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  • Israel closes borders to all foreigners over Omicron

    Israel is to close its borders to all foreigners later Sunday in a bid to stem the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, authorities said. “The entry...

    The post Israel closes borders to all foreigners over Omicron first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    Israel is to close its borders to all foreigners later Sunday in a bid to stem the spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, authorities said.

    “The entry of foreign nationals into Israel is banned except for cases approved by a special committee,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, adding that the measure would take effect on Sunday evening.

    Israeli citizens will be required to present a negative PCR test and quarantine themselves for three days if they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and seven days if they have not.

    It was only four weeks ago that Israel reopened its borders to foreign tourists after a prolonged closure due to Covid.

    The measure were decided by a cabinet committee tasked with overseeing Israel’s Covid response and must be approved by the whole cabinet on Sunday morning.

    The government’s latest announcement came just hours before the start at sundown of the eight-day-long Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.

    It already imposed a series of emergency measures late Friday to protect its heavily vaccinated population after identifying a case of the new Covid-19 variant.

    The health ministry said the new strain that was first detected by South Africa — known as B.1.1.529 — was discovered in a person who had arrived from Malawi.

    Two more suspected cases have been detected in people returning from abroad, it said, adding that all three, who had been vaccinated, were placed in quarantine. The government later announced another suspected case.

    Scientists in South Africa said on Thursday that they had detected the new B.1.1.529 variant with at least 10 mutations, compared with two for Delta or three for Beta.

    The strain was of “serious concern” and had been blamed for a surge in infections, the authorities in South Africa said.

    It has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, as well as in Belgium.

    The new variant “is concerning and has the potential to be very dangerous. We are raising a red flag,” Israeli Prome Minister Naftali Bennett said late Friday.

    He said Israel would order 10 million PCR test kits.

    Israel was one of the first countries to launch vaccines against the coronavirus last year, thanks to a deal with Pfizer that gave it access to millions of doses in exchange for data on the vaccine’s efficacy.

    Its initial vaccine rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab was among the world’s fastest, and more than 5.7 million of the country’s nine million people are now fully vaccinated.

    The post Israel closes borders to all foreigners over Omicron first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    Coronavirus Outbreak Update
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279945
  • Has Prayut’s order as junta chief put Thailand on gold miner’s chopping block?

    New developments in negotiations between the Thai government and mining company Kingsgate Consolidated have left the public worried that Thailand will either have to pay billions of baht in compensation...

    The post Has Prayut’s order as junta chief put Thailand on gold miner’s chopping block? first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    New developments in negotiations between the Thai government and mining company Kingsgate Consolidated have left the public worried that Thailand will either have to pay billions of baht in compensation or leave many of its residents struggling with adverse health and environmental impacts.

    Australia-based Kingsgate filed a complaint against the Thai government with an arbitral tribunal in Singapore. The company claims that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha violated the Thailand-Australia free-trade agreement when he ordered the January 1, 2017 closure of its Chatree gold mine.

    Prayut issued the order in his capacity as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) following locals’ long-standing complaints that the mine was damaging their health and environment. The gold mine, which straddles Phitsanulok, Phetchabun and Phichit provinces, was operated by Kingsgate subsidiary Akara Resources.

    If the tribunal rules in favor of Kingsgate, Thailand may end up paying compensation of about US$750 million (Bt25.23 billion).

    When is the ruling expected?

    The tribunal was initially scheduled to issue its ruling on October 31, but both parties have asked for the verdict to be postponed to January 31 next year, to give them more time to conclude their negotiations.

    According to Kingsgate, talks with the Thai government are making good progress. The company indicated that it expects to receive licenses to resume and expand its mining operations in Thailand, make the most of Board of Investment benefits and get state backing to list Akara Resources on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

    Concerns grow in Thailand

    Premsinee Sinthornthamatuch said her house was damaged by the mine’s operations and is now the last residence standing in Moo 9 of Ban Khao Mor in Phichit’s Thab Khlo district. About 100 local families were forced to relocate after the Chatree mining operations launched in 2007.

    “We have suffered from the mine operation’s impacts for so long, that many of us are now resigned to our fate,” Premsinee said. “We believe that if the mine is allowed to reopen, we won’t be able to fight against it.”

    She was responding to recent reports suggesting that Kingsgate will win the case.

    “I wonder why the battle is only focusing on compensation. Why isn’t our suffering being taken into account? Why doesn’t the tribunal look into what the mining operator has done to the environment and health of local people,” she asked.

