Thai activists in weak condition on hunger strike, say doctors

Jailed activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phupong are demanding lese-majesty law be repealed

Two young Thai activists accused of insulting the monarchy are in a weak, exhausted condition and experiencing symptoms such as nosebleeds and chest pain after a hunger strike during which they have only sipped water, according to their lawyer and doctors.

Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, 21, and Orawan “Bam” Phupong, 23, were accused of breaching Thailand’s lese-majesty law after they held up a poster at a shopping mall asking people whether they believed that royal motorcades – which lead to road closures – create trouble for the public. Tantawan faces a second lese-majesty case over a speech she gave on Facebook live.

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Revealed: how world’s biggest fossil fuel firms ‘profited in Myanmar after coup’

Leaked tax records suggest subsidiaries of international gas field contractors continued to make millions after the coup

In the two years since a murderous junta launched a coup in Myanmar, some of the world’s biggest oil and gas service companies continued to make millions of dollars from operations that have helped prop up the military regime, tax documents seen by the Guardian suggest.

The Myanmar military seized power in February 2021 and according to the United Nations special rapporteur on Myanmar, it is “committing war crimes and crimes against humanity daily”. More than 2,940 people, including children, pro-democracy activists and other civilians have been killed, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

US oil services giant Halliburton’s Singapore-based subsidiary Myanmar Energy Services reported pre-tax profits of $6.3m in Myanmar in the year to September 2021, which includes eight months while the junta was in power.

Houston-headquartered oil services company Baker Hughes branch in Yangon reported pre-tax profits of $2.64m in the country in the six months to March 2022.

US firm Diamond Offshore Drilling reported $37m in fees to the Myanmar tax authority during the year to September 2021 and another $24.2m from then until March 2022.

Schlumberger Logelco (Yangon Branch), the Panama-based subsidiary of the US-listed world’s largest offshore drilling company, earned revenues of $51.7m in the year to September 2021 in Myanmar and as late as September 2022 was owed $200,000 in service fees from the junta’s energy ministry.

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‘I was a drunk for 20 years’: The unlikely US priest revered in the slums of Bangkok

Father Joe arrived in Bangkok in the 1970’s. Fifty years, 15 schools and 30,000 students later, he credits the community with saving him

“This other priest is always drunk, so you go take his place.”

With that simple instruction, Joseph H Maeir, a Catholic priest from the United States, found himself in Thailand, ending up in the slums of Bangkok in the 1970s.

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Bangkok air pollution prompts advice to work from home

Thai capital’s already bad air made worse by forest fires and burning on farms

People in Bangkok have been advised to work from home and wear face masks due to air pollution that has worsened to unhealthy levels.

Officials urged people to use public transport rather than private cars for commuting, and said the authorities would seek to reduce sources of pollution such as outdoor burning and construction activities. Face masks would be distributed to vulnerable people, Bangkok authorities said.

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Thailand’s tuk-tuks go green amid rising demand for electric models

Travel without the combustion-engine fumes and noise is increasingly popular in the country with some of the world’s worst air pollution

Thailand’s iconic, gas-guzzling tuk-tuks are being replaced by a greener, more energy efficient model, offering travellers a more environmentally friendly way of getting around what is one of the world’s worst countries when it comes to air pollution.

“The benefits are quite clear in terms of the environment”, says Krisada Kritayakirana, co-founder and CEO of start-up Urban Mobility Tech. “When you use traditional tuk-tuks, you can smell the gas and it sometimes could be unpleasant. With the electric tuk-tuks, basically you don’t have any noise and you don’t have any emission from tailpipes.”

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‘We are ready’: relief and excitement builds in Thailand with Chinese tourists set to return

South-east Asian nations avoid rules targeting China visitors despite Covid risks, and hope the influx will revive battered tourism sectors

After almost three years of little to no business, Thai tour guide operator Anchalee Vittayanuntapornkul is more than relieved that Chinese tourists will soon be allowed to travel again. “I’m sure if you ask anyone in the tourism industry, the only nationality that they are waiting to see come back is the Chinese tourists,” says Anchalee, who is based in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

On Sunday, China scrapped the requirement for inbound travellers to quarantine, making holidaying abroad much easier. The policy change is expected to boost the tourism sector across the wider region, including south-east Asia, which depended heavily on Chinese travellers before the pandemic.

