Covert truck bribery stickers 'do exist'

Another sticker which indicates a bribe is found on the windscreen of an overloaded trucks. (Photo: Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn Facebook)
Another sticker which indicates a bribe is found on the windscreen of an overloaded trucks. (Photo: Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn Facebook)

Covert stickers showing that trucks operating illegally on Thailand’s roads have paid bribes to police and other officials to avoid arrest do in fact exist, according to national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas.

After the controversy was brought to light by Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a Move Forward Party list MP-elect, Pol Maj Gen Ekkaraj Limsangkat, commander of the Highway Police Division, was transferred to an inactive post at the Operations Centre of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) on Tuesday.

The order was signed by CIB chief Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej. Pol Maj Gen Ekkaraj was replaced by Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, commander of the Anti-Corruption Division (ACD).

Pol Gen Damrongsak on  Wednesday responded to the matter by saying the Office of the Inspector-General of the Royal Thai Police will work with the CIB to expedite the investigation.

“I admit that these ‘bribe-paid’ stickers have been around for a long time. Every agency is speeding up its investigation to find how many are out there. The investigation should be finished within 15 days,” said Pol Gen Damrongsak.

The commander of the Highway Police Division was transferred to ensure the investigation is carried out transparently, Pol Gen Damrongsak said. The probe will be expanded to track down the recipients of the bribes, some of whom may be state officials, he said.

Pol Gen Damrongsak said any state officials or police who are found to be involved in the scheme will face criminal cases and disciplinary punishment.

More than 79 officers have been dismissed for committing such offences this year, he added.

“Since the matter has recently grabbed headlines, an order will be given for a deeper probe,” he said.

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Phuket curbs visa overstays

Tourists relax on a beach on Ko Racha Yai isalnd, Phuket in January. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)
Tourists relax on a beach on Ko Racha Yai isalnd, Phuket in January. (Photo: Achadthaya Chuenniran)

Phuket’s acclaimed crime-free project has proved successful, with over 1,000 foreigners caught overstaying their visas.

With the cooperation of 800 accommodation providers on the resort island, the Phuket Immigration Office has endorsed crime-free measures which allow businesses to inform police of any suspicious activities involving foreign guests.

Pol Col Thanet Sukchai, the Phuket immigration chief, on Wednesday said the number of foreign guests registered at accommodation in Phuket over the last two months was over 20% higher than the number of foreign tourists who had arrived in Phuket during that period.

Pol Col Thanet said the new database helped police track down one missing foreigner recently.

He said that during May 1-25, Immigration Police raided 1,550 target locations in Phuket and arrested 11 foreigners who had overstayed their visas and another four people who had entered Thailand illegally.

According to the Immigration Bureau’s Information Technology Centre, 1,050 foreigners had overstayed their visas.

Of those, 391 were not staying at their reported accommodation and 228 had since left Thailand.

Some 331 tourists had requested to extend their visas, 109 reportedly died, one was a bedridden patient and the other had received Thai citizenship, the centre said.

Only nine overstayers were facing legal action, said Pol Col Thanet.

He said anyone with information about tourists overstaying their visas or breaching the law in other ways could submit it to the Phuket Immigration Office or the Traffy Fondue application.

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Dept on high alert for monkeypox

Jakkarat: Urges safe sex practices
Jakkarat: Urges safe sex practices

The Department of Disease Control is on alert for more monkeypox cases, especially among the LGBTQ community, saying the best way to prevent the disease is by reducing all close skin contact and not switching partners frequently.

Jakkarat Pittayawong-anont, director of the Department of Disease Control’s epidemiology division, said the number of patients infected with the virus seems to be stable, with only a few cases per month reported.

However he suspects there are many more unreported infections.

“Since the first case was discovered, we now have around 40 cases nationwide. Interestingly, we have seen more patients among the [homosexual] and LGBTQ group. So we would like to ask for more careful behaviour in terms of their sexual relations to help prevent the disease from spreading further,” he said.

Thailand in July of last year recorded its first case of monkeypox, diagnosed in a 27-year-old Nigerian man who travelled from his home country to Phuket.