    Long struggle

    Local people had, in fact, been protesting against Chatree mining operations from the outset due to their adverse impacts. They called on the Administrative Court for help in 2010 and four years later the court ordered Akara Resources to suspend its metallurgic operations. The court also blocked a permit allowing the firm to expand its factory.

    In 2015, random blood tests among locals revealed higher than safe levels of heavy metals, which are used in gold mining. The Industry Ministry then suspended Akara Resources’ operations for 30 days.

    In May 2016, locals asked PM Prayut – who was then prime minister in the post-coup junta – to shut down the Chatree mine.

    On December 14, 2016, Prayut exercised his absolute power as NCPO chief to order the mine to shut from January 1, 2017.

    Controversial order?

    Kingsgate first tried to negotiate with Thai authorities, but when talks failed it decided to take the case to the Singapore-based arbitration tribunal. Given that an order from a junta leader is not accepted under international law, the Thai government is clearly at a disadvantage.

    Even the Thailand Arbitration Center (THAC) has described the order as “very controversial”. According to its website, the government paid an American lawyer Bt70 million in 2018 to fight the case. This was the first installment, and total legal costs for Thailand are expected to hit Bt600 million before the case is resolved.

    Industry Ministry permanent secretary Kobchai Sungsitthisawad, who leads the panel trying to settle the dispute with Kingsgate, has not revealed how much the battle will cost Thailand. However, he indicated that the negotiations were based on the tribunal’s advice and would work to the benefit of all sides.

    “Our decision to enter negotiations does not mean we will lose the case,” he insisted. “But I must say, it’s better to settle a dispute out of court rather than be forced to follow the tribunal’s ruling.”

    Thailand’s defense

    Lertsak Kamkongsak, an environmentalist and leader of the Commoners Party, said he does not understand why the government will not reveal the defense strategy it used at the tribunal. He believes that authorities should have collaborated with local residents affected by the mine.

    “As far as I know, Thailand has barely revealed the mining operation’s impact on people’s health and the environment,” said Lertsak, citing information he said came from informed sources.

    Korbchai insists the defense strategy was carefully prepared by the panel, which includes representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Finance, as well as the Auditor General’s Office, aided by experienced legal advisors.

    “As for the negotiations, we have proceeded in line with laws keeping the balance of economy, society, environment and community health in mind. We will be fair to all stakeholders,” Korbchai said.

    Who should be held responsible?

    Lertsak said the government must not hand Kingsgate any benefits beyond the scope of the dispute. For instance, Akara Resources should not be granted mining or exploration licenses for other plots of land.

    “We are going to closely monitor the government, Kingsgate and the arbitral tribunal,” he said. “We will raise public awareness of the issues at national and international levels.”

    Chonlanan Srikaew, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai party, said the government should not sacrifice national interests in an effort to settle a dispute sparked by PM Prayut’s order.

    “Why should Thailand or the Thai people pay for Prayut’s mistake?” he asked.

    His opinion is shared by the Network of Ore-Owning People, which points out that the Constitutional Court has already ruled that, as NCPO chief, Prayut was not a state official. Hence, if the Thai government loses the case because of the NCPO chief’s order, the Thai public should not have to pay for the damages. Neither should the country give up a large portion of its national interest to settle the dispute.

    “Prayut alone should be held responsible,” the network said in a statement earlier this month.

    By Thai PBS World’s General Desk

    The post Has Prayut’s order as junta chief put Thailand on gold miner’s chopping block? first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    General
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279941
  • Long-time French expat and satirist deported and blacklisted by Thai authorities

    A French expatriate, well known for his Tiktok political parodies of Thailand’s military junta, government and monarchy, was forced to fly back to France late last night after he was...

    The post Long-time French expat and satirist deported and blacklisted by Thai authorities first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    A French expatriate, well known for his Tiktok political parodies of Thailand’s military junta, government and monarchy, was forced to fly back to France late last night after he was refused entry at Phuket international airport on Saturday morning by immigration officials, who reportedly handed him a notice describing him as “a threat to Thai society”.

    Yan Marchal, whose Tiktok page has more than 500,000 followers, has been living in Thailand for over 18 years and has two children born to his former Thai wife.

    Marchal was required to go back to Suvarnabhumi international airport, after landing on Phuket, following his return from a visit to France and was barred from re-entry by Thai immigration officials.  He departed Suvarnabhumi on a THAI flight at 23.59pm for Paris.

