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Back to the future. Democrats looking over their shoulder for election candidate.

Thaiger

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By SOMROUTAI SAPSOMBOON

The future of Chuan Leekpai, the Democrat Party’s chief adviser and former leader, is the subject of speculation as some muse that he will return as its chief ahead of the next general election.

The speculation stems from two separate assumptions – that the Democrats and the Pheu Thai Party may join forces to prevent the junta’s return to power, and that the Democrats need a new leader to boost their chances of winning the election.

The first assumption responds to a growing belief that the ruling junta is attempting to extend its stay in power through returning General Prayut Chan-o-cha as a non-elected prime minister, if he could garner sufficient support from the junta-appointed Senate and pro-junta political parties.

The second assumption responds to the Democrats’ repeated election losses under the current party leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has been at the party’s helm since March 2005 with strong support from his mentor Chuan.

The Democrats last won a general election in 1992 under Chuan’s leadership. And many people, including some party colleagues, believe that only his comeback as the party’s leader could improve their chances of beating Pheu Thai in the election. But Chuan recently said there was only a small likelihood that he would return to the leadership, although he would not completely rule it out.

Two-time former PM Chuan, who turns 80 in July, served as the Democrat leader for more than 12 years from 1991 to 2003. During that period, he became prime minister twice – 1992 to 1995, and 1997 to 2001. Both Pheu Thai and Democrat parties – the country’s largest political umbrellas – seem to be taking advantage of the speculation of a possible alliance after the next election.

Such speculation certainly has undermined a possible alliance between the Democrats and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), while also having boosted the Democrats’ bargaining power and image as a “democracy champion”. It certainly looks better for the Democrats to join hands with elected civilians than military “dictators”.
However, due to their bitter rivalry in recent years, Pheu Thai is unlikely to work with the Democrat Party under Abhisit’s leadership.

Chuan is a “more acceptable candidate” as government head if both parties were to form a coalition after the election. If results of the previous elections are any indication, the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties are expected to come first and second in the next national poll. And either of them could end up leading lead a coalition government after the vote, depending on how other parties fare. But it will be a little different this time.

There will be three major factions after the next election – Pheu Thai, Democrat and smaller parties that support General Prayut, the incumbent prime minister and NCPO chief. Political observers believe an alliance between any two groups could form a new coalition government.

Pheu Thai is more likely to choose the Democrats over a pro-Prayut faction. But the Democrats are more inclined to favour pro-Prayut parties if they have to choose, according to some party sources. Only a landslide victory can help Pheu Thai form the next government without having to rely on the Democrats. And that is a post-election possibility in the view of many politicians, even those from rival parties.

Responding to speculation that Chuan may make a comeback as the Democrat leader, deputy party chief Ong-art Klampaiboon said there have been no signs of possible changes at the top. He said Abhisit still enjoys support from many party members and that the current leader is determined to head the party ticket going into the next election battle. But the term of Abhisit and other party executives ends this April. And Chuan is not alone as a likely candidate to contest the Democrat leadership. Others include current deputy leaders Jurin Laksanawisit, Korn Chatikavanij and Apirak Kosayodhin.

Back to the future. Democrats looking over their shoulder for election candidate. | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Democrat Party’s chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, left, is pictured with current leader Abhisit Vejjajiva at a recent charity concert.

 

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Environment

Asia holds 99 of the 100 most environmentally at-risk cities

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Verisk Maplecroft's global risk assessment for environmentally vulnerable cities. (via Verisk Maplecroft)

If you live in 1 of the 100 most environmentally vulnerable cities in the world, then unless you live in Lima, Peru, we can guess what continent you’re on. According to a recent risk assessment study, 99 out of the top 100 most environmentally vulnerable cities are located in Asia with 80% of them in India or China alone. 1.5 billion people in 400 large cities worldwide are considered to be at high or extreme risk. Natural disasters and climate change, heatwaves, water shortages, and pollution that shortens the average life span are amongst the environmental risks facing people today.

City’s hold more than half the world’s population and are the financial drivers of a country’s economy, but most cities will continue to suffer worse and worse air quality, pollution, extreme weather, water scarcity, and other natural hazards. Asian cities are hard hit, with Karachi ranked 12th, Manila 71st, and Bangkok holding the 84th spot on the list of cities at risk environmentally.

Holding the uncoveted top spot on the list is the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, with frequent heatwaves, flooding, and pollution only increasing. New Delhi ranked second, joined by other Indian cities such as Chennai in 3rd, Agra in 6th, Kanpur in 10th, Jaipur in 22nd, Lucknow in 24th, and Mumbai in 27th. In total, 13 of the top 20 at-risk cities on the list are in India.