He was admitted to hospital with a fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. He also had rashes and lesions originating in his genital area, which had spread to other parts of his body.

The Ministry of Public Health later put out a warning about the disease and sought cooperation from hospitals and sex clinics, asking them to report any suspected cases to the ministry.

It also asked that all people arriving in the country be warned about the disease and to inform authorities if they had any of the symptoms.

Dr Jakkarat said close skin-to-skin contact is a prime cause of monkeypox infections so the best way to prevent the disease is by minimising this. Monkeypox is not an STD so wearing a condom will not prevent infection, he added.

Regarding vaccinations, he said jabs are not necessary at present because the rate of infection is so slow. Moreover, it is not a deadly virus and all of the symptoms can be treated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said recently that monkeypox is no longer a global public health emergency, but all countries should remain vigilant.

WHO reported over 87,000 cases and 140 deaths found in 111 countries last year.

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Sri Lanka PM hails ties on Vesak Day

Lauds BCG on eve of Buddhism summit

Warm welcome: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha accompanies his Sri Lankan counterpart, Dinesh Gunawardena, at Government House. The Sri Lankan premier is on an official visit to Thailand and will attend the 18th United International Vesek Day summit which runs from Thursday till Friday. (Government House photo)
Warm welcome: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha accompanies his Sri Lankan counterpart, Dinesh Gunawardena, at Government House. The Sri Lankan premier is on an official visit to Thailand and will attend the 18th United International Vesek Day summit which runs from Thursday till Friday. (Government House photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardena on his official visit to the kingdom and congratulated the country for its speedy economic recovery, said government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

Mr Gunawardena met Gen Prayut at the Thai Khu Fah Building at Government House and will attend the 18th United International Vesak Day summit today. Vesak, or Visakha Bucha Day, falls on Saturday.

More than 3,500 monks from 50 countries will participate in the event being jointly organised by Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU), the Supreme Sangha Council, and the government.

Mr Anucha said regular collaboration between Thailand and Sri Lanka on Vesak Day reflects the close relations between the two countries that have been connected by Buddhism for over 700 years.

Gen Prayut also congratulated Sri Lanka on its economic recovery and expressed Thailand’s willingness to provide further assistance should there be a request from Sri Lanka.

He also thanked his guest for approving the return of “Plai Saksurin”, a male elephant bestowed to the government of Sri Lanka by its Thai counterpart some 21 years ago, for treatment.

Mr Gunawardena said he hoped the two countries would cooperate in developing their human resources and promote exchanges and visits at all levels.

The Sri Lankan leader also relayed his appreciation for Thailand’s help and commended its economic potential.

Sri Lanka would also like to enhance cooperation and learn more about good practices in food security, he said.

He also said Thailand is being adopted as a model case study for Sri Lanka, especially in areas related to the bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model.

Mr Anucha said both prime ministers were pleased with the progress being made on the Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA talks, with a final deadline of early 2024 targeted.

Mr Gunawardena also urged the private sector to invest in its Port City of Colombo and other projects.

Mr Anucha said Gen Prayut was confident Thailand’s expertise in tourism and the service sector and retail would be greatly beneficial to that.

Gen Prayut confirmed Thailand’s commitment to cooperating with Sri Lanka as a development partner.

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Commentary: Homes become battlegrounds in fight against teen drug use in Singapore

A study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in 2011 found that regular teen users of popular social media outlets were twice as likely to use marijuana (13 per cent versus 7 per cent) than those who did not spend time on social media. 


Drug abuse doesn’t discriminate. Though research establishes that low socioeconomic status (SES) is a risk factor for drug abuse, my clinical experience working individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds has taught me to be more discerning. 

We usually think that people who are from a lower SES struggle with having their basic human needs (such as food, shelter, employment, accommodation) met, and thus abuse drugs to escape the associated unpleasant feelings. This may lead to the above assumption.

However, I have worked with high SES individuals and they have a different set of struggles. They experience a different form of lack, in terms of validation and emotional support experienced in the home environment. 