    According to Pravit Rojanaphruk, of Khao Sod English online news service, he was in contact with Marchal when he was at Phuket airport and the Frenchman said he wanted to appeal against the immigration officials’ order via his lawyer, Natalie Bergman. He also claimed that immigration officials could not force him out of Thailand for 48 hours because he has no criminal record in Thailand.

    Marchal said he could not reach officials at the French embassy in Bangkok because it is weekend, according to Pravit.

    When asked by Pravit whether he regrets that he might not be able to return to Thailand, Marchal replied “Whatever happens, I will have to live with it, so I’d rather look at the upside which I may find in my new life, but I do hope that Thailand’s regime will change for the better someday and enable free speech, which would indeed allow me to come back, and more importantly, result in a better quality of governance, which would provide opportunities to a lot of people.”

    Marchal has been told by his lawyer that, if he stays on to appeal his case, he might face lèse majesté charges and it is better for him to fly home first and to fight the case later.

    The post Long-time French expat and satirist deported and blacklisted by Thai authorities first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    News
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279935
  • U.S. issues ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory for eight African countries

    WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department on Saturday advised against travel to eight southern African countries after the White House announced new travel restrictions...

    The post U.S. issues 'Do Not Travel' advisory for eight African countries first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department on Saturday advised against travel to eight southern African countries after the White House announced new travel restrictions in response to a new COVID-19 variant.

    The CDC raised its travel recommendation to “Level Four: Very High” for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana while the State Department issued parallel “Do Not Travel” advisories Saturday. On Monday, the CDC had lowered its COVID-19 travel advisory for South Africa to “Level 1: Low.”

    The post U.S. issues 'Do Not Travel' advisory for eight African countries first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    Coronavirus Outbreak Update
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279931
  • Airlines notified of Thailand’s restrictions on travellers from 8 African countries

    The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has notified all airlines about the Thai government’s travel restrictions, including the entry ban on travellers from eight African countries now facing, or...

    The post Airlines notified of Thailand’s restrictions on travellers from 8 African countries first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has notified all airlines about the Thai government’s travel restrictions, including the entry ban on travellers from eight African countries now facing, or at risk of facing, the spread of the new coronavirus variant, known as Omicron.

    The countries are Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

    Omicron infections have also been detected in Hong Kong, Israel, Belgium and, most recently, in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

    According to the CAAT’s restrictions, travellers from the eight African nations, who have already been already granted entry permits, will be allowed to enter the country if they arrive before November 30th, but will be required to enter state quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, regardless of whether the permits were granted under “Test and Go” or “sandbox” programs.

    From December 1st, arrivals from these countries will be prohibited from entering Thailand, even if they were issued with permits under “Thailand Pass” system. All entry permits already issued will become invalid and no more entry permits will be granted to citizens from the eight countries until further notice.

    Travellers from other African countries, who have already received entry permits, can enter Thailand until December 14th. After this date they will be required to enter state quarantine for 14 days.

    The CAAT also asked all airlines flying to Thailand to intensify the screening of their passengers, especially those travelling from the eight African countries, and to inform them of the travel restrictions in Thailand.

    The post Airlines notified of Thailand’s restrictions on travellers from 8 African countries first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    Coronavirus Outbreak Update
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279928
  • Laos hopes for economic boost from Chinese-built railway

    A new $6 billion Chinese-built railway line opens in Laos this week, bringing hopes of an economic boost to the reclusive nation, but experts are questioning the benefits of a...

    The post Laos hopes for economic boost from Chinese-built railway first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    A new $6 billion Chinese-built railway line opens in Laos this week, bringing hopes of an economic boost to the reclusive nation, but experts are questioning the benefits of a project that has seen thousands of farmers evicted from their land.

    The 414-kilometre (260-mile) route, due to open on December 3, took five years to construct under China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which funds infrastructure projects aimed at increasing Beijing’s clout globally.

    Struggling strawberry farmer Anouphon Phomhacsar is hoping the new railway will get his business back on track.

    His farm usually produces up to two tonnes of the red heart-shaped fruits a year, but the pandemic has hit the 2021 harvest hard.

    It currently takes Phomhacsar three to four hours to send his strawberries to Vientiane by road, but he hopes the new railway will cut this delivery time in half.

    And he says it will also be easier for tourists to travel to camp under the stars and pick berries.

    “In the future, foreign tourists coming to the farm could be in the tens of thousands,” he told AFP.

    The train route will connect the Chinese city of Kunming to the Laos capital, with grand plans for high-speed rail to ultimately snake down through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore.

