Thailand national news week in review: Songkran is on, Pornhub to stay blocked, Area Quarantine on the way, and more

Here is a look at the top NATIONAL stories, chosen by our Pattaya News/TPN National team, from last week, March 1st to the 7th, with some commentary. They are not in any particular level of importance but are listed in the order of date of publication.

1. Thai Minister of Culture says Songkran can be celebrated next month, with precautionary measures for Covid-19

This might be one of the most anticipated decisions by the public since Thailand’s biggest holiday was unfortunately canceled last year due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Although the holiday has given full support by the Cultural Minister, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha initially said that the decision was a “very difficult one”. However, the government decision of the national Songkran celebration guidelines is set for next Monday, March 15th. Water play, however, appears to be allowed, with some guidelines.

Songkran will take place this year, says Ministry of Culture, but with more precautions and Covid-19 rules, focus on tradition and culture

2. Thai Government confirms Pornhub, other major adult websites, will stay blocked in Thailand to “protect the good morals” of their citizens

After the previous Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, was stripped of his role due to a legal situation, the Acting of Minister of Digital Economy and Society confirmed to continue his policy of blocking popular adult website Pornhub and hundreds of other similar websites in Thailand, reasoning that the website allegedly encourages poor moral standpoints and can affect youth in a negative manner. The previous government’s censorship last year had provoked a number of pro-democracy activists who conducted a rally in front of the Digital Ministry in November.

Thai Government confirms Pornhub, other major adult websites, will stay blocked in Thailand to “protect the good morals” of their citizens

3. Prominent Thai protest leaders and pro-democracy musician denied bail over lese majeste charges

Four pro-democracy protest leaders were charged with Section 112 of Thailand’s lese mejeste law since the beginning of January over their pro-democracy movement in September last year. All of them were denied bail by the Criminal Court several times. Additionally, another Thai musician, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues, was also facing a similar charge for reportedly burning a portrait of His Majesty the King last week. He seemingly admitted to the crime on his social media accounts before he was being taken to prison shortly after the Court decision. More prominent protesters of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration had just been charged for the same charges as of yesterday and have also been held without bail, including popular pro-democracy protesters Mike Rayong and Rainbow.

Prominent Thai protest leaders and pro-democracy musician denied bail over lese majeste charges

4. Thailand’s new tourism proposal of ‘Area Hotel Quarantine’ expected to be launched by start of May, still needs final approval from Cabinet

After the national vaccine distribution began, Thailand’s Tourism and Sports Minister raised the idea of ‘Area Hotel Quarantine’ in four popular tourist destinations, including Pattaya, in order to welcome foreign tourists to travel in Thailand with more relaxing restrictions. According to the Tourism Minister, the plan will allow tourists to leave their room and enjoy the hotel facilities if they are proved negative of Covid-19 Coronavirus on the third day of the quarantine. They will then be allowed to leave the hotel and travel in the country if their results still prove negative. The plan, however, has not yet been officially approved by the government but is under discussion among the related Ministries as well as the Cabinet committee.

Thailand’s new tourism proposal ‘Area Hotel Quarantine’ expected to be launched by this May

5. RECAP: Three major pro-democracy demonstrations peacefully staged in several areas around Bangkok

Last Saturday marked a major day for the pro-democracy movements as three demonstrations were staged in the capital and one pro-institution protest. The protests were organized mainly to demand the release of prominent protest leaders and to criticize what they claimed to be the injustice of Thai Criminal law, particularly Section 112 or lese majeste laws. Regardless of the large number of riot police deployed at the sites, all demonstrations remained peaceful throughout the evening.

RECAP: Three major pro-democracy demonstrations peacefully staged in several areas around Bangkok yesterday

And, that is all for this week. Thank you as always for reading the Pattaya News/TPN News!

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