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Army chief’s intervention in election campaign backfires

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Army chief’s intervention in election campaign backfires | The Thaiger
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by Jitraporn Sennawong and Nattaphat Phromkaew

The Thai Army chief’s attempt to scare politicians from discussing the Army’s budget and reform by indirectly calling them “enemies of the state” has backfired.

Many Thais have emerged with additional proposals for reforms of the military, and others are protesting the chief’s invocation of the jingoistic military anthem.

Political critics and social media yesterday largely voiced the opinion that the Army, which often intervenes in politics, deserves a budget reduction and reform.

Social activist Veera Somkwamkid wrote on his Facebook page that he agreed with the policy proposal to cut the defence budget.

“It is a source from which high-ranked officers could unlawfully seek benefits.”

“The cut should not affect ordinary military officers because we’re not cutting their salary,” Veera said, adding that the surplus from the cut could be allocated to other areas such as public health and education.

Junta critic and leader of Seree Ruam Thai party Sereepisuth Temeeyaves yesterday said his party also proposed to reduce the size of the Army and would reallocate the funds to improve the quality of people’s life.

“The Army is part of the problem facing the country, especially in the past five years since the coup. If I get a chance to run the country, I will abolish conscription and disband the unnecessary units including their headquarters and the court.”

“We’re not at war. These are not necessary,” he told an election rally in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Army chief’s intervention in election campaign backfires | News by The Thaiger

The criticism follows the Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong instructing politicians to listen to the anthem “Nak Paendin” (“worthless”) if they were planning to reduce the defence budget or nullify conscription.

“Nak Paendin” was part of right-wing Thai propaganda in 1970s aimed at the communist movement in the country.

The lyrics labels leftists as enemies of the state that needed to be eliminated. A favourite of ultra-nationalists, it is viewed by many others as hate-filled and divisive.

Following heavy public criticism concerning both the need for Army reform and the Army’s chief’s aggressive reaction, a military spokesman yesterday came out to defend its controversial budget.

While the public appears sceptical of the relations between the military backed government and the rising defence budget, the spokesman Lt General Kongcheep Tantravanich said the allocation was proportionate.

The budget rise (from 183 billion before the 2014 coup to 227 billion baht this year) was also proportionate to the national budget’s overall increase, he said. In fact, he insisted, it had been reduced by some 5 per cent in relative terms. A budget cut would affect numerous security units and their work, including disaster relief units, he said.

Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong has not responded to the criticism or commented about the reaction to his comments on Monday.

Army chief’s intervention in election campaign backfires | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Politics

Leaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters

The Thaiger

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Leaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: bbc.com

A leaked internal memo shows riot police have been ordered to mobilise and prepare detention facilities to accommodate arrested student protesters. The police memo, dated Friday, orders the heavily armed Border Patrol Police to be “on standby” for student-led anti-government protests in Bangkok. Although a provision of the Emergency Decree banning public gatherings was removed last week, police say it remains in force until the beginning of the decree’s extension which kicks in at the start of August.

The regional border patrol police commander, who signed the order, confirmed the letter is genuine, but says it’s only routine procedure.

“No, we’re not going to arrest them. It’s the normal thing we do. We have to be prepared for orders. The accommodations are mainly for reinforcements from other provinces. But I admit that some of the spaces are spared for protesters in case there’s an order to arrest them.”

According to the order, 2 companies of riot police will be housed at the regional Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district just north of Bangkok, while about 100 protesters would be held at a separate building inside the base.

A “guest house” is also to be prepared to accommodate 5 protest leaders.

The authorities insist the ongoing protests held by student activists violate the Emergency Decree and could be met with legal action, though no one has been arrested so far, and the rallies have been peaceful.

The leader of the Free Youth Movement, one of the groups behind the July 18 protest at Bangkok’s Democracy monument, suggested the memo might have been intentionally leaked by police as part of their psychological operations.

“They just want to threaten protesters. Our movement is not against the law or causing harm to anyone.”

The group is calling for the government to call a new election and draft a new Constitution, with a deadline set for this Saturday. A spokesman says more intense rallies will follow if the demands are not met.

Leaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters | News by The ThaigerLeaked memo shows Thai police preparing to arrest protesters | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Politics

Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court

The Thaiger

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Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court | The Thaiger

Leader of the Future Forward Party, 41 year old Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament following the handing down of a guilty verdict by the Thai Constitutional Court today.

The Court’s findings say Thanathorn was still holding shares in a media company when he registered to run in the March 24 national election. Thanathorn presented evidence during hearings into case declaring that he’d divested himself of any company shares before the calling of the election.

Constitutional pundits say the ruling now paves the way for Thanathorn to be charged under Article 151 of the Elections Act which specifies a jail term of up to 10 years and a political ban for 20 years for anyone found guilty of registering to run in MP elections while knowing that he or she is not qualified.

Thanathorn was originally accused by the Election Commission of still holding 675,000 shares in his family-owned V Luck Media Company when he registered to run in the general election in March this year.

During his defence Thanathorn insisted that the company was not a mass media entity in the general sense as it published only an in-flight magazine and a glossy franchised lifestyle magazine. He also presented evidence that he had transferred all the shares in question to his mother prior to registering to run in the election.

Article 98 of the Constitution prohibits proprietors or share-holders of media companies to run in elections out of fear they would have undue political influence, according to Thai PBS World.

The court dismissed Thanathorn’s defence on both points and revoked his status as an elected MP effective as of May 23 when he was suspended from active duty as MP after the Election Commission made the charges.

Hundreds of supporters of Future Forward Party showed disappointment as they listened to the verdict broadcast on close-circuit TV in the lobby of the Constitutional Court under tight security. Representatives from the US Embassy and EU in Bangkok were also seen attending the session as observers.

Despite his absence from the Parliamentary chamber, and his suspension as an MP at the time, Thanathorn narrowly missed being elected as the Thai PM in the first sitting of the new Parliament.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament - Thai Constitutional Court | News by The Thaiger

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News

School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum

Maya Taylor

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School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum | The Thaiger

The secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Amnat Wichayanuwat, says plans to introduce a bilingual school curriculum at all grade levels have thrown up an obstacle for meeting funding requirements.

The bilingual curriculum plans were announced by the Education Minister last week in an effort to improve English proficiency among the Thai population. It’s hoped to have the curriculum in place from kindergarten level at more than 2,000 district schools from the beginning of the 2020 academic year.

However, the OBEC secretary-general says one of the conditions under which schools can qualify for Mini English Programme (MEP) funding, is by showing that Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET) scores have consistently improved for at least three years.

Amnat says it’s simply not possible for schools to meet this requirement.

“This is impossible because these schools haven’t even started with the new lessons. To launch the MEP classrooms efficiently, we will therefore adjust the qualification and submit it to the Provincial Schools Admission Committee for consideration.”

Amnat says OBEC will reinstate provincial English Resource and Instruction Centres to help determine the curriculum. He draws attention to the need to examine English language proficiency in both teachers and students and work on areas that need improvement.

“And there will be an English proficiency assessment using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages standard. This will expand the opportunities for education and create equality among educational institutes.”

Thailand was recently ranked 74 out of 100 on the English language proficiency index, with its ranking continuing to drop for three years in a row.

See earlier story HERE.

SOURCE:nationthailand.com

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