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122,000 Cambodians flee from Thailand

Posted by pakin On June - 16 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Unregistered workers feared crackdown by military, officials say

MORE THAN 120,000 Cambodians have fled Thailand to return home in the past week, fearing a crackdown on migrant workers after last month’s military takeover, an official said yesterday.

The mass exodus of labourers – who play a key role in Thai industries such as seafood and agriculture but often lack official work permits – comes amid a junta warning of arrest and deportation for illegal foreign workers.

“They’re returning en masse like a dam collapsing. They’ve never come en masse like this before in our history,” Kor Sam Saroeut, governor of the northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey where the main border crossing is, told AFP.

Around 122,000 Cambodians have returned from Thailand in the last week after being transported to the border by Thai military trucks or making their own way, he said late yesterday.

“They said they are scared of being arrested or shot if they run when Thai authorities check their houses,” Saroeut added. “Most of them went to work in Thailand without a work permit.”

Sirichan Ngathong, a spokeswoman for the Thai Army which seized power in a coup on May 22, had said last Wednesday the junta viewed illegal migrants as a “threat” and they faced arrest and deportation.

But two days later the Thai foreign ministry dismissed “rumours” the army was deporting Cambodian labourers and later yesterday released a new statement citing spokesman Sek Wannamethee as saying: “No crackdown order targeting Cambodian workers had been issued by the NCPO (junta body).”

As a result of the rumours, “Cambodian illegal workers have reported themselves to the Thai authorities for being repatriated voluntarily to Cambodia” the statement said, adding that Thai immigration officials had provided transport for them.

Stranded at border

More than 12,000 migrant workers crossed the border to Cambodia yesterday alone, according to Saroeut, who expects many more to make the journey over the new few days.

Thousands were sheltering from the rain at local Buddhist temples and a market as they waited for transport to their home provinces.

Cambodian authorities have arranged nearly 300 cars and military trucks to ferry workers home from the Aranyaprathet-Poipet border checkpoint but many would have to stay near the site overnight until transport became available, Saroeut said.

At the smaller border checkpoint of Boeung Trakuon, south of Poipet, around 1,000 Cambodian men and women walked across the border with heavy bags and children in tow, said a local journalist.

Chea Thea, a 33-year-old construction worker, said she returned to Cambodia two days ago in a convoy of 20 cars organised by Thai authorities – deciding to leave after seeing her compatriots were departing in large numbers. “Cambodian migrants are coming back. We feel scared,” she told AFP from her parents’ home in the northwestern province of Battambang.

“When the situation is better I may go back,” Thea said.

Soum Chankea, a coordinator for Cambodian rights group Adhoc who has met many workers at the border, said the number of returnees was growing each day.

“They keep coming, more and more. Thousands more have arrived in Poipet (border checkpoint) this morning,” he told AFP by telephone.

Six Cambodian workers and a Thai driver transporting them to the border province of Sa Kaeo died in an accident early Sunday, said Thai police official Sommart Meungmuti. The accident, which left another 12 people injured, is suspected to have been caused by a bursting tyre, he added.

RS may offer full refund for World Cup box

Posted by pakin On June - 13 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

RS Plc said it was willing to compensate buyers of its World Cup set-top box, possibly by refunding it in full.

RS had sold around 300,000  of the 1,590-baht device when it was asked by authorities to broadcast all 64 matches on free TV, rendering it pointless for people to buy the box.

The refund will cost RS 477 million baht compared to the 427 million baht the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) agreed to pay it in exchange of the no-holds-barred broadcasting, according to the company.

RS chief executive Surachai Chetchotisak said although the compensation would not cover the refund, RS is unlikely to face a loss.

With an extended reach to all TV audiences, RS will likely find more sponsors and ads for the games.

Its original plan was to air 22 matches on free TV. People seeking to watch all 64 games had to buy its box.

The junta this week asked the NBTC to find a way to have RS broadcast all games on free TV.

The regulator agreed to use money from a fund, whose money comes from digital-TV and 3G auctions as well as fines, to compensate RS.

Bt427m for free TV telecast

Posted by pakin On June - 13 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

NBTC makes sure everyone can watch World Cup

After keeping their fingers crossed for days, Thai football fans finally received the good news yesterday, as the broadcast-regulating agency resolved to make possible live free-to-view telecast of all 64 Fifa World Cup matches through a Bt427-million subsidy.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) yesterday voted 6-1 to approve the subsidy to be paid to the broadcast-rights licensee RS International Broadcasting and Sport Management to compensate for their business-opportunity loss.

