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Pro-democracy activist released on bail pending charges over ‘innocent’ post

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Pro-democracy activist released on bail pending charges over ‘innocent’ post | The Thaiger
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PHOTOS: Khaosod English and The Nation

The Criminal Court yesterday released political activist Karn Ponpraphan on bail of 100,000 baht, whilst setting conditions that he refrain from posting political messages on social media.

25 year old Karn was arrested earlier yesterday by Technology Crime Suppression Division officials, who showed up at his home on Phaholyothin Road in Bangkok for posting on Facebook messages that allegedly violated Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.

Karn was taken to a police station and charged with violating the cybercrime law. If found guilty he faces five years in jail.

Karn’s lawyer stated that his client had posted historical comments that had nothing to do with the Thai monarchy. He also stressed that Karn’s writing never mentioned the Thai monarchy in any way and disputed speculation that Karn was criticising recent traffic woes in Bangkok allegedly caused by a royal motorcade.

The activist, who has previously participated in pro-democracy rallies calling for elections, says he will fight the case because he believed he had been accused of serious allegations for an “innocent post”.

Meanwhile, a senior government official claims five more people could be arrested in connection with “inappropriate” online comments about the Thai monarchy. In an October 2 post, which he has since deleted, Karn made references to the gruesome fates of past European monarchies, though he did not explicitly mention the Thai Royal Family.

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan said he had been informed by the digital economy ministry that five more people of interest could be involved with “offensive comments on social media”. His comments came just hours after Karn Pongpraphapan was charged.

SOURCE: The Nation

Pro-democracy activist released on bail pending charges over ‘innocent’ post | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand

Opposition to provide evidence against government in upcoming debate

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Opposition to provide evidence against government in upcoming debate | The Thaiger

Thailand’s opposition party members are preparing to provide evidence to back the charges being made against the government in an upcoming censure debate. The government is accused of policy-oriented corruption and of playing a part in structural conflicts. The allowance of illegal immigrants into the country and illegal gambling dens is expected to be discussed as it has been attributed to the 2nd wave of Covid-19 sweeping the nation.

Chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang said the opposition parties have proof of wrongdoing that has played a part in damaging the country through mismanagement and hardship to the people. Sutin says more than 1 minister will be questioned.

“Several. At least seven.”

He says they will finalise who will be censured this week based on the information they have gathered, and says they will meet again on Sunday to discuss their debate strategy and time allocation.

The opposition camp is planning to introduce a “no-confidence” motion against the government tomorrow, marking the 2nd of its kind to ever be lodged.

Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the opposition Seri Ruam Thai Party and former police chief says his information will deliver a “serious blow” to the PM after he was criticised for saying “even a hundred prime ministers will not be able to rid Thailand of illegal gambling dens.”

“I made a crusade against illegal gambling dens long before I was the national police chief. What did the PM mean when he said things like that? Did they make the arrests or not? So, sit back and wait for the debate.”

He says he is not sure if Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon would be grilled in the upcoming debate, but named Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, PM and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee are among the targets.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Politics

US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated

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US Ambassador to Thailand quits after Biden inaugurated | The Thaiger

The US Ambassador to Thailand seems to have quit after only serving less than 1 year in office and moments after President Biden’s inauguration. Michael George DeSombre, who was appointed by President Trump in early 2020, made the announcement of his departure on the embassy’s official social media platform yesterday. A day before, he met with PM Prayut to “thank the Royal Thai Government” as is customary with departing ambassadors. DeSombre succeeded career diplomat Glyn T. Davies.

“It has been a privilege serving as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. I am exceedingly proud of all we have done to strengthen the US-Thai relationship. I am signing off now from this account and leaving it in the good hands of our Embassy staff.”

Now, as the US Embassy official website names Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath as its diplomatic mission leader, it is not known when a new ambassador will be chosen by the Biden administration.

Just last year in October, DeSombre wrote, on the same day that President Trump tested positive for the virus, that he was less than supportive of a full-blown shutdown.

“The evidence over the last six months shows that the costs of a really extreme shutdown are generally worse than the benefits and it is better to keep the economy running.”

According to Wikipedia, DeSombre co-founded Republicans Overseas for Americans abroad in 2013 in which the organisation focuses on tax reform. Upon his appointment as Ambassador, DeSombre stated that his office would primarily encourage the economic partnership between the two countries, with a focus on American investments and Thailand’s infrastructure projects and supply chains.

He has also said that US firms were interested in increasing investments in Thailand, including in areas under the 1966 Amity treaty. Thailand and the US established relations in 1818 and later formalised the ties in 1833.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

PM vows action against ‘not factual’ information on vaccine plan

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PM vows action against ‘not factual’ information on vaccine plan | The Thaiger

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha will order legal action against anyone who “distorts information” about the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan after the banned opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had raised the topic of “Royal Vaccine: Who Benefits and Who Doesn’t?” on his Facebook Live feed on Monday.

On the Facebook Live, Thanathorn criticised the government’s vaccine procurement and production, commenting that the government is too slow in securing sufficient inoculations.

“Thailand pinned its hopes only on AstraZeneca which allowed local pharmaceutical manufacturer, Siam Bioscience, to produce its vaccine. The government had not held talks with other countries until Jan 3 when it announced it will buy 2 million doses of vaccines from Sinovac which is a very small quantity… enough for only 1.5% of the population.”

Siam Bioscience is a royally-sponsored company that has partnered AstraZeneca to produce the vaccines for Thailand and other countries in the region.

According to Dr Nakorn Premsiri, director of the National Vaccine Institute, Siam Bioscience invited the British-Swedish pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca to visit its plant to see whether it met the criteria required to produce the vaccine at a minimum of 200 million doses per year. The government approved 600 million baht to improve the plant’s facilities to produce the Covid-19 vaccine according to the requirements of AstraZeneca.

Responding to Thanathorn’s comment, the PM says he will order prosecution for anything “that is distorted and not factual” that gets published, whether in media or on social media and that he has to protect the government’s credibility from those who are “irresponsible” with their remarks.

SOURCE:Bangkok Post

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