Thai News

2019

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Dangerous Thailand...

41% of fresh vegetables sold in Thai markets are contaminated with harmful levels of pesticide


Link Here 27th June 2019
From my experience, farmers certainly know the score, and it is standard practise to soak all vegetables in a mild detergent solution. The most worried about vegetables are cucumbers, runner beans and watermelons. Thai farmers are also very keen on organic farming, not because of concerns about consumers, but because they passionately believe that pesticides kill them and their families.

Pesticide watchdog Thai-PAN has just published its most recent survey, which reveals that 41% of all vegetables in Thailand's fresh markets are contaminated with chemical pesticides to a level that exceeds internationally acceptable standards. 12 types of banned chemicals were also discovered.

Prokchol Ousap, coordinator of Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN), reported that the organization recently analysed 286 samples of vegetables. She said that the sample sources ranged from fresh markets and shop houses to produce shelves in city department stores. The samples included 15 types of vegetables and nine types of fruit commonly consumed by the public. They were sent for analysis by ISO-17025 certified laboratories in the United Kingdom.

The result is shocking as they found that 41% of the samples were contaminated with chemical pesticides, said Prokchol.

The worst contamination was found in bok choy, kale, Thai basil, chili, cauliflower, oranges, rose apples, guava and grapes. The lab also found contamination of 33% of imported fruit was over the standard, while 48.7% of locally grown produce exceeded acceptable contamination standards.

She went on to say that fresh fruit and vegetables on the shelves of large department stores were more contaminated than those sold in local fresh markets, adding that products that are labeled as meeting GAP and GMP standards are safer as only 26% were found to be contaminated.

 

 

Killer cards...

Beware of supposed health giving cards that are in fact radioactive


Link Here 18th June 2019
Thailand's Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) has warned of excessively high levels of radiation from the so-called energy cards that their distributors claim can cure illnesses and help relieve aches and pains.

Tests on sample cards conducted by the state agency found radiation measuring at 40 microsieverts per hour, which is 350 times higher than the maximum exposure humans should get to radiation a year.

The agency also warned against drinking water in which an energy card has been dipped, as doing so raises the risk of cancer. It said OAP would take legal action against the distributors once it has gathered enough evidence from its tests on the cards.

The OAP warning came in the wake of media reports saying that many villagers in the Northeast had been tricked into buying these so-called energy cards from distributors, who made money from both selling the cards and recruiting new distributors as part of what appears to be a pyramid scheme.

The cards are being sold at Bt1,100 to Bt1,500 each.

The OAP also said that anyone who wants to discard these cards can contact the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology for assistance.

 

 

Offsite Article: Bangkok red light district to be reborn as the Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water...


Link Here 6th June 2019
Thailand's new unelected military prime minister gets to work on cleaning up Bangkok

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 

A healthier outlook for expats...

A Hua Hin immigration office confirms that health insurance will only be mandatory for O-A visas


Link Here 24th May 2019
Thaivisa has spoken with Immigration at Prachuap Khiri Khan in a bid to try and clear up some confusion surrounding the recent announcement regarding mandatory health insurance for Non-Immigrant Visa O-A.

The office told Thaivisa that the new requirements only affect people seeking Non-Immigrant Visa O-A, as obtained from people's home country.

The requirement for mandatory health insurance does not affect those people who stay in Thailand on a Non O extension of stay based on retirement.

The requirement also does not apply to those staying in Thailand on a marriage extension or an extension of stay based on being a parent to a Thai child.

 

 

'But you need to be able to afford it'...

US Embassy issues an advisory to expats to get health insurance


Link Here 20th May 2019
The US Embassy has added to concerns that the Thai authorities are gearing up to requiring expats to get health insurance.

The US Embassy has just issued an advisory:

Thailand remains one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world. Great culture; great food; great people. And as US citizens age, Thailand also offers access to excellent health care, provided at world-class private hospitals by internationally trained doctors. But you need to be able to afford it.

Sadly, we at the Embassy in Bangkok have seen many instances where US citizens discover, too late, that essential, high-quality health care is out of financial reach and their options are limited. As you contemplate your own preparedness, we urge you to plan for a few key expenses: medical treatment, nursing care, and, if necessary, medical evacuation.

 

 

Maybe no longer enough English speaking expats in Thailand...

The Nation newspaper set to cease producing a print edition


Link Here 17th May 2019
The Nation newspaper will stop its print editions and go fully online from July 1, when the independent English-language daily turns 48.

Somchai Meesen, chief executive officer of Nation Multimedia Group Plc (NMG), said the decision by the management was aimed at halting The Nation's financial losses, in addition to expanding its market.

Over the past five years, The Nation has lost Bt30 million a year on average, he said.

The CEO, citing a survey, pointed out that only 36% of The Nation's readers are based in Thailand while the remaining 64% live overseas, including 25% in the United States. He said that meant most of the newspaper's readers did not buy its paper editions, and they read its reports and articles from the website and through different digital platforms.