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Thai police accused of ‘sham’ inquiry into alleged forced labour at former Tesco supplier

Exclusive: Burmese workers say officials took one day to conclude no laws were broken at VK Garment factory

Thai police have been accused of conducting a “sham” investigation into potential forced labour at a garment factory formerly used by Tesco after officials took one day to conclude no laws were broken.

The Guardian revealed last month that Burmese workers who produced F&F jeans for Tesco in Thailand reported being made to work 99-hour weeks for illegally low pay in terrible conditions.

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‘To gain respect, you need success’: the trans tycoon from Thailand who bought up Miss Universe

Anne Jakrajutatip, boss of JKN Global, recently made headlines by buying the firm behind the contest for $20m

Anne Jakrajutatip, 43, has a story unlike many of the world’s media moguls. Growing up in Bangkok, the child of shop owners, she felt that she was trapped in the wrong body. At school, she faced constant bullying and stigma. She tried to carefully manage her identity, showing what she believed to be her true self in front of friends, and acting as a good son in front of her parents. She experienced sexual harassment while still a child.

It was reading a local newspaper article about Oprah Winfrey, a survivor of child abuse, that led Jakrajutatip to want a career in the media and to become a TV chatshow host. A microphone seemed like a powerful weapon.

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Thai police offer cash prizes for videos of worst road violations

Effort to reduce new year collisions has been criticised for encouraging drivers to film others or stage violations

Thai police are taking an alternative approach to their annual road safety campaign by offering cash prizes of 10,000 baht (£240) for the best – or worst – videos of traffic violations.

About 22,000 people die each year in Thailand in road traffic accidents, one of the worst death rates in the world. The week over the new year, known locally as the “seven dangerous days”, has the biggest spike as people speed around the country.

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Deadly fire engulfs Cambodian casino on border with Thailand – video

At least 10 people have died and dozens have been injured in a fire at a venue near the border between Cambodia and Thailand. Hundreds of rescue workers from both countries struggled to contain the blaze that reportedly started on the third floor of the Grand Diamond City hotel and casino in Poipet

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Death toll rises in Cambodia casino hotel fire

At least 19 people now known to have died but figure could rise as rescue teams have not reached all areas

A fire that lasted more than 12 hours in a Cambodian hotel casino killed at least 19 people and injured scores more, with an official warning that other people could be missing.

“There are 19 dead so far as we see bodies and bones,” said Sek Sokhom, the director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial information department, warning “the dead figure could be higher” as rescue teams have not reached many parts of the complex.

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Thai police raid former Tesco clothing supplier at centre of sweatshop claims

VK Garment factory in Mae Sot is subject of a UK lawsuit against the supermarket from 130 ex-workers

Thai police have raided a clothing factory previously used by Tesco that is the subject of a UK lawsuit over alleged sweatshop conditions.

The Guardian revealed earlier this week that Burmese workers who produced F&F jeans for Tesco in Thailand reported being trapped in, in effect, forced labour, working 99-hour weeks for illegally low pay in appalling conditions.

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Nepal to release ‘The Serpent’ serial killer Charles Sobhraj

Nepalese supreme court orders release on account of old age of man jailed for murders of two tourists

The Nepalese supreme court has ordered the release of the French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, known as “the Serpent”, who preyed on western tourists travelling on the hippy trail in south Asia in the 1970s and was jailed for life for the murder of an American woman.

Sobhraj, who has French citizenship and is of Indian and Vietnamese descent, has been linked to the killings of 20 foreign tourists across Thailand, Nepal and India. He is said to have lured them in before drugging, robbing and murdering them.

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Six bodies recovered during search for missing marines from sunken Thai warship

Twenty-three remain unaccounted for after the HTMS Sukhothai was knocked over by four-metre waves and strong winds late on Sunday

Thailand’s navy has discovered the bodies of six marines after a small warship sank in the Gulf of Thailand. One marine was rescued alive on Monday as the military mobilised helicopters, warships and unmanned drones off its central coast.

Twenty-three people remained unaccounted for after the HTMS Sukhothai was knocked over by four-metre waves and strong winds late on Sunday. Some were without life vests.

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Who is Princess Bha? Thailand’s presumed royal heir is lying in hospital

Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, 44, has degrees from Cornell and was Thailand’s ambassador to Austria, yet little is known beyond her public image

The American-educated Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, known by her nickname Princess Bha, is widely viewed as the most viable option to succeed the throne in Thailand. She is the oldest daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his only child from his first marriage.

The king has never declared that the princess would take his place but she is one of just three children with royal titles and is a commander in his bodyguard unit.

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