with her two daughters in her arms.
    "We were stuck in the traffic while delivering aid, suddenly it felt like our car was hit from behind, it was so strong," witness Sri Laksmi told AFP.
 "People in the street began to panic and got out of their cars, they ran in different directions in the middle of the traffic."
     The aftershock comes after Sunday's devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake, which relief agencies said had wiped out entire villages in the worst-hit regions of northern and western Lombok.

    A total of 164 people have been confirmed killed in Sunday's quake, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP, with a further 1,400 seriously injured and more than 150,000 displaced.

    Relief efforts had yet to reach parts of the island even before Thursday's aftershock, Indonesian authorities said, with hopes fading of finding further survivors among the wreckage.

    "The earthquake does not have any tsunami potential," Hary Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia's meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG), said of Thursday's aftershock.

Source - TheNation

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

#Thailand - Jet-skis, parasail rides banned until Thursday on Phuket’s west coast

The acting chief of the Phuket Marine Office has announced a ban on jet-ski and parasail ride operators using Phuket’s west-coast beaches, including today. 

 Wiwat Chitcherdwong said: “According to the Thai Meteorological Department Office, heavy rain and high waves of up to 3 metres are still affecting the Andaman Sea until Thursday, August 9.” 

“Jet-skis and parasails are now being banned until the order is changed.” he added.

 Source - TheNation