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Prawit apologises after insensitive comments about Chinese boat disaster

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Prawit apologises after insensitive comments about Chinese boat disaster | The Thaiger
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“They build their own ships, don’t follow our rules.”

Thailand’s #2, deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan is again in hot water, this time for making comments about the Chinese that died in last Thursday’s boat disaster in Phuket, the second worst maritime disaster in Thailand (after the 2004 tsunami).

He suggested that Chinese people are to be blamed for the tourist ferry incident that killed at least 46 people when they drowned following the sinking of ‘Phoenix’.

In his Monday remarks, sparking anger on Chinese social media, Prawit made claims that ‘Phoenix’ was operated by an illegal Chinese business. He also said that ‘they’ ignored the forecasts on the day. Police said the incident remains under investigation.

“The Chinese did it to the Chinese. So what can I do about it? They build their own ships, don’t follow our rules.”

The controversial deputy PM was referring to current investigations that the company who owned and operated ‘Phoenix’ was a Thai shelf-company which was, on paper, Thai but in reality just used as a smokescreen to disguise the Chinese funding and operation of the boat in the waters off Phuket. The operators and some staff have also been revealed to be part of the Tranlee Travel Company that had its assets seized last year in a zero-dollar tour crackdown on Phuket.

Read more about the investigation HERE.

In a later interview with reporters the 72 year old deputy apologised saying he was only speaking based on what he was told.

“If I said anything that upsets people, I apologise.”

Thailand’s defence ministry spokesperson , Kongcheep Tantravanich, also jumped to the deputy PMs defence later re-affirming the apology. He said Thai officials are continuing to assist survivors and have been co-ordinating with Chinese officials at all times.

Read more about zero-dollar tourism HERE.

A Thai Facebook page following Chinese social media said Prawit’s comment drew widespread condemnation from Chinese netizens.

Investigators have so far called into question the design of the ‘Phoenix’, the quality and manufacture of the buoyancy vests, the Thai officials who may have issued registration paperwork and the bonfires of the actual company running the tour operation.

The Chinese tourism ministry in Beijing has already issued a statement urging Chinese travelers to closely monitor weather and sea conditions and obey all warnings.

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Protests

Traffic jams in Bangkok as police use containers to block protesters from Crown Property Bureau

Maya Taylor

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Traffic jams in Bangkok as police use containers to block protesters from Crown Property Bureau | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook / Wassana Nanuam

The hashtag #รถติด, (traffic jam), was among Twitter’s top 3 trending hashtags this morning as Bangkok motorists battled congestion caused by the police’s attempts to block protesters from the Crown Property Bureau.

First they used small portable metal barricades, then razor wire, then concrete blocks, then old buses. Now they’re going for the heavy “blockade” artillery – steel shipping containers. Officers secured the roads surrounding the Crown Property Bureau with the containers as barriers, which in turn caused traffic jams in the capital, despite confirmation that the protest location had changed. Photos of the containers put in place to act as makeshift barriers were widely shared on social media.

Last night, protest leaders confirmed the location of today’s rally has shifted from the Crown Property Bureau to the headquarters of the Siam Commercial Bank in the Chatuchak district of the capital. Activists say this is to avoid clashes with rival royalist groups who they claim are being sent to confront them. The Free Youth Movement posted confirmation of the new location on social media at around 10.30pm last night.

“Breaking: The November 25 rally will take place at SCB headquarters! This move is to avoid clashing with an organised mob and avoid playing the tyrant’s game. Meet us there at 3pm to claim back the property that should have been the people’s.”

The change of venue has thrown the police into confusion as they’d already shipped in up to 6,000 police to assist with “crowd control” around the Crown Property Bureau buildings.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Protests

Location of Bangkok rally changed from Crown Property Bureau to Siam Commercial Bank headquarters

Maya Taylor

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Location of Bangkok rally changed from Crown Property Bureau to Siam Commercial Bank headquarters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thaitakasago.co.th

Protest leaders from the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration and the Free Youth Movement have confirmed that the location of today’s planned rally in Bangkok has been changed to the headquarters of Siam Commercial Bank. The protest had been due to take place at the Crown Property Bureau at 3.00pm.

SCB is a Thai bank that was set up under the auspices of the Crown Property Bureau. Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn is the largest single shareholder, owning 23.35% of SCB shares. The bank has announced that its head office, located at the Ratchayothin intersection in the Chatuchak district of the capital, will be closed today.

Leaders from both protest groups say someone will be available at the Democracy Monument to update activists who may not have heard about the change of location. They say the decision to change location was taken to avoid clashes with royalist groups who planned to confront them at the CPB.

Thai PBS World reports that earlier this morning, the Free Youth Movement posted a video on social media, in which they discuss, “the failed Thai state” and how the police do not make them feel safe.

“Under this state, people are ruled by capitalists, military and feudalists who wretchedly write the laws.”

Earlier, police had warned protesters to stay away from the planned rally site at the Crown Property Bureau. Over 6,000 officers are on duty to deal with any potential unrest, including reinforcements from provinces beyond Bangkok.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Bangkok Post

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Protests

UPDATE: Protesters flip the location of today’s protest. Counter protests planned.

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UPDATE: Protesters flip the location of today’s protest. Counter protests planned. | The Thaiger
PHOTO: VOA News

UPDATE: The protesters have moved the location of today’s protests to the the headquarters of SCB (Siam Commercial Bank). SCB is a Thai bank that was set up under the auspices of the Crown Property Bureau. Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn is the largest single shareholder, owning 23.35% of SCB shares.

ORIGINAL STORY: Stay away. That’s the orders from police as protesters are set to rally outside the Crown Property Bureau. Demonstrators will be required to stay at least 150 metres away from the building in Phitsanulok Road. It is the first protest to put the issues of HM the King’s wealth, and the role of the Thai Monarch in the Thai constitution, front and centre as the main focus.

A record 6,000 police have been mobilised to handle the expