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Former immigration supremo says gunshots linked to airport biometrics project

Greeley Pulitzer

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Former immigration supremo says gunshots linked to airport biometrics project | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Surachat speaking to the media in Bangkok yesterday - Der Farang
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“There’s only one motive” – Surachat Hakparn

The former Thai immigration police chief Surachat Hakparn, aka.”Big Joke”, denies that the incident, where gunshots were fired into his car on Monday, was a staged stunt. But he has addressed a media scrum speculating the incident is linked to the Immigration Bureau’s controversial procurement procedures for its biometrics and smart car projects.

Surachat has already handed over documents relating to the projects to investigating police while being questioned at Bangkok’s Bang Rak police station on Tuesday.

The media-friendly former chief of immigration police, who many predicted would one day become police commissioner before his untimely side-lining from duties in April 2019, told reporters he believed his efforts to block the projects was the only possible motive for the attack on his white Lexus SUV.

“There is a single motive behind the shooting… those whose interest in the biometric system procurement was affected. When I was the Immigration Bureau chief, I cancelled it.”

In a written statement, whilst still heading up the immigration police last year, Surachat urged national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda to consider cancelling the projects. The projects, together worth two billion baht and which have since gone ahead, involved the purchase of biometric equipment to scan faces and fingerprints of passengers at Thailand’s six major airports. At the time Surachat cited long delays and questioned the equipment’s efficacy as reasons for wanting to cancel the project.

After Surachat was unceremoniously dumped from his senior post, and put into a civilian advisory role with the PM’s office, his successor said the committee selecting the contractor had to be “fair to the contractor.”

His successor, the current immigration chief, has seemingly gone out of his way to praise the new biometrics system at the airports. He has called media conferences often to point out the successes of the system when it has identified suspects passing through airports and leading to arrests.

Meanwhile, Sittra Biabangkerd from the People Lawyers’ Team Foundation is petitioning the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the decision to go ahead with the procurement of the new biometrics system – Surachat denies any connection with Sittra’s move.

Sittra says the shooting was linked to the NACC’s intention to call Surachate to provide more information as part of the graft probe. He’s been posting on his Facebook page in his efforts to keep the petition public.

Surachat says the incident has neither intimidated him nor dissuaded him from talking to the anti-graft agency, should they want to interview him. But he’s warned the national police chief Chakthip to take responsibility if police could not find the men who shot at his car.

Bangkok police say the placement of the bullet holes shows the attackers probably meant to ‘make a statement of warning’, not to kill him. Either that or they were very poor shots. The bullets all, but one, entered the lower section of the passenger side rear door. There was no one in the car at the time of the incident on Monday evening.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

Opposition will ask NACC to probe Thai PM on three counts

Greeley Pulitzer

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Opposition will ask NACC to probe Thai PM on three counts | The Thaiger
PHOTO - Te Aung THU

Seven of Thailand’s opposition parties are demanding that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) investigate Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha for allegedly breaching the law on three issues. They claim…

• The Prime Minister failed to state the sources of the Government’s revenue in its policy statement presented to parliament last year.

• The process of selection of senators was illegal due to the presence of members of the post-coup junta on the selection committee.

• The Prime Minister failed to recite the oath of office fully during the swearing-in ceremony, an issue which remains unresolved as the Constitutional Court has not accepted the matter for consideration.

The acting chief opposition whip and Prachachart party secretary-general Thavee Sodsong says the move is unrelated to the upcoming censure debate, where seven cabinet ministers, as well as the PM, are to be challenged.

The opposition will submit the official censure motion to the Lower House tomorrow. The House will set the dates for a no-confidence debate when the Government is ready defend itself against the motion.

Phumtham Vechayachai, advisor to the leader of the opposition, said that the Government should step down if it is shown that the Government cannot solve the nation’s pressing economic problems.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Politics

Thailand’s Future Forward party cleared in surprise Court verdict

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s Future Forward party cleared in surprise Court verdict | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, delighted at this morning's verdict - Thai PBS World

The Constitutional Court have beaten their own schedule for a verdict by announcing late this morning a decision that cleared the Future Forward Party of charges that it was attempting to undermine “the democratic system under the monarchy”.

The ruling is one of the few that have come out on the side of Government opposition parties in Thailand, and is considered a triumph for the young political party leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, the party’s top executives, FF voters and broader support base.

Future Forward’s supporters gathered at its headquarters this morning, expecting the worst, but then erupted in cheers when the Constitutional Court handed down its verdict.

The court ruled that “all the charges against the party were not enough grounds to prove it acted in a way that would harm the constitutional monarchy”.

Dr. Natthaporn Toprayoon, a lawyer and a former advisor to the ombudsman, had asked the Court to consider dissolving the political party last July, alleging they were involved in the obscure 300 year old “Illuminati” group, and that its executives were openly critical of the Thai monarchy.

The court said that it was the duty of the country’s Election Commission to check and amend any discrepancies in the party’s stated policies and ensure it “conformed with the constitutional requirements”.

It dismissed “as groundless” Natthaporn’s charge that the party was emulating the bizarre secret society known as “Illuminati”. In his original submission, Natthaporn claimed that in reverse the party’s logo bears close resemblance to the Illuminati’s triangle sign.

Thanathorn and other leaders of the party planned to call a press conference later in the afternoon.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Future Forward members gather to hear Constitutional Court’s verdict at 2pm

The Thaiger

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Future Forward members gather to hear Constitutional Court’s verdict at 2pm | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The claim tried to connect Thailand's Future Forward party to the "Illuminati"

Members and supporters of Thailand’s Future Forward Party are massing at the party’s headquarters in the on New Phetchaburi Road in Bangkok awaiting the Constitutional Court’s ruling on charges that it has engaged “in activities detrimental to the democratic system”. The case stems from a complain six months ago that Future Forward was involved in the imaginary “Illuminati” group, thought to want to overthrow the world’s monarchies.

Active in the 1700’s, the Illuminati were alleged to be a secret society behind campaigns to overthrow Europe’s monarchies and influence the American declaration of independence (in 1776). It has been a popular conspiracy theory directed at progressive democracies in recent decades.

The Future Forward party stands accused of attempting to undermine Thailand’s democratic system, as a constitutional monarchy. The charges stem from selected commentary from Future Forward executives, critical of the Thai monarchy. They also claim that the party’s political manifesto doesn’t specifically mention support for democracy under the monarchy.

The charges, which Future Forward leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit dismissed as “nonsense” when they were came out last July, were filed by Dr. Natthaporn Toprayoon, a Thai lawyer and a former advisor to the ombudsman’s office.

Today’s judgement will be a historical political case, both in terms of the evidence provided over the “Illuminati” case, and the impact it will have on the Future Forward party in Thailand.

The party has already announced that it will call a media conference after the court delivers its verdict this afternoon. Yesterday Amnesty International called on the Thai government to stop what it described as “legal intimidation” of the Future Forward Party. It wants to see all charges filed against the party withdrawn.

The verdict is scheduled to be handed down from 2pm today.

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