Indian cities also fill the entire top 20 list of urban areas housing over a million inhabitants with the worst air quality, with New Delhi ranking first. Every year a million people die in India due to air pollution with 7 million total deaths globally. A lot of the air pollution issues stem from burning coal and other fossil fuels.

Turning from the skies to the water, China holds 35 of the top 50 cities with the most water pollution plus 13 of the top 15 water-stressed cities. There is hope that China’s emerging middle class will push for a higher quality of life, rallying for cleaner air and water and persuading the government to act more environmentally responsible.

China’s government seems to be beginning to act, shutting down factories until they meet emission goals and taking other strong steps. India has a less cohesive economy and a government with a looser grip on industry, putting it at a disadvantage in tackling environmental issues.

The Middle East and North Africa are the regions most at risk of environmentally calamitous events outside of Asia. Focusing on global warming, sub-Saharan Africa holds 40 of the 45 most at-risk cities. Abidjan, Brazzaville, Freetown, Kigali, Mombasa, Monrovia and other large cities are vulnerable. Lagos and Kinshasa are the two cities in Africa with the largest populations and are included in the list of threatened cities.

Africa is in the unenviable position of being the continent that contributes the least to global warming and climate change but will suffer the most from the results which will bring heatwaves, increasingly bad droughts, flooding and more powerful storms. Large portions of the continent are not nearly prepared enough to deal with the resulting environmental disasters.

To compile the list of risk assessment environmentally for cities, researchers at Verisk Maplecroft looked at human vulnerability, the danger of extreme natural events, and how well the country could adapt to environmental change. They evaluated the livability and operational capacity of a city including its real estate assets and investment potential. The full report can be seen here.

SOURCE: Yahoo

 

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Phuket

Phuket tightens restrictions: No parties, no visits from friends

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Photo by PR Phuket

No, your friends can’t come over. No parties. No drinking with friends. No large gatherings. As part of Phuket’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19, local authorities have tightened restrictions and say friends are not allowed to gather at private homes.

“No parties of any kind allowed… No house party, no friends gathering in the residence.”

Along with temporary closures of some businesses and venues, the order says, parties involving alcohol are banned and gatherings of more than 30 people are banned. The only gatherings allowed are religious ceremonies like weddings and funerals.

Foreigners who violate any of Phuket’s disease control measures could be deported and lose their permission to stay in Thailand. On Sunday, 2 British men in Phuket were each fined 6,000 baht for having a “party.” Only 6 people were gathered at the home. Police from the Cherng Talay station came by the home after a call from a neighbour.

Phuket tightens restrictions: No parties, no visits from friends | News by Thaiger

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

3 organisers of Phuket’s Kolour superspreader event charged

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: 3 managers involved in the Kolour superspreader event have been charged.

As Thailand still wrestles to control the third wave of Covid-19, much of which stems from entertainment venues in Bangkok and a massive party in Phuket, Patong police announced that the managers of the Phuket venues that hosted the Kolour superspreader event will be charged under the Emergency Decree. The case report was filed with the public prosecutor yesterday according to the Patong police chief, confirming that 3 people will be prosecuted for the event.

The Kolour Beachside Festival was held April 2 and 3 with events at Café Del Mar Phuket in Kamala, and Shelter Phuket Dance and Night Club and Illuzion Nightclub, both in Patong. Before the festival, Phuket had gone more than a hundred days without any new Covid-19 infections, but by April 7 the Phuket provincial Public Health office announced 8 new infections, half of which had been at the Kolour parties. In the following weeks, officials plead for attendees to be tested as infections spread.

Charges were delayed in being filed to the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s office as a special investigation committee was ordered to be created to oversee the investigation at the request of Region 8’s Police Commander. That committee brought together officials from various law enforcement in the area including the Patong Police, Kamala Police, Phuket Provincial Police, and the Region 8 Police to investigate the Kolour event before anyone was charged.

The manager of Café Del Mar, along with the managing director and the manager of Shelter and Illuzion, which are under the same management team, will be charged for the Kolour festival violating Thailand’s Emergency Decree that was declared to help protect the country from Covid-19 outbreaks. A breach of the Emergency Decree can be held liable for up to 40,000 Baht and 2 years in jail under Section 9 of the Decree.

The latter 2 are also facing charges of operating an unlicensed entertainment venue. This carries the possibility of another year in prison and a fine of up to 60,000 baht, in accordance with Thai Law under Section 26 of the Entertainment Place Act.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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