In fact, there is an argument to be made that someone with a high SES has more accessibility to drugs (with their resources and networks) and can possibly evade being found out. Understanding the motivations behind abusing drugs is key, as compared to being led by presumptions. 

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, parents play a crucial role as guardians, responsible for providing a safe environment where the physical and emotional needs of their children are met.

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Luxury property rents soar amid demand from high net worth individuals

Ms Song also pointed to ultra-high net worth individuals and families setting up offices or businesses in Singapore, saying that they have the ability and willingness to pay top rents for GCBs or prime bungalows in these locations.

“While some foreigners might already own a non-landed private property, they are unable to purchase a landed property as they are not Singapore citizens or PRs (permanent residents). As such, they might be willing to pay a premium to rent a spacious residence to accommodate their lifestyles,” said Ms Song.

She also pointed out that landed homes are mainly owner-occupied, so landlords have been able to command higher rents due to the limited supply of homes put up for rent.

There is also scarce new supply. For new non-landed private residential units, 51,703 homes are expected to be ready by 2027; in contrast, only 887 new landed houses will be built over the same period. 

“While rents for condos are likely to stabilise … rents for landed may have room to go up further,” Ms Song said.

With the recent increase of additional buyer’s stamp duty for foreigners to 60 per cent, more foreigners might have to rent instead of buy, which could spill over to landed properties.

“Nonetheless, landed rents are expected to stabilise later this year on a weaker economic outlook and growing resistance to high rents,” she added.

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Yellow Line to open June 3 with one-month trial run

A one-month trial run of the new Yellow Line monorail will begin on June 3, with free rides for commuters during the period, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) said yesterday.

According to MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas, the decision was reached at a meeting of the Department of Rail Transport and Eastern Bangkok Monorail (EBM), which holds the concession for the line.

Staff working along the Yellow Line will be briefed today, ahead of tomorrow’s press launch, Mr Pakapong said.

Starting on Saturday, commuters can ride for free along the Yellow Line between 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm. If the launch goes as planned, the trial hours will be extended until midnight.

Mr Pakapong said EBM must follow the advice from a certified, independent engineer to ensure the system meets international standards before the line can begin full operations.

The new monorail links Lat Phrao in Bangkok’s north with Samrong in the city’s east. There are 23 stations along the 30.4-kilometre line.

Fares will range from 14-42 baht, as agreed in 2016.

The fares, however, will be adjusted, based on the consumer price index for the previous three months, before full service begins.

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Chinese held over B10bn cyber fraud

A Chinese couple living in a 67-million-baht house in Bangkok were arrested yesterday for alleged multinational fraud, with damages estimated at 10 billion baht, the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) said.

Shaoxian Su, 31, and his girlfriend Keyi Ye, 25, were taken into custody at their house in the Palazzo Srinakarin housing estate in Prawet district on charges of public fraud and money laundering.

Police from the CCIB impounded 1.5 million baht in cash, the title deeds for the house, ownership documents for four condo apartments in the Sukhumvit area worth a total of 128 million baht, and 14 Bearbrick dolls also found on the premises.

A CCIB spokesman quoted victims as accusing the couple of using fake online profiles to approach them via social media and enticing them into “invest in digital currencies and assets”.

Victims in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan told police they lost about 35 million baht. About 20,000 similar complaints were filed overseas, including the United States and the UK, which are believed to be linked to the suspects’ network. Total damages are estimated at 10 billion baht.

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Factory owes workers B20m

Labour authorities have ordered an operator of a textile factory in Samut Prakan to speed up paying about 109 workers 19.33 million baht in total, plus 15% interest, in wages the employer had failed to pay them from July 2020 until this April.

The workers are among 115 employees in total who lodged complaints with labour inspectors claiming they were paid only partially by their employer, who refused to lay them off and pay their full severance, Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said yesterday.

Among them were two people who were due to retire and entitled to receive 354,433.33 baht in compensation, he said.

He was responding after the employees rallied outside Samut Prakan’s City Hall and petitioned the provincial governor to accelerate the payment of their unpaid wages.

