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Constitutional Court meets today to rule on future of Thai Raksa Chart

The Thaiger



Constitutional Court meets today to rule on future of Thai Raksa Chart | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai Raksa Chart party leader Preechaphol Pongpanit awaits the decision of the Constitutional Court today whether to proceed with the case to disband the party

The Constitutional Court is meeting today to decide whether or not to consider the request of the Election Commission to have the Thai Raksa Chart Party dissolved for breaching the political parties act.

The Election Commission accuses the pro-Thaksin political party of violating Article 92 of the Political Parties Act by nominating Princess Ubolratana last Friday as its candidate for PM in the upcoming general election.

It claims that the nomination is considered to be an “act that might be hostile to the democratic system with HM the King as head of state.”

EC Secretary General Jarungvith Phumma went to the Constitutional Court yesterday to submit a request for the party to be disbanded for the alleged offence.  But, executives of Thai Raksa Chart are vowing to seek justice with the court and insisted that what it did was in no way a violation of the law.

The Office of the Constitutional Court acknowledged the request the court will decide today whether there are grounds to proceed with the case.

The EC secretary-general said the commission unanimously arrived at the resolution on late Tuesday night.

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Thaksin is in Hong Kong. Thailand wants to extradite him.

The Thaiger



Thaksin is in Hong Kong. Thailand wants to extradite him. | The Thaiger

The exiled former Thai PM, Thaksin Shinawatra, is in Hong Kong to be part of the wedding party in the marriage of his youngest daughter Paetongtarn ‘Ing’ Shinawatra to a commercial pilot, Pidok Sooksawas.

Thai authorities are seeking the extradition of the exiled former PM from Hong Kong, according to local HK media. Many of the powerful Shinawatra clan are descending on the Chinese city for the wedding ahead of Sunday’s general election.

Thaksin is either a hero or criminal, depending on your side of the Thai political fence. He has outstanding charges and a prison sentence awaiting him if he ever sets foot back in Thailand. Thaksin, who was PM from 2001 to 2006, was deposed in a coup and has been in self-exile since 2008 to escape criminal charges he says are trumped up by the military and establishment.

Thaksin’s political party, which eventually morphed into the current Pheu Thai party, is expected to win the most votes in the March 24 poll but will fall short of winning a majority, according to recent polls.

Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paetongtarn “Ing” Shinawatra will marry commercial pilot Pidok Sooksawas on Friday at the Rosewood Hotel. The couple, and Ing’s Dad, have already arrived.

Thaksin’s younger sister, Yingluck, who was also deposed by the military after serving as PM from 2011 to 2014, is expected to be at the wedding too.

Chatchom Akapin, head of the Thai public prosecutor’s overseas department, says a formal extradition request would be put in as soon as authorities can find out where he is staying. He says this is the first time such a request was being made to Hong Kong authorities.

But before you get too excited, Thailand and Hong Kong do not have an extradition treaty. To further complicate matters, Thaksin is believed to be using a non-Thai passport.

A former dean of Thammasat University’s law faculty, Panat Tasneeyanond, said in the South China Morning Post that extradition of a wanted person between Hong Kong and Thailand could still take place under the principle of reciprocity.

“In the event that Hong Kong would like Thailand’s cooperation to extradite a person in future, it might assist now if there is a request from Thailand and if it thinks the request is apt,” he said in the SCMP.

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Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday.

The Thaiger



Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

Sunday’s election will not be the end, it will only be another episode in a two-decade long drama as Thailand struggles with democracy and attempts to throw off the shackles of nearly a century of military tampering in political affairs.

Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrats, head into Sunday’s election with leader Abhisit Vejjajiva facing some tough decisions in the first poll since the 2014 coup.

At one end of the political spectrum in Thailand are the pro-military, pro-status quo parties. At the other are the pro-democracy, pro-Thaksin parties. And between them, the Democrats trying to find some political middle ground.

The way the votes are likely to fall, no party will have enough seats in the new lower house of the Thai parliament. There will have to be some long phone calls and concessions made by everyone to cobble together a workable coalition. Either way, the Democrats are likely to be the ones roped into any coalition – they won’t get enough votes to win government but will have a substantial handful to bargain their place at the table.

Either way they are going to upset a sizable majority of the pro-military or pro-democracy parties. And the Democrat voters won’t be happy with they party leaders getting cosy with the opposition parties.

But Abhisit Vejjajiva argues that there is a scenario that could return him to the PMs office, which he held from 2008 to 2011 after a court dissolved a pro-Thaksin government.

“We will be the alternative in leading Thailand out of the last decade of troubles.”

But the polls and pundits say this scenario is unlikely.

The March 24 election is being billed by the NCPO as returning south east Asia’s second-largest economy to civilian and democratic rule. But the new constitution, overseen by the generals simply enshrines military influence over politics. Whilst it will be a free and fair vote for the lower house of government, the upper house of 250 military Senators is already set in stone.

Abhisit this month said in a campaign video he would not support Prayut Chan-o-cha staying on as PM, which he said will “breed conflict and is against the Democrat party’s principle that the people have the power”.

But at the same time, Abhisit made it clear he would be loath to work with the main pro-Thaksin party, Pheu Thai. The Democrats have long decried the Thaksin movement as corrupt and a threat to independent democratic institutions.

“I don’t want dictatorship and I don’t want corrupt people,” Abhisit said.

“Corrupt politicians provided the pretexts for the military to stage all the coups in the last 20 years.”

So here I am, stuck in the middle with you!

The biggest problem Abhisit faces next Sunday is an electorate that has become increasingly polarised, and the middle ground, with all the best intentions in the world, being lost in the background noise of the bitter political struggle.

There is no doubt that the charismatic Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his party members, will be a part of any new co-alition following the election – they will have numbers and numbers count. But the Democrat vision, one of the oldest political visions in Thailand, will be lost amongst the ongoing battle between the pro-Thaksin and pro-military voices.

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Premchai verdict and prison sentence comes just 5 days before the election

The Thaiger



Premchai verdict and prison sentence comes just 5 days before the election | The Thaiger

Premchai Karnasutra, once listed among Thailand’s richest people, has been found guilty in a Kanchanaburi court of poaching protected animals, and sentenced to 16 months in jail.

Wildlife rangers arrested the 64 year old tycoon along with four other associates in the Thungyai Naresuan nature reserve, a world heritage site in Kanchanaburi in February last year.

The incident has caused public outrage in Thailand over the past year since the story came to life. Social media has been running strong with people expressing their scepticism that the country’s justice system would bring the 64 year old to justice, claiming the system often allows the rich and powerful to walk free.

The judge said Premchai, the president of construction giant Italian-Thai Development, was sentenced to a prison term for poaching protected animals and illegal possession of protected animal carcasses, and firearms offenses.

Wildlife rangers said they tracked down gunshots and followed the sound at the time only to find the carcasses of a black leopard, a barking deer and Kalij pheasants left behind.

The black leopard, listed as a vulnerable species, was found dissected and scalped.

The rangers, said they were offered bribes but turned them down. They also found two rifles, a double-barrelled shotgun, and ammunition by the campsite.

Apart from the social media outrage in the lead up to today’s verdict, graffiti depicting black leopards has also popped up around the country in a bid to pressure authorities to find Premchai guilty.

With the election only five days away the outcome of today’s verdict and sentencing was always likely to provide ammunition for undecided voters.

Premchai’s legal team have not announced an appeal of the sentence at this stage.

Kanchanaburi is Thailand’s far west on the Myanmar border.

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