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More than 100 new political parties poised to launch next month

Tim Newton

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More than 100 new political parties poised to launch next month | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Suthep Thaugsuban

by Attayuth Bootsripoom

More than 100 new political parties are expected to launch next month after registration opens on Friday. It will be the first time since the military coup in May 2014 that political activities will be officially allowed.

A junta order signed by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha last December allows new political parties to be registered, along with their members, starting on March 1, with existing parties able to start membership confirmation from April 1. The order in effect relaxes some rules and deadlines set in the Political Parties Act.

Starting from this Friday (given that Thursday is a public holiday) party founders are expected to register the names and symbols of new political parties with the Election Commission. As many as 114 groups of people have already informed the EC of their intention to form new parties.

However, the requirements of the Political Parties Act require more than party names and logos for the registration to be accepted. Additional hurdles include a minimum number of registered members and party branches in different regions of the country.

Judging from the nature of the different groups, new parties could be divided into three main categories – those backing the return of junta chief Prayut as prime minister after the next election, those that expect to become a partner in a future coalition government, and those offering themselves as new alternatives in politics.

The first group has gained much attention recently after announcing their pro-military stance and a plan to support Prayut’s return as government head. These include the Reform People Party initiated by former senator Paiboon Nititawan, the Great Mass of People Party initiated by veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban, and the Public State Party reportedly planned by a pro-military group.

According to some sources, the last group of people has links to the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the party’s name could resemble the government’s large-scale development project, which is called “Pracha Rath” in Thai.
Another planned pro-military new party is expected to be called “For Thai Nation”. It was initiated by Ampapan Thanetdejsunthorn, the wife of late former Army commander-in-chief General Sunthorn Kongsompong. While serving as the Armed Forces supreme commander, Sunthorn in 1991 led the National Peacekeeping Council to stage a coup that overthrew the then-elected government.

Deputy Premier and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday declined to comment on reports that Suthep was about to set up a new party in support of Prayut’s return as prime minister.

“I don’t know. You need to ask Suthep,” Prawit said.

The second group expects their new political parties to join the next government as coalition partners. These include a party to be called Citizen Power and set up by a group of old-style politicians from different current and defunct parties – some of them controversial. They include Samphan Lertnuwat, Wichai Chaijitwanitkul, Ekkaporn Rakkwamsuk, Wiwatanachai Nakalasin and Choksamarn Silawong.

New rules under the current Constitution make it more likely for smaller political parties to gain MP seats thanks to the “proportional representation electoral system” in which “every votes count”. Political observers and experts have predicted that many smaller parties will win a handful of MP seats in the next election.

That explains why there is speculation that some well-established existing parties also plan to set up new political parties as nominees in the hope of sharing votes in constituencies dominated by their rival parties.

The last group of new parties will offer themselves as alternatives to the old-time parties. Among them is a party likely to be formed by a group of activists and academics from the Nitirat group, including the young scholar Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. It is reportedly going to be supported by tycoon Thanathorn Juangroong-ruangkit, whose family owns the giant auto-parts maker Thai Summit Group.

More than 100 new political parties poised to launch next month | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Paiboon Nititawan

STORY: The Nation

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

World

Sir Sean Connery dies at 90 years of age

The Thaiger

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Sir Sean Connery dies at 90 years of age | The Thaiger

Sir Sean Connery has died at the age of 90. The Scottish actor was best known for his portrayal of British spy 007 “Bond… James Bond”, doing his first Bond movie in 1962 in “Dr. No”. According to his son, Jason Connery, he died peacefully in his sleep in the Bahamas.

He was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in 2000. He also received the Kennedy Centre Honour, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Scottish newspaper The Sunday Herald called him “The Greatest Living Scot” while People Magazine didn’t just vote him “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1989 but “Sexiest Man of the Century” a decade later.

He was the first to bring the role of James Bond to the big screen , appearing in 7 of the Bond franchise films, and the first of 7 actors that have played the role. Sir Sean was often voted the best actor to have played 007 in the long-running franchise in many polls.