After the employer’s business was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the firm began cutting staff working days and paying them only partially, said Mr Suchart, citing an investigation by local labour authorities.

Most recently, the textile factory, in Phra Samut Chedi district, was on April 18 forced to cease operations when the electricity supply was cut off because the company failed to pay its bills.

“As a result, these people can no longer work there, but the employer keeps paying them only part of what they are owed,” he said.

“Six more workers filed petitions for help with the labour authorities on May 25 and they are still being processed.”

In case the employer fails to pay the workers the demanded amount by the due date, staff will be able to apply for preliminary financial assistance from the ministry’s employee support fund.

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Pita case could force new poll

Wissanu awaits details of iTV shares

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, right, meets Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Sanan Angubolkul, left, and representatives of businesspeople and chambers of commerce from 40 countries at the TCC office on Wednesday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, right, meets Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Sanan Angubolkul, left, and representatives of businesspeople and chambers of commerce from 40 countries at the TCC office on Wednesday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Details of shareholding violation complaints against Move Forward Party (MFP) leader Pita Limjaroenrat will decide his fate and determine if the May 14 general election is nullified, according to caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

He was responding to questions about the possible scenarios if the Constitutional Court rules against Mr Pita, who holds 42,000 shares in iTV, an independent broadcaster founded in the 1990s.

A candidate is constitutionally barred from contesting an election if he or she owns stakes in a media company. The Election Commission (EC) has started a probe into the shareholding complaints against Mr Pita, who is the party’s list-MP and prime ministerial candidate.

The complaints are calling into question Mr Pita’s status as an MP and as the future prime minister, with speculation growing that it might affect the fate of all MFP candidates.

Mr Wissanu said: ”The details of the complaints are a key factor in determining how things will play out.”

If the petitions target only his status as an MP, Mr Pita could assume the prime ministerial post despite being disqualified because the prime minister is not legally required to be an MP, he said.

If the complaints involve Mr Pita’s prime ministerial qualifications, he could still be an MP, Mr Wissanu said, adding that if the complaints touch on both issues, the court would rule on them, which could affect Mr Pita’s endorsement of election candidates in the May 14 polls.

It depends on the complaints and whether they cover these three issues, he said.

When asked what happens if the petitions target Mr Pita’s approval of the MFP candidates, he said that in such a scenario, there could be a new nationwide general election.

Mr Wissanu said he is not aware of the details of the petitions against Mr Pita, adding he is not suggesting how a complaint should be written.

He urged people not to assume anything. “You should not have such a far-fetched imagination. Consider it step by step. The EC has not taken any action. Do not jump towards any negative scenarios just yet,” he said.

The details of the complaints are a key factor in determining how things will play out – Wissanu Kreu-ngam, deputy prime minister.

Political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, who filed the petitions, said his petitions cover all the points, including implications of the issue of Mr Pita’s party leadership and his certification of the MFP candidates.

Meanwhile, when asked about Mr Wissanu’s comments, Mr Pita on Wednesday said he is not worried about the petitions and the party is prepared to deal with the situation. The MFP leader said there is time for him to clarify the allegations and he has not seen the details of the complaints.

He insisted that setting up transition teams is a normal practice in other democratic countries, responding to criticism that it was intended to pressure the Senate to vote for him as prime minister.

He said the transition team and the seven working panels are not a shadow cabinet and they are there to address issues set forth in the memorandum of understanding.

Senator Seree Suwanpanont said on Wednesday he believed the formation of the working panels is the MFP’s attempt to intensify public support for the MFP-led alliance and pressure the EC and the Senate. “I think they should have waited until the government is formed,” he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday no state agencies had contacted the MFP to schedule meetings with the transition team of the MFP-led coalition.

“I’ve asked state officials and my staff and found none of them did so. Don’t believe it all,” Gen Prayut said when asked about Mr Pita’s remark that state officials had asked for meetings.

On Tuesday, Gen Prayut criticised the MFP’s transitional plans as inappropriate because it was not the government yet.

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