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Thailand’s Army chief warns of a ‘proxy crisis’

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Thailand’s Army chief warns of a ‘proxy crisis’ | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Matichon

The Army chief, General Apirat Kongsompong, is warning Thais about what he sees as a “proxy crisis” facing the country. The comments, without directly referring to the event by name, were a veiled criticism of the “Run Against Dictatorship” event coming up next month.

The commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army took the “everything’s OK, but…” approach to answering questions about the forthcoming sports and quasi-political event.

He said the Army supported all kinds of physical activities to strengthen the mind and body.

“However there are people who have ulterior motives and are trying to use these activities as a cover for other objectives, which defeat the purpose of physical training.”

The “Run Against Dictatorship” (translated from Thai more precisely as “Run against Uncle”, referring to the Thai PM whose nickname is ‘Uncle Tu’) event is scheduled for January 12. The Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his supporters are expected to take part in the event, foreshadowed in the recent mid-city protest that attracted around 3,000 supporters.

Without even applying for a permit for the ‘run’, the organisers have run into hurdles merely trying to find a venue to announce January’s running event. Read that story here…

“Run against Dictatorship” organisers threatened with legal action by “those in power”

When the Army Chief was asked about measures to handle a possible accompanying political rally or politically-motivate crowds next year, Apirat said: “There’s no need to worry as Thailand has overcome various kinds of crises in the past. However, there’s a different kind of crisis that we need to prepare for and it’s ‘proxy crisis’.”

Explaining his door-stop meme “proxy crisis” further, Apirat explained that a proxy crisis was organised or manipulated by someone to fulfill their goals.

“The mastermind (clearly referring to Thanathorn) probably realises it is not possible to fight the authority head-on, so a proxy is appointed to fight for them.”

“A proxy crisis is different from a proxy war; look up their definitions to see how they are different. No matter what kind of crisis we are facing, the most important thing is that everyone must obey the law.”

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and his Future Forward Party, performed well in the March election coming third behind the two leading parties and outshining the traditional centrist Democrats party. In a run-off for the parliamentary-elected PM position, Thanathorn missed out by a handful of votes from the eventual winner Prayut Chan-o-cha, the former head of the military government.

General Apirat Kongsompong has positioned himself as a staunch supporter of the new pseudo-military government and is an ardent royalist. He has spoken against any opposition to the current government.

“If Thai people disobey the laws and the Constitution by ignoring the resolutions of judicial bodies, it will raise questions among foreign countries regarding the sanctity of our laws.”

When asked who he thought was the mastermind behind these proxies, Apirat said there could be many people who used different proxies for different purposes.

Stirring the pot, and dragging the turmoil in Thailand’s south into the wider political debate, he said…

“The unrest situation in the South and political demonstrations could be the work of these proxies, too.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

18 Bangkok motorbike taxi drivers get prison for 2019 mass brawl killing a bystander

Caitlin Ashworth

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18 Bangkok motorbike taxi drivers get prison for 2019 mass brawl killing a bystander | The Thaiger

18 motorbike taxi drivers are sentenced to prison for their involvement in a mass street fight in June 2019 where a bystander was killed by a stray bullet. Bangkok’s Prakhonong Court handed down prison sentences ranging from 5 years to more than 27 years, according to Thai media.

The fight broke out between two gangs of win drivers, named by Thai media as Soi 1 and Soi 2, on Soi Udomsuk 1 in Bangkok’s Bang Na district. Around 50 to 60 drivers from Soi 1 attacked 20 to 30 drivers from Soi 2 with knives and other weapons, apparently because Soi 2 drivers, who were unregistered and operated without the proper orange identification vests, took customers away from the Soi 1 group.

A 20 year old Kerry Express courier, Weerawat Pheungkrut, was shot and killed when a stray bullet struck him in the left eyebrow. The drivers who were directly involved with the murder were sentenced to the longest prison terms, including leader of Soi 1 known as Pramuk. He was sentenced to 27 years and 10 months in prison and ordered to pay a 5,000 baht fine as well as 280,000 baht in compensation with a 7.5% yearly interest.