His acting career spanned 5 decades and he eventually won an Oscar in 1988 playing an Irish cop in “The Untouchables”.

Sir Sean’s other films included The Hunt for Red October, Highlander (a Thaiger favourite), Entrapment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Rock.

Jason Connery said many of his family were with him and around when he died peacefully in his sleep.

“We are all working at understanding this huge event as it only happened so recently, even though my dad has been unwell for some time.”

“A sad day for all who knew and loved my dad and a sad loss for all people around the world who enjoyed the wonderful gift he had as an actor.”

Sir Sean was also a long-time supporter of Scottish independence, saying in interviews in the run-up to the 2014 referendum that he might return from his Bahamas home to live in Scotland if it voted to break away from the rest of the UK.

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Visa

100+ foreigners ripped off in education visa scam on Koh Pha Ngan

The Thaiger

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100+ foreigners ripped off in education visa scam on Koh Pha Ngan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Manager Online

A language school in Koh Pha Ngan has ripped off more than 100 tourists claiming that they were able to issue them with a 1 year education visa.

A group of the victims have made an official report with the local police over the scam. The tourists were from the US, UK, Germany, France and Russia. Manager Online report that more than 100 people had been allegedly conned by the school in the Sri Thanu area of the island. The report explained that the people had originally heard about the school being able to get them a 1 year education visa from teachers working there.

The group have now made an official report, sending documentation to Koh Phangan district chief Poonsak Sophonpathumrak and the island’s chief of police Pol Col Phisit Wisetwong and Immigration police.

They allege that they had been asked for 40,000 baht each for courses at the school on the understanding that the school would issue visas for them, changing their Non-B into an ED-Visa, as a way of extending their time in Thailand.

They told police that they had put down a 50% down payment tot eh school. Their visas were promised five weeks ago. But when no paperwork turned up they headed to the mainland Surat Thani immigration office where they were told it wasn’t possible to change a Non-B into an education (ED) visa. When they confronted the school they were told there would be no refunds.

This isn’t the only case of institutions and bogus visa agents taking advantage of the current confusion on visa amnesties and extensions. Immigration police are sorting through a range of similar cases.

Police assure the victims that they are investigation the case.

SOURCE: Manager | Thai Visa

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Economy

US cuts Thailand’s tariff benefits after long-running pork dispute

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US cuts Thailand’s tariff benefits after long-running pork dispute | The Thaiger

Thailand’s duty-free privileges for US$817 million in exports with the US are to be revoked from the end of this year, according to US President Trump in an announcement yesterday. The President blamed a lack of progress in opening the Thai market to US pork products. Trump’s letter announcing the action follows more than 2 years of threats and negotiations with Thai officials over issues ranging from access to Thailand’s markets for US goods and the documented inadequate labour rights in the south east Asian nation.

Washington will now eliminate some tariff benefits for Thailand, accusing the country of failing to allow imports of pork from US producers.

US cuts Thailand's tariff benefits after long-running pork dispute | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Global pork production in 2020, by country (in 1,000 metric tonnes) – statista.com

The suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences access follows a suspension earlier this year on about $1.3 billion worth imports from Thailand, which once had such privileges for about US$4.4 billion in exports to the United States.

The US Trade Representative’s office said the list of products includes mango, pineapple, manicure kits, steel pipes and precious stones., auto parts, dried produce, tools, electrical products and aluminium kitchenware.

Writing to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump said… “I have determined that Thailand has not assured the United States that Thailand will provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets.”

GSP, Generalised System of Preferences, is a 70s-era program of US trade preferences for developing economies aimed at improving workers’ rights and access to broader markets.

“The US Trade Representative’s office also announced that it had closed other GSP eligibility reviews with no loss of benefits for Georgia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. It also said new GSP reviews were opened for Eritrea based on concerns about workers’ rights.”

SOURCE: Reuters | VOANews | statista.com

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