    Infrastructure-poor Laos, a reclusive communist-run country of 7.2 million people, previously had only four kilometres of railway tracks.

    But now sleek red, blue and white bullet trains will speed along the new line at up to 160 kmh (100 mph), passing through 75 tunnels and across 167 bridges, stopping at 10 passenger stations.

    – Economic boost –

    Despite registering only dozens of Covid cases until April, Laos’ economy took a pandemic battering — economic growth declined to 0.4 percent in 2020, the lowest level in three decades, according to the World Bank.

    Hopes for a 2021 rebound were dashed — Laos locked down as it clocked up roughly 70,000 infections in the past eight months.

    And while the railway could boost tourism, freight and agriculture, according to a World Bank report, the government needs to undertake substantial reforms, including improving border clearance processes.

    “The new railway is a major investment that has the potential to stimulate the Lao economy and allow the country to take advantage of its geographical position at the heart of mainland Southeast Asia,” Sombath Southivong, a senior World Bank infrastructure specialist, told AFP.

    The tourism industry is desperate for a pick-me-up after the pandemic caused an 80 percent downturn in international traveller numbers in 2020 — 4.7 million foreign tourists visited the previous year.

    Pre-pandemic young nomads crammed on to buses at Vientiane for the four-hour ride to adventure capital Vang Vieng — a journey that will now take about an hour by train.

    The town, which has a former CIA airstrip, was notorious for backpackers behaving badly at jungle parties before it re-branded as a eco-tourism destination.

    But the kayaks, river rafts, ziplines and hot air balloons have been empty of late.

    Inthira — a boutique hotel nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River — shifted from a full occupancy rate to only a trickle of domestic travellers on weekends, says general manager Oscar Tality.

    Tality hopes the railway and reduced travel times will give the industry a shot in the arm.

    “Along the way people will see magnificent views of the mountains and will cross over bridges and tunnels. It will be a wonderful trip for those on the train,” Tality told AFP.

    – White elephant? –

    Despite local optimism, some Laos watchers are concerned about the long-term viability of the project.

    “The issue for Laos though is whether their economy … their private sector is positioned to take advantage of this transport system,” Australian National University lecturer Greg Raymond told AFP.

    Two-thirds of Laotians live in rural villages toiling on the land, and the minimum wage is around $116 a month — a reported $13.30 train fare from Vientiane to the border town of Boten has attracted some social media criticism for being too expensive.

    “When you look at the juxtaposition of this super modern railway and the countryside it is passing through – it’s very stark. One does wonder whether the Laos people will be the beneficiaries?” Raymond said.

    The project has already left some 4,400 farmers and villagers reeling after they were forced to surrender land.

    Many have faced long delays receiving compensation or have been paid inadequate amounts, the Lao Movement for Human Rights said in a report.

    “The compensation rate is very low. If you are asking villagers to move, how can they afford new land?” Laotian MP Vilay Phommixay told parliament in June last year.

    But for others it’s all aboard.

    “There’s great anticipation… there’s a source of pride for the Laos people,” Tality said.

    The post Laos hopes for economic boost from Chinese-built railway first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    ASEAN
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279920
  • Thailand – Sex change capital
    28 November 2021
    Thai PBS World Exclusive
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279921
  • Thailand’s exclusion from global Democracy Summit ‘a warning sign’ to Prayut’s govt

    Thailand is not among the 111 countries invited by US President Joe Biden to attend the “Summit for Democracy” he will host in early December. For government critics and opposition...

    The post Thailand’s exclusion from global Democracy Summit ‘a warning sign’ to Prayut’s govt first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    Thailand is not among the 111 countries invited by US President Joe Biden to attend the “Summit for Democracy” he will host in early December.

    For government critics and opposition politicians, this was a big slap in the face for the Thai government.

    However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry played down Thailand’s exclusion from the summit. Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai described the event as “purely political” while a ministry spokesman said that whether invited or not, the Kingdom’s respect for principles of democracy and human rights remain unchanged.

    A mixed bag of invitees

    The virtual gathering, described by the media as “the first of its kind”, will be held on Dec 9 and 10.

    Of the participating countries, 27 will be from the Americas, 39 from Europe, 18 from Africa, and 26 from Asia and the Pacific.

    The list of invitees includes liberal democracies, weaker democracies, and several states with authoritarian characteristics, says a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace article published on its website last Monday (Nov 22).