 

 

Home truths...

Thailand passes new rule requiring long stay expats to get significant health insurance


Link Here 14th May 2019

Health insurance has been made mandatory for foreigners aged 50 years and above seeking long-term stay in Thailand.

An acceptabe insurance policy must offer up to Bt40,000 coverage for outpatient treatment and up to Bt400,000 for inpatient treatment.

The Cabinet has already approved the new rule, Health Service Support Department director-general Nattawuth Prasert-siripong revealed yesterday. According to Nattawuth, the new rule applies to both new applicants for the non-immigrant visa (O-A), which offers a stay of up to one year, and those wishing to renew their visa. Each renewal is valid for one year. He added:

Foreigners can buy valid health insurance from longstay.tgia.org or if they wish to use health insurance that they bought overseas, they must ensure that the coverage amount is no less than what is required by the rule. We are going to discuss with relevant authorities on to how to check the validity of health insurance bought from overseas

Asked about foreigners who cannot buy health insurance because their health risks are considered too high, Nattawuth said relevant authorities might consider requiring them to have higher deposits in bank accounts so as to make sure that they have enough to live in Thailand.

Forum comments suggest that a rough ballpark figure for this level of cover costs about 50,000 Baht a year for 50 year olds, 100,000 Baht a year for 60 year olds, and is not even available for 70 year olds.

 

 

Offsite Article: The importance of second place...


Link Here 21st April 2019
A detailed explanation of how Thailand's military government arranged to stay in power

See article from theconversation.com

 

 

Dangerous Thailand...

Thai police continue mass raids on foreigners to check their papers


Link Here 21st March 2019

The deputy commander of immigration told the press of the latest arrests in a long running crackdown on over-stayers and people breaking the law by not continually reporting their whereabouts.

Maj-Gen Itthiphon Itthisanranachai was speaking on behalf of immigration and a large number of other police departments outside The Street on Rachadapisek in Bangkok at 1am this morning.

The latest sweep checked 229 places such as hotels, schools (both language and private), restaurants and private addresses. In total 490 people were arrested many from Thailand and neighboring countries.

The Maj-Gen said he was following government orders to rid the country of romance scammers, ATM skimmers and drug dealers. The Thai Rath newspaper story didn't suggest any of the recent arrests had been linked to such issues.

Of the recent arrests 14 were for visa overstays; 338 for entering Thailand illegally; 70 cases of not reporting an alien's whereabouts within 24 hours; 20 not staying at a registered address; and 16 illegal workers.

Of the 229 places raided 68 were businesses and shops, 6 were entertainment venues, 62 hotels and other accommodation and 93 others. The arrests for unreported whereabouts suggest that the police were targeting short time hotels.

 

 

Exciting policies...

Thai political party proposes the legalisation of sex toys


Link Here 20th March 2019

A little-known political party competing in next week's Thai general election revealed one of its priority proposals for Thailand was to legalise the production and sale of sex toys.

The Tai Rak Tham party also proposed 24 hour opening for entertainment venues.

Deputy leader Chitsanupong Trairatrangsri said the party wished to emphasise the policy as the country has a huge amount of rubber which was the raw material for sex toys. Therefore, if the production of sex toys was allowed in Thailand, it would add value to the rubber trade, he said.

 

 

Thai Airways: a lightweight airline...

Baggage allowance to be reduced to 20kg from April


Link Here 7th March 2019
Thai Airways has announced that from April 1st its baggage allowance for economy passengers will be reduced from 30kg to 20kg.

Group tour customers will also face the same restrictions though that change in the rules will come later starting July 1st 2019.

Daily News said the airline were trying to cut fuel costs. THAI has reportedly been losing billions of baht in recent years.

 

 

Dangerous Thailand...

French tourist, arrested, jailed and deported for vaping


Link Here 28th February 2019

Cecilia Cornu was in Phuket for a family holiday in January and was caught by Karon police holding an e-cigarette on Jan 30 whilst on a scooter with her fiance as her parents and brother followed behind.

Cornu said she was stopped by four police officers who snatched the e-cigarette and demanded B40,000, which she refused to pay. She said she was then arrested and taken to Karon Police Station where officers tried to bully her into paying a bribe.

Cornu was charged, her passport confiscated and a trial date set for Feb 11. Her return flight was scheduled for the following day. She posted bail of B100,000 and was released the same day pending trial.

On Feb 11 Cornu attended Phuket Provincial Court where she was convicted for the offence and says she was fined B827 (23 euros). She was then sent to Phuket Immigration for what she thought was to collect her passport. Upon arriving at the immigration office, she was informed that she would be transferred to Bangkok for deportation.

Cornu was then taken to Bangkok where she claims she spent four days and three nights in a prison cell shared with 60 other women in dire conditions where she had to sleep on a hard, dirty floor with no sheets or mattresses before returning home to France.

