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US embassy, Amnesty International oppose Future Forward dissolution decision

Jack Burton

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US embassy, Amnesty International oppose Future Forward dissolution decision | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party, addresses supporters following the Constitutional Court's ruling yesterday - Chanat Katanyu, Bangkok Post
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In a statement today, the US embassy in Bangkok said the Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the Future Forward party risks disenfranchising more than six million Thai voters who voted for the party in last March’s general election.

“The United States strongly supports democratic governance around the world, and appreciates Thailand’s recent seating of a democratically elected government. While the United States does not favor or support any particular political party in Thailand, more than six million voters chose the Future Party in March 24 elections. The decision to disband the party risks disenfranchising those voters and raises questions about their representation within Thailand’s electoral system.”

Amnesty International yesterday called on authorities to reverse the decision and to “restore genuine rights to freedom of expression and association in Thailand.”

In a statement issued last night, regional director Nicholas Bequelin said the decision illustrates how Thai authorities use judicial processes to intimidate, harass and target political opposition.

“The dissolution of the Future Forward party is the culmination of the Thai authorities’ relentless onslaught against the party’s leaders and members since the lead-up to the March 2019 general elections. Both before and since the elections, the authorities have [issued] sweeping and vaguely worded legal restrictions to dissolve the party, and… disqualified the party leader from sitting in the parliament.”

“The Thai government, members of parliament, and all political parties in Thailand must commit to protecting the rights of freedom of expression and association. The international community, which has on the whole remained silent about human rights violations in Thailand, must clearly demonstrate it will not accept the outlawing of political opposition.”

Meanwhile, former National Intelligence Agency deputy director Nanthiwat Samart has accused the US embassy in Bangkok of interfering in Thailand’s domestic affairs. In an open online letter addressed to the US embassy, Nanthiwat said each country has its own history, culture and traditions, which do not necessarily align.

US embassy, Amnesty International oppose Future Forward dissolution decision | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Former National Intelligence Agency deputy director Nanthiwat Samart – Thai PBS World

“Friendly countries can express their fondness, concern and good wishes toward one another, but must respect each other’s differences and laws, which vary from country to country. The US judicial system is completely different from that in Thailand. America must not interfere and refrain from criticizing the law and judicial process of Thailand.”

“Politics is about the fight for power to administer a country. The US must not openly take sides with any political party, otherwise the relations between the two countries and the people of Thailand and the US may be affected. Hopefully, the US embassy understands diplomatic protocols.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

Thailand’s emergency decree extended again

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s emergency decree extended again | The Thaiger
Thairath

Thailand’s nationwide Emergency Decree has been extended again, this time until the end of February. The decree gives the Thai government the ability to set policies and procedures to prevent the control the spread of Covid-19… things like restricting travel, setting up road checkpoints and introducing other restrictions without having to consult the parliament.

All the latest articles about Thailand’s Covid-19 situation are on one page HERE.

Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri says it is just an extension of the decree that is currently in place that was initially set to end on January 15. The extension, adding on another 45 days, was proposed by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and approved by the Thai Cabinet this week.

The initial emergency decree was enacted in March last year and has been extended ever since.

The number of local Covid-19 infections has spiked since the outbreak at the Samut Sakhon seafood market last month, spreading to 55 of Thailand’s 77 provinces. The ‘second wave’ has stemmed from a cluster of migrant workers in the nation’s seafood industry and markets in the Gulf of Thailand coastal province, as well as cluster of infections focussed on illegal gambling dens, principally in the eastern coastal provinces and Bangkok.

Here’s a video about the new Mor Chana app which you will probably be required to use if you are travelling around Thailand at this time…

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Politics

YouTube blocks music video with pro-democracy protest footage after legal complaint

The Thaiger

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YouTube blocks music video with pro-democracy protest footage after legal complaint | The Thaiger
PHOTO: R.A.D.

A music video by a pro-democracy movement band was blocked on YouTube in Thailand due to a legal complaint from the government, according to the message posted on the video’s page.

The band Rap Against Dictatorship, also known as RAD, made a post on their Facebook fan page saying that the music video for their song “Reform” was blocked on YouTube.

“Happy New Year everyone. Our new music video has been blocked. This is obviously the ‘New Year Gift’ from the government.”

The band members are active in the pro-democracy movement and 2 of them are currently facing criminal charges relating to a protest in July.

The song conveys a definition of the word ‘reform’ in the Thai language and mentions the current problems in Thailand, including politics, social inequality and the right of protesters to seek justice.

The music video had footage from recent protests in Bangkok including clips from rallies in October and November where water cannons were deployed, some spraying tear gas on pro-democracy protesters.

The music video was first released in about mid-November and reached over 300,000 views on YouTube within 9 hours. It now has over 9 million views. The band was told that the music video is against the law without any other explanations from YouTube or government agencies.

RAD made a reputation with its previous work “Prathet Ku Mi” (“Which is My Country”) released last year and it went viral across the country. The group was also recognised one of the three winners of the 2019 Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent that was presented in 2019 at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

SOURCE: Facebook|Prachathai English

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Multiple challenges to Thai PM’s leadership have failed

Maya Taylor

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Multiple challenges to Thai PM’s leadership have failed | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Some compare him to Teflon for his ability to survive all manner of allegations, because the legal challenges keep coming and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha keeps winning. The Thai PM has now survived 3 legal challenges to his leadership, not to mention the countless calls for his resignation that were a hallmark of the recent pro-democracy protests. It’s probably safe to say he’s not going anywhere for a while.

The first challenge to the PM’s leadership came in September of last year, when he fought off an ombudsman ruling that he had not recited the full oath of office while being sworn in the previous July. In that case, the Constitutional Court ruled that it didn’t have the authority to make a call on the matter.

About a week later, the court had to rule on whether or not the PM could be considered a state official while in the role of chief of the National Council for Peace and Order. Opposition parties argued that the PM was a state official while head of the NCPO, meaning he was not entitled to hold the position of PM after last year’s election. However, the court found that as the NCPO had seized power in a 2014 coup, the position of its chief was not under state command, therefore he could not be considered a state official.

The third challenge came last month, when the Constitutional Court again found in the PM’s favour, acquitting him of charges that he was illegally occupying a military residence. The opposition had accused the PM of a conflict of interest by living in the property after he had retired from the army. The court ruled that the PM was permitted to remain in the property under a 2005 army regulation, which permits retired army generals to stay living in military residences if they continue to serve the country well. The PM has lived at the army property since becoming army chief in 2010.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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