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‘Ministry deals’ in tatters – Palang Pracharat revoke cabinet post promises

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“One source, a core leader in Phalang Pracharat, confirmed the previous deals had been revoked.”

Thailand’s hosting of the ASEAN Summit from June 20 to 23 is forcing Palang Pracharat members to stitch together its government and sort out key ministerial posts before the event.

More than two months after the election, and following the election of a PM that saw Prayut Chan-o-cha return to the office, the parties within the pro-military bloc have yet to reach agreement over ministerial positions. Indeed, it is clear now that the the pro-junta Palang Pracharat party is going to renege on its deals to allocate key ministerial positions to coalition partners in return for their support for the PM vote.

Phalang Pracharat has reportedly insisted on controlling economy-related ministries – Agriculture, Commerce and Transport – that it had earlier agreed to allocate to key partners, the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties. The backtracking follows intensive talks before the vote for the PM as Palang Pracharat struggled to get a clear majority of votes in the lower house.

One source, a core leader in Phalang Pracharat, confirmed the previous deals had been revoked. If the Democrats and Bhumjaithai refused to accept the new arrangement, the source said, Prayut would have final say on the issue.

Phalang Pracharat leader Uttama Savanayana said in a press conference yesterday that as the PM, it was traditional that Prayut would make the final decision on the Cabinet.

Sources also said the disagreement stemmed from the election of the PM on Wednesday, in which an absent Prayut was criticised for 12 hours before finally being approved in the vote. In charge of the session was the Democrats’ Chuan Leekpai, who was elected House Speaker with support from the pro-junta bloc.

Phalang Pracharat decided it could not lose the crucial economic positions to its partners without suffering disadvantage, the sources said. It would also make it difficult for Phalang Pracharat to play the leading role in administration, they added.

It has been reported that if Phalang Pracharat does not gain control over the key ministries, economist Somkid Jatusripitak would withdraw from the bloc.

Fresh talks among the partners would be based on the political party system by which party executives lead the negotiations and decisions are made at party meetings, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the anti-junta bloc was preparing to form a united opposition to confront the Prayut administration in Parliament.

The Pheu Thai Party could replace its leader, Viroj Pao-in, with Chiang Mai MP Sompong Amornvivat, as it prepares for parliamentary skirmishes as the leading opposition party.

Its secretary-general, Phumtham Wechayachai, admitted on Friday that Pheu Thai began considering the leadership change after political developments landed it in opposition.

Phumtham said Sompong would be an appropriate choice for the job as an experienced parliamentarian, a good organiser and a respected figure able to lead the seven-party opposition. But the decision would have to be made at a party meeting in July or August, he said.

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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Royal Thai police say new uniforms will help in pursuit of criminals

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Stock photo via US National Archives

The Royal Thai Police say new uniforms will help them be more “agile” in their pursuits of criminals. The uniform’s prototype is still under trials and has yet to be launched. The move to change uniforms has been attempted in the past, with tourist police once seeing their usual long-sleeved khaki shirt with shoulder pads and metal badges morph to short-sleeved shirts and blue shorts. But previous modifications to their attires was short-lived.

Somprasong Yenthuam, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau has been assigned by the police chief to oversee the uniform change this time around. A committee has been formed to study the input gathered from officers across the country, as well as the public. But the police chief wants the new uniforms to be suited to patrol operations with a final decision being made after a 10-day trial period of the uniforms.

The new style of uniform is currently being tested at the 3 police stations of Chakkrawat, Bang Yi Khan and Bukhalo in Bangkok. The trial started on May 3 and will run until this Thursday, with 10 active-duty officers, at the operational level, trying out the new uniforms.

“The three police stations were chosen because they are ready for the trial as the areas under their jurisdiction are fairly large with many residents.”

The uniforms feature a baseball-style cap, which is much lighter than the traditional police helmets, and a shirt with 2 panels. The upper panel is made of khaki while the lower is made from a more breathable fabric which is easy to launder. The new badges are made of cloth, taking into account previous complaints by officers of the badges’ jagged edges injuring them while working. The new pants feature an elastic waistband and multiple pockets. The new shoes are designed for running without causing foot pain.

“The committee has studied police uniforms from around the world before deciding on the prototype. But what is most important is the opinion of police officers who use it, and the public. Whether the proposed new police uniform will convey less power or authority remains to be seen. It is not finalised yet and can still be changed.”