Karon Police Chief Col Prasarn Hankotha responded to Cornu's claims by denying the bribe but seemed to confirm the arrest, jailing and deportation.

 

 

Lump hammer blow...

People applying for an annual visa extension with a lump sum in a Thai bank will have to keep that money in the bank for at least 5 months


Link Here 31st January 2019
Thai immigration has announced a major change regarding the financial requirements needed when applying for an extension of stay based on retirement using the 800k baht in the bank method (or the combination of income method) now need to keep 800k baht in the bank for five months, (for 2 month before and 3 months after the application). Furthermore 400k Baht must be kept in the bank thereafter.

The requirements for a retirement extension according to the new police order include:

(4) At least 2 months prior to filing date, and at least 3 months after being granted permission, the alien must have fund deposited in a bank in Thailand of no less than THB 800,000. The alien can withdraw the fund 3 months after being granted permission and the remaining balance must be no less than THB 400,00 or;

(5) Must have and annual earning and fund deposited with a commercial bank in Thailand totalling of no less than THB 800,000 until the filing date. The said fund must remain in the account prior to and after the permission is granted and the alien can make a withdrawal under the same conditions as stated in (4).

The new requirements to keep money in the bank for three months after the retirement visa is granted is effective from 1st March 2019.

The new requirements are likely the result of immigration officials trying to put an end to the practice of visa agents falsifying bank statements for foreigners who do not have enough money to meet the financial requirements needed for a retirement extension.

 

 

Worlds apart...

Germany and Israel harangue Thai pop band for not knowing the significance of a swastika on a t-shirt


Link Here 28th January 2019
Thai people have little interest in European history and most seem to know nothing about the Second World War even if the country did get involved on the margins. However the west seems to somehow expect that Thais should be aware of the horrors and sensitivities from that time... but they are simply not.

Now foreign diplomats have got all wound up by a female pop star unknowingly wearing a t-shirt decorated with a Nazi flag.

The band has issued an apology to match the tearful one delivered earlier by 20-year-old singer Pichayapa Namsai Natha. It was a bad fashion choice based on ignorance, she said.

But envoys from Israel and German have expressed dismay after a member of the popular all-girl singing group BNK48 sported a T-shirt bearing a swastika.

Smadar Shapira, deputy chief of mission of Israel in Thailand, said on Twitter that the Israeli Embassy was shocked and dismayed over the singer's outfit, noting that the Holocaust remembrance was imminent:

Presenting Nazi symbols by the band's singer hurt the feelings of millions around the world whose relatives were murdered by the Nazis.

German Ambassador Georg Schmidt, whose country has gone to great lengths to amend for the crimes of its wartime regime, also tweeted.

We share the shock and dismay expressed by @ShapiraSmadar from the Embassy of Israel. We invite members of #BNK48 to discuss the terror to the Nazi dictatorship with us.

The manager of BNK48 and singer Namsai later attened a meeting with the ambassador of Israel, Meir Shlomo, at the latter's residence to express their apologies in person. the ambassador said following the meeting:

I understand that it was an act arising from lack of knowledge and awareness, and I'm pleased that they have apologised and agreed to hold together educational activity in the future. The BNK48 has proposed that its members join an educational workshop on the Holocaust, in order to emphasise their commitment to this important subject.

 

 

A few statements short of a full set?...

Thai Immigration will show leniency for applications for an annual visa extension based on income, at least for the first year under the new rules


Link Here 23rd January 2019
Thai immigration has confirmed it will show some leniency to foreigners with regards to proving income when applying for retirement and marriage extensions.

In an order dated 22nd December, Immigration chief Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakpal, acknowledges that some applicants may have difficulty in providing the now required 12 months worth of bank statements showing income.

Where this is the case, the Pol Lt. Gen Hakpal has instructed immigration officers that from 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2019 they have discretion to accept evidence of less than 12 monthly transfers from overseas.

The applicants given leniency in this way are to be told by the officers that this is a one-off exemption and that their applications for the next renewal will not be accepted without a complete set of documents according to the order.

Previously incomes were verified by obtaining a letter from the relevant embassy but many of the estern embassies will no longer provide these letters.

 

 

Show your money!...

Thai Immigration reveals new rules for those showing income for a 1 year visa extension


Link Here 6th January 2019
Now that several foreign embassies have ended their service of providing letters supporting visa applicants income cliams, Thai Immigration has outlined replacement rules for evidencing ncome.

The income requirements remain unchanged in value (40,000 a month for those supporting Thais and 65,000 a month for retirees). Thai Immigration will now accept evidence as follows:

  1. Tax receipts of the supporting relative presumably thos issues by the Thai tax authorities.
  2. Evidence of a pension. Letter of certification from a Thai bank supported by bank statements showing a pension being transferred to the pensioner's bank account every month for at least 12 months. Exceptions are allowed for those who have been retired for less than one year.
  3. Evidence of income from a foreign embassy or consulate for those whose embassies are still providing the service

 

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