Other drivers with high prison sentences and also ordered to pay 280,000 baht in compensation with a 7.5% yearly interest:

  • Best was sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay a 5,000 baht.
  • Am was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay a 5,000 baht fine.
  • X was sentenced to 24 years and 6 months in prison and ordered to pay a 2,500 baht fine.

Drivers with lower prison sentences:

  • Beer was sentenced to 6 years and 8 months in prison and ordered to pay a 6,666 baht fine.
  • Too, Nui, Bank, Fluke, Mai, Tam and Moo and Jack were sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay a 5,000 baht fine.
  • Oo, Nott, Bank and Ae were sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison and ordered to pay a 5,000 baht fine.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Business

Suvarnabhumi expansion being reviewed in line with “new normal” expectations

Maya Taylor

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Suvarnabhumi expansion being reviewed in line with “new normal” expectations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Oriental Express

The 44 billion baht northern expansion of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport is being revised, to meet “new normal” requirements, according to Airports of Thailand. AOT president, Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, says the process will take 1 or 2 months to complete.

Nation Thailand reports that the airport’s new northern terminal will have the capacity to handle 30 million passengers a year, with Nitinai remaining optimistic about a return to normal figures next year. He says the availability of effective Covid-19 vaccines should fuel a return to normality, with passenger traffic at Suvarnabhumi eventually reaching pre-Covid numbers of 65 million in 2023.

He adds that the Satellite Terminal 1 should be completed in 2022, with plans also being drawn up to extend the airport’s existing terminal east and west. The Satellite Terminal 1 is expected to increase the airport’s capacity by an additional 15 million passengers a year.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

Protest planned for courthouse tomorrow as verdict on PM’s residence expected

Maya Taylor

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Protest planned for courthouse tomorrow as verdict on PM’s residence expected | The Thaiger
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The Ratsadon (People’s Party) movement is planning a protest outside the Constitutional Court tomorrow as a verdict is handed down in relation to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s occupancy of a military residence, despite his retirement from the army. The ruling is expected at 3.00pm tomorrow and comes as a result of a petition lodged by opposition MPs in March, in which the PM was accused of a conflict of interest as a result of his residence.

Members of the Pheu Thai Party are leading the charge, claiming the PM should have moved out of the accommodation at the time of his retirement in 2014. For his part, the PM says he’ll move out if the court rules against him, insisting his occupancy of the military residence is not an abuse of power. According to a report in the Bangkok Post today, the military says the property has been re-classified as a “visitor’s house” and says it was provided to the PM for security reasons.

Wirat Ratana­sate from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party says members have not yet discussed a list of potential replacement candidates, should the court’s ruling go against the PM. Were that to happen, it would mean the end of his term as leader and the end of his current cabinet. Wirat remains optimistic however, that the court will find in the PM’s favour.

“We may have to discuss the matter with coalition parties. Still, let’s wait for the court’s ruling. Don’t jump to any conclusion that there will be a political accident. The outcome may turn out to be good.”

Meanwhile, authorities in Bangkok say they’re ready to handle tomorrow’s planned protest outside the courthouse. Pakkapong Pongpetra from the Metropolitan Police Bureau says officers have devised a number of security measures to maintain order during the rally and ensure events inside the courtroom can proceed as normal.

His statement comes as Ramate Rattanachaweng from the Democrat Party issues a warning to anti-government protesters that pressurising the court could lead to charges of contempt of court. He is calling on them to cancel tomorrow’s gathering.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition say they’re confident the court will rule against the PM, with the legal chief of the Pheu Thai Party, Chusak Sirinil, saying the designation of “visitor’s house” does not indicate a permanent residence.

“A visitor’s house is for temporary stays of 7 to 10 days, not forever.”

Prasert Chantararuangthong, also from Pheu Thai, dismisses the army’s explanation that the PM needs to live in a military residence for security reasons, pointing out that the army is not responsible for prime ministerial security. Meanwhile, fellow Pheu Thai MP, Arunee Kasayanont, suggests the PM should pay attention to what the people are demanding and resign immediately, regardless of the verdict.

“General Prayut can make a graceful exit by resigning before December 2 and thus respond to the demand of demonstrators.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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