    Of all the 111 invited countries, including the US, 77 rank as “free” or fully democratic, according to Freedom House’s 2021 report. Another 31 invitees rank as “partly free”, and three countries fall into the “not free” category.

    It appears that Biden’s selection team opted not to limit participation to a core group of committed democracies.

    The summit invitations were apparently based on US strategic interests on a global scale, in addition to the democratic status and geopolitical significance of the invited countries, analysts said.

    They said the invite list revealed the Biden administration’s struggle to balance wider US national security interests, such as countering a rising China, with higher ideals.

    Implications for Thailand

    Analysts describe Washington’s exclusion of Thailand from the summit as a warning signal, although they foresee no significant impact on Thai-US relations.

    Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of Ubon Ratchathani University’s Faculty of Political Science, reckoned that this was just a signal from Biden’s administration that Thailand should boost its commitment to democracy and human rights. He did not think the US wanted to cut ties with Thailand.

    “The non-invitation does have some implications but not significant ones for Thai-US relations. The US still provides assistance projects for Thailand through USAID [United States Agency for International Development],” he said.

    In August, USAID and the Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) expanded development cooperation between Washington and Bangkok with a $5-million (Bt165 million) strategic partnership. The partnership will provide development assistance to other countries in Southeast Asia.

    However, Titipol pointed out that Thailand’s exclusion from the summit could be interpreted as Washington’s refusal to endorse the Thai government as democratic.

    Thailand is categorized as a “flawed democracy” and ranked 73rd out of 167 countries on the Democracy Index 2020, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. This is a slight downgrade from a year earlier, when the country ranked 68th.

    Titipol explained that Prayut Chan-o-cha’s legitimacy as prime minister is in question, since he staged the 2014 coup while serving as Army chief and then retained power through the current junta-sponsored Constitution.

    Moreover, the US may view that Thailand has made no significant progress on democracy and human rights, he added.

    “We have to wait and see if Biden will compromise [about this matter]. Earlier, it appeared the US was going to take some action against Thailand, but instead they compromised,” said the analyst.

    “In the end, it [any decision on this matter] depends on US interests in this region. During the COVID-19 crisis especially, many Western countries are seeking good ties in this region,” he added.

    The summit’s key themes

    The Democracy Summit has three aims, according to the US Department of State: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

    The event is being billed as a test of President Biden’s ambition to return the US to global leadership, to face down authoritarian forces led by China and Russia. Biden announced this aim in his first foreign policy address as president in February.

    Rights groups praised Biden’s pledge to reinstate the promotion of rights and freedoms as a US foreign policy priority, after the disinterested approach of his predecessor Donald Trump, Reuters reported.

    Titipol agrees that the summit’s themes indicate Biden is intent on restoring promotion of democracy and human rights after they were sidelined during Trump’s administration.

    “Biden is resuming US leadership in promoting democracy around the world. The summit seems to signal that Washington is serious about this matter,” said the academic, who is conducting research on human rights in Sweden.

    “Also, it’s a good sign that calls for democracy will receive more recognition in the region. It’s a positive move for Asean countries too.”

    Only three of Asean’s 10 member countries were invited – Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

    What Thai government says

    Regarding the matter, Prime Minister Prayut said he was “extremely careful” to ensure that Thailand “puts itself in the right position” to avoid possible damage or trouble for the country. He was perhaps referring to Thailand’s dilemma of maintaining balance in its ties with the US and China, the world’s superpowers and largest economies.

    Foreign Minister Don insisted the lack of a summit invitation was no cause for worry or regret.

    “Sometimes you should be happy not to be invited. We often find it’s good that we are not invited. After getting an invitation, we have to consider whether to join or not. In many cases, this is a double-edged sword,” Don said, replying to a question from an opposition MP in Parliament.

    Don, who doubles as deputy prime minister, also dismissed the summit as being “purely political, with the intent of attacking one another”. He added that many other democratic countries with elected governments were also not invited.

    Asked if Thailand would suffer any negative fallout from the snub, the foreign minister said: “No impacts at all. Don’t worry.”

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said that Thailand’s omission from the Summit for Democracy would not affect the country’s respect for democratic principles and human rights.

    “Thailand has no worry as to whether we are invited or not,” said Tanee, who also serves as director-general of the Department of Information.

    He added that the Kingdom regularly attends well-established international conferences to promote democracy, including the Bali Democracy Forum.