The new uniforms cost around 2,000 baht but Somprasong says the department will use its annual provision to pay for the uniforms without needing to add more money. Krisanaphong Poothakool, an associate professor of criminology and assistant president at Rangsit University, says the new uniform must help officers be more agile.

“However, how the officers perform their duties and behave themselves in public is more important than their uniforms. Changing the uniform will be useless if the officers fail to improve their behaviour.”

Royal Thai police say new uniforms will help in pursuit of criminals | News by ThaigerSOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand to remain on US Trade watch list over online piracy and intellectual property violations

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Stock photo by Christin Hume for Unsplash

Thailand is to remain on the US Trade Representative’s watch list as it tackles intellectual property violations and online piracy. Director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, Vuttikrai Leewiraphan, says the USTR made the announcement in its annual report that was released April 30. The report includes findings for more than 100 trading partners after engaging with stakeholders and further research.

“The US government admires the Thai government’s and Commerce Ministry’s progress in preventing IP infringement, the continuous development of IP protection and crackdowns on violations in both the offline and online markets.”

The report indicated that Thailand continues to make progress by seizing counterfeit and pirated goods and has increased efforts to combat the sale of those goods online, and publishing its efforts. It also noted that Thailand increased its efforts against online piracy, through intra-agency coordination, but concerns still remain as counterfeit and pirated goods are still readily available in markets and online.

In addition, the US has urged Thailand to ensure that amendments to its Copyright Act address concerns expressed by the US and other foreign governments and stakeholders, including overly broad technological protection measure exceptions, procedural obstacles to enforcement against unauthorised camcording, and unauthorised collective management organisations.

Vuttikrai has pledged to work with US agencies to build an IP work plan to remove Thailand from all US lists in the future. He said IP rights protections should lead to more Thais benefitting from IP, leading to an increase in the country’s competitiveness and economic development. But he has not released details on the counter-measures to be taken that would ensure the government is continuing to make strides towards addressing the issue of counterfeit and pirated goods even further.

Last year, the USTR released its annual report on Intellectual Property Protection and Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy, with Thailand being included among 22 other countries on the Watch List:

  • Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam

SOURCE: Bangkok Post/USTR.gov

 

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Deputy PM declares Thammanat Prompow controversy finished

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PHOTO: Thailand's Deputy Agriculture Minister Prompao talks to reporters after a government cabinet meeting in Bangkok (via Reuters)

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says that the debate is over regarding Thammanat Prompow, the controversial Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives and influential Palang Pracharath Party ‘fixer’.

The Constitutional court has already ruled that he is qualified to hold office under Thai law and will keep his position, though a huge backlash followed the ruling, and the public wondered how his 1993 heroin trafficking conviction in Australia. Then using the name ‘Manat Bophlom’, he was convicted of conspiring to import a traffic able amount of heroin, serving 4 years of a 6 year sentence.

According to Wikipedia, Thammanat parliamentary declaration of assets in August 2019 listed “2 wives, 7 children, and a net worth of about $42 million, including a Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz along with 12 Hermès and 13 Chanel handbags, luxury watches, and Thai Buddha amulets.”

Thai law says that no one who has been convicted of an indictable offence is eligible to hold public office, but the new decision seems to imply that anything that happens outside of Thailand’s border does not qualify. A legal expert, the Deputy PM says that this ruling is not in opposition to the rules about convicts holding office.

He says that a conviction by Australia’s New South Wales Court is not legally binding in Thailand and therefore does not disqualify Thammanat. Only a jail sentence from a Thai court would be considered a roadblock to a candidate being confirmed to hold government office.

Thai immigration law, however, determines that convictions in home countries will bar people from entry into Thailand. The decision also calls into question the legitimacy of the Australian/Thailand extradition treaty which saw Thammanat deported back to Thailand after serving 4 years of his 6 year sentence.

But the Council of State had declared that someone in jail for 2 years cannot hold office within 5 years of release, regardless of whether the jailing was in Thailand or in another country. The 4 year jail term Thammanat served in Australia ended in 1997 so the 5-year grace period has already passed.

The Deputy PM says that this ruling by the Constitutional Court does set a new precedent for future issues of possible MP candidates that may have been in trouble with the law outside of Thailand. But he stopped short of supporting Thammanat’s prior conduct unconditionally, declining to comment.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has been under pressure to investigate Thammanat and whether his conduct has been ethical. The Deputy PM said that the Constitutional Court ruling does not whitewash any other issues Thammanat may face.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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