NBTC secretary-general Thakorn Tantasit said six out of 11 NBTC board members voted to subsidise the live telecast of all the World Cup matches this year.

Another NBTC member abstained and three others were absent.

Thakorn yesterday said the NBTC would set up a special subcommittee to manage the subsidy and to negotiate with RS. The subcommittee consists of representatives from the Finance Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, the Budget Bureau, RS and the NBTC.

He confirmed that financial support for the deal would be partly allocated from revenue collected from fees for telecommunications and broadcasting services. Further revenue was transferred from the National Telecommun-ication Commission’s fund. The National Telecommunications Commission was the previous watchdog, replaced by the NBTC.

The deal would not draw from key NBTC funds such as the Bt15 billion raised from a recent bidding for digital TV licences and the Universal Service Obligation Fund for Telecommunication services.

The NBTC’s decision came after committee members at the Broadcasting and Telecommuni-cations Research and Develop-ment Fund for the Public Interest (BTFP) gave the green light to use its budget for the subsidy.

It will be used as a remedy scheme to offset losses made by RS, which will now be unable to sell its content-bundled set-top boxes and subscriptions, and collect its sub-licence fees from TrueVisions.

Supinya Klangnarong, an NBTC commissioner and chairperson of a subcommittee on consumer protection, mentioned via her Twitter feed that she had voted against the decision to provide the subsidy before walking out of the meeting room.

On Wednesday, RS had asked the NBTC for Bt766.5 million compensation for it to agree to the watchdog’s request to televise all World Cup matches on free TV.

The NBTC was tasked by the ruling junta to find a way to come to an agreement to benefit the general public after the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favour of RS. The court’s verdict meant that the NBTC’s “must-have” rule that makes it mandatory for selected big events such as the World Cup to be available on free television networks would not be apply for this year’s tournament.

Thakorn explained that arrangement between the NBTC and the BTFP was made under Section 52 of the Act on Organisation to Assign Radio Frequency and to Regulate the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Services B.E. 2553 (2010). The main objectives of the BTFP were to support and protect the rights of the disabled and the less privileged to access a fair broadcasting service.

In keeping with this principle and the motto of the National Council for Peace and Order of “bringing happiness back to Thai people”, the Royal Thai Army Radio and Television Station (TV5), Channel 7 and RS Channel 8 announced a collaboration to telecast all 64 matches live from Brazil. The tournament started yesterday and ends on July 13.

Lt-General Chart-udom Tithasiri, president of the Royal Thai Army Radio and Television Station or TV5, said that his station would telecast 38 live matches via its analog terrestrial TV channel in standard definition (SD) and its digital terrestrial TV channel in high definition (HD).

Meanwhile, RS Channel 8 will broadcast 56 live matches while Channel 7 will carry 29 live matches.

RS is able to seek advertising revenue from airtime slots that have been leased to TV5 and Channel 7. Previously, RS wanted to broadcast only 22 live matches of the World Cup final via free TV channels while the remaining live matches would be available via its pay-TV service.

RS chief operating officer Pornpan Techarungchaikul said that her company would refund customers who have already purchased RS set-top boxes to watch the World Cup. Details of the refund scheme will be disclosed soon.

Saree Ongsomwang, secretary-general of the Foundation for Consumers, said it was only fair that customers who paid to watch the tournament on television should receive full refunds.

Four primary-school students were killed and at least 10 others wounded in Nong Bua Lamphu’s Muang district after a former school director slammed into them with his car while suffering an epileptic seizure behind the wheel.

Police said the accident happened at 9.20am as students from different schools were walking into the Nong Bua Lampu Pitthaya School to participate in an event for World Science Day, which wraps up tomorrow.

Wang Nam Khao Rachupratham School’s former director Bualum Ngobudrada was driving his Mitsubishi Pajero out of the school just as the students were walking towards the school compound, when he suffered a seizure and lost control of his car.

The car rammed into the students, killing four instantly, while at least 10 others were severely injured and taken to Nong Bua Lamphu Hospital. The deceased, all Prathom 4 students, were identified as Kraisorn Chanta-usa, Wilawan Upra, Sujitra At-wichai and Kwancheewa Yingyong.

The car also crashed into three other parked vehicles at the scene.

Initial police investigation showed that Bualum, who is currently under police detention, needs to take medicine continuously for epileptic seizures, and had reportedly been involved in several car accidents before. Normally he is driven to school, but on that fateful day, he chose to drive on his own.