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Can the Princess be PM?

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Analysis

The Princess was nominated. Her brother, HM Thai King, objected. Thai Raksa Chart postponed their campaign launch on Saturday morning. The PM and Election Commission have stayed silent.

With the weekend allowing cooler heads to sift through yesterday’s events, next week it is hoped some clarity will emerge about the Princess’ nomination as a prime ministerial candidate that threw the election campaign a curved ball yesterday morning.

Princess Ubolratana’s position within the Thai Royal Family doesn’t preclude her from running for a political position, although to defy The King’s wishes, after his strongly worded statement on Friday night, would place the country in an unprecedented constitutional conundrum.

That she was nominated by a political party with strong ties to the former disgraced and fugitive PM, Thaksin Shinawatra, also places an additionally complex spin on the Princess’ decision to accept the nomination.

For her to run as a candidate for the role of PM would put all other candidates in a very difficult position, including the current PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also was nominated as a PM candidate yesterday.

With her clear connections to the royal family it would make questioning her, or even running against her, untenable or even impossible within the dynamic of Thai society. Would any candidate dare to run against the King’s sister?

The Election Commission, by law, has the final say on the acceptance of candidates. But, to be sure, the batteries on the smartphones of politicians and palace officials will be running low this weekend.

At this stage, the man who has the most to lose, the current PM, has made no comment about the nomination.

Can the Princess be PM? | News by The Thaiger

Princess Ubolratana is the eldest child of Rama 9, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October 2016, and Queen Sirikit. According to some analysts, royal family members of her ‘rank’ are not barred from politics but have opted to stay neutral in the past, a long-standing protocol in most modern constitutional monarchies.

Ubolratana was close to her father – the two won a gold medal in sailing at the 1967 Southeast Asian Games. She relinquished her royal title when she married her American husband Peter Ladd Jensen in 1972 and settled in the US, where she studied biochemistry.

The couple had three children but their second, Khun Bhumi Jensen – known as Khun Poom – died in the 2004 tsunami that ravaged southern Thailand.

Following her divorce in 1998, she returned to Thailand permanently in 2001 and became active in royal life. She has been working as a representative for the Thai tourism authority for more than 10 years. He also set up several charities, including the Khun Poom Foundation, named after her son, that assists children with autism and other learning disabilities, and headed a campaign that helps young people stay off drugs.

She is regularly featured in the daily TV coverage of the royal family going about their duties in the Kingdom and is generally treated with the same respect as the other leading members of the family.

She is also well known and loved in Thailand as a keen singer and actor, appearing in several films, and is active on social media, where posts of her singing and dancing have gone viral on her Instagram page.

On March 24, Thais will vote for the 500 seat lower house of parliament. The 250 member upper house, the National Legislative Council, will be chosen entirely by the military.

Can the Princess be PM? | News by The Thaiger

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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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