    By Thai PBS World’s Political Desk

    The post Thailand’s exclusion from global Democracy Summit ‘a warning sign’ to Prayut’s govt first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    28 November 2021
    Highlight
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279917
  • SRT promises public hearing over fate of Bangkok’s iconic Hua Lamphong railway station

    The State Railway of Thailand (SRT), the national rail service operator, has given an assurance that it will not dismantle the decades-old Hua Lamphong rail terminal and will hold a...

    The post SRT promises public hearing over fate of Bangkok’s iconic Hua Lamphong railway station first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    The State Railway of Thailand (SRT), the national rail service operator, has given an assurance that it will not dismantle the decades-old Hua Lamphong rail terminal and will hold a public hearing, so all stakeholders can air their views on its future.

    The SRT’s public relations director, Aekkarat Sri-arayanphong, said today that Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has ordered the SRT to hold the public hearing.

    The SET plans to end all remaining services in and out of the old station in the middle of next month, following the opening of the new Bang Sue grand station, which is to be the main rail hub.

    According to the Transport Ministry, ending all rail services at Hua Lamphong will ease traffic congestion in Bangkok, currently caused by the closure of roads at all rail crossings every time a train passes.

    Many suburban commuters, who regularly travel via Hua Lamphong to work, have complained that the ending of the services will cost them more, because they will need to connect with bus, BTS or MRT rail services from the new hub to get into the city. Currently, most are paying only 12 baht for return tickets per day.

    Conservationists are also concerned that the old station building, which they regard as a historic piece of architecture, will be demolished and would like it to be turned into a museum.

    Aekkarat explained that the government has planned for a long time to migrate services to Bang Sue station, adding that the hub is already linked with BTS and MRT electric train services, the airport link and, in the future, the high-speed Thai-China train service.

    To address the concerns of suburban commuters, he said the Transport Ministry is considering feeder services to the inner city from Bang Sue by asking the BTS, MRT and Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, operator of bus services, to issue discount tickets for commuters.

    For the commercial development of its prime land in Bangkok, including Hua Lamphong, he said the SRT has set up a real estate company, called SRT Assets, to handle real estate management.

    The post SRT promises public hearing over fate of Bangkok’s iconic Hua Lamphong railway station first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    27 November 2021
    General
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279913
  • Thailand bans arrivals from 8 African countries as a precaution against new COVID-19 variant Omicron

    The Thai government has imposed a total ban on arrivals from eight African countries, effective today (Saturday), and those who already have permission to enter the country will be subject...

    The post Thailand bans arrivals from 8 African countries as a precaution against new COVID-19 variant Omicron first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    The Thai government has imposed a total ban on arrivals from eight African countries, effective today (Saturday), and those who already have permission to enter the country will be subject to quarantine for 14 days from tomorrow.

    The countries are Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

    Additionally, nationals from these countries, where the new coronavirus variant known as Omicron has been found or who are at risk of spreading it, will not be allowed to apply to enter Thailand, effective today. Those already granted permission to enter Thailand must arrive before December 15th and will be subject to state quarantine for 14 days and three COVID-19 tests.

    Entry via the “Test and Go” or “sandbox” programs is not permitted.

    The immediate action by the Public Health Ministry follows a statement by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha via Facebook this morning, saying that he is ready to order the immediate restriction of travel to and from any country where the new coronavirus variant is spreading.

    The prime minister also said he has instructed the three armed forces and the police to keep an even closer watch on the country’s borders, to stop the smuggling of illegal immigrants and to support the screening of foreign migrant workers under an orderly employment program.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the new coronavirus variant to be “of concern” and named it Omicron. The WHO says it has a large number of mutations and early evidence suggesting an increased reinfection risk.

    The variant was first reported to the WHO by South Africa on November 24th and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

    A number of other countries have now decided to ban or restrict travel to and from southern Africa.

    Thailand’s Disease Control Department Director-General, Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, disclosed that screenings of 1,007 arrivals from 12 African countries, under the “sandbox” program, have all been clear of COVID-19.

    Medical Sciences Department Director-General, Dr. Supakit Sirilak, explained that Omicron is not related to the Delta or Beta variants, but is a new 32 point variant.

    He said that, at this stage however, there is still limited data about its transmissibility, adding that Thai researchers have examined over 7,000 genetic samples and have not yet found the new variant.

    The post Thailand bans arrivals from 8 African countries as a precaution against new COVID-19 variant Omicron first appeared on Thai PBS World : The latest Thai news in English, News Headlines, World News and News Broadcasts in both Thai and English. We bring Thailand to the world.

    27 November 2021
    Coronavirus Outbreak Update
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=279911