Here is a look at the top NATIONAL stories, chosen by our Pattaya News/TPN National team, from last week, July 19th to the 25th, with some commentary. They are not in any particular level of importance but are listed in the order of date of publication.
1. Thai Cabinet approves 2,000 baht reduction of tuition fees for all students nationwide
As most schools and universities nationwide have to conduct online studies due to the government’s preventive measures to control the Covid-19 outbreak, the Thai cabinet, therefore, has initially reduced tuition fees for all students in both public and private schools by 2,000 baht per person in the first semester. The reduction for the second semester will be further discussed. Additionally, a cost cutback for teachers is also introduced, estimated to be 2.3 billion baht in total.
2. Thai government orders “fake news” bans in Royal Gazette, Digital Economy and Society Ministry to establish a special working group to combat fake news
The announcement prohibits any false or misleading information publicized in the news or on social media platforms after what the government claimed was “fake news” about the Covid-19 situation in Thailand and had been widely shared on the internet from what the government called unreliable sources. The NTBC, under the authorization of the Thai government, now holds the right to shut down IP addresses and/or media that reportedly violated the order, if found guilty, before filing criminal charges to Royal Thai Police. This has undoubtedly prompted pushback from several media organizations as the order could be misused to prosecute the news media in Thailand.
3. Phuket Governor enacts new order, basically banning domestic tourism and travel with a few essential exceptions
Phuket authorities have now prohibited domestic tourists from all travel routes to enter the island following a record-breaking 50 new and confirmed local cases of Covid-19 and one new death from the Phuket Sandbox last week. Foreign tourists from international flights are still welcomed to visit the island under the preventive health measures as new infections found are mostly reported from domestic visitors, not from international tourists who are taking part in the Sandbox. The order will continue until further notice.
4. Thailand’s Covid19 Center extends maximum control measures in 29 provinces nationwide until the end of August, other additional measures announced
The extension of partial lockdown measures in the now 29 dark-red zone provinces for initially 14 days will continue to be implemented, starting this Tuesday. It is also possible that the order could be extended until the end of the month, according to the actual order. All restaurants in department stores and shopping malls are now available for online delivery services but customers cannot buy food for takeaways or pick it up themselves. All shops other than supermarkets remain closed. Other than the restaurants, all of the public places and businesses previously listed in the order, like bars, gyms, massage shops, etc. remain closed until further notice.
5. “Car Mob” demonstrations organized nationwide in Thailand on Sunday, calling for Thai Prime Minister resignation following continuing Covid-19 crisis
Regardless of the significantly increasing number of Covid-19 infections in Thailand, several pro-democracy activists had managed to conduct “car mob” demonstrations, organized by prominent leaders of pro-democracy and anti-establishment groups nationwide. They were also staged in several other provinces throughout the day. Sunday’s protest was a public outcry against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha and what protesters said was his government’s failure to manage the Covid-19 situation and the vaccine procurement. The protest was peaceful but slightly escalated after the end of the demonstration, in which some protesters remained near the site and confronted riot police. The confrontation lasted from 5:00 PM. and ended shortly before a mandatory curfew in Bangkok at 9:00 PM.