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Democrats walk away from coalition as bickering continues over ministerial portfolios

The Thaiger & The Nation



Democrats walk away from coalition as bickering continues over ministerial portfolios | The Thaiger
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It was off, then on again. Now it appears that it’s off, but that could change as today continues.

The Pro-army Palang Pracharat’s efforts to build a coalition to form a majority government in the new Thai lower house have reached a new stumbling block amid bickering over ministerial portfolios,.

Just two days ago the Bhumjaithai and Democrat parties seemed poised to join with Palang Pracharat and sign an agreement.

But the deal has hit a snag after Phalang Pracharat and Democrat parties could not see eye to eye on the post of agriculture minister. Control of the ministry assumes significance in solving issues related to agricultural product prices, which impact a great number of voters.

“Now it is back to square one,” said a Democrat Party source late yesterday.

An influential faction in the pro-junta bloc drew a line in the sand saying they wouldn’t give up the agriculture ministerial position after having already sacrificed the house speaker’s post to Democrat patriarch Chuan Leekpai.

The bloc reportedly tried to bargain with the Democrats by offering the position of education minister but to no avail.

The situation was made worse after Phalang Pracharat’s No 1 party-list MP, Nattapol Teepsuwan, told the press that the bloc could still back junta chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha to be the PM, even without support from the Democrats.

As PM, Prayut would have the power to dissolve Parliament and call an election should the formation of a coalition be impossible, according to Nattapol.

Though the Democrat Party only has 53 seats in the lower house against Phalang Pracharat’s 116, its move could trigger a domino effect and shut the doors on the formation of a pro-junta coalition government. Bhumjaithai Party, which had accepted Phalang Pracharat’s invitation on Monday, is also likely to review its stance.

Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday the party could not work with Phalang Pracharat unless it had a simple majority to legitimately form a government. Chartthaipattana Party, which had earlier said it would support the Phalang Pracharat-led coalition in Parliament, also appeared discontented and might change its stance over the allocation of Cabinet seats.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party’s secretary-general, Phumtham Wechayachai, yesterday blamed the Constitution as the root cause of this deadlock. He urged all affected parties to unite in the public interest and to amend the charter.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thanathorn disqualified as Member of Parliament – Thai Constitutional Court

The Thaiger



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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School funding challenge for bilingual curriculum

Maya Taylor



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.

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Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises

The Thaiger



Palang Pracharat are warned not to renege on Thai ministry promises | The Thaiger

Amidst rumours circulating that the Palang Pracharat Party may renege on some of the promises it made to secure MP votes from the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, the Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit says he believes the Palang Pracharat party will keep its promises.

Thepthai Senpong MP, a key Democrat party member, is warning that the coalition government will be in big trouble if the promise is broken. He says the coalition government would “function with great difficulty” if the Palang Pracharat party does not stick to the promises it made to the Democrats, according to Thai PBS.

Meanwhile, Somsak Thepsutin, one of the Sam Mitr faction within Palang Pracharat, says that if one of their group isn’t offered the agriculture minister’s post (reportedly offered to the Democrats as part of the ‘deal’), the promises they made with Thai voters during the election campaign could be affected.

Somsak has already spoken of his aspirations to become the next agriculture minister, despite the portfolio being used as a political football during negotiations with the Democrats.

But the new leader of the Democrats, Jurin Laksanavisit insists that the issue of the quota of ministries for his MPs has already been settled. He re-iterated yesterday that Palang Pracharat would not go back on its promises to the Democrats. He added that he had not been informed of any changes to their arrangements despite being aware of the media reports about the prevarication.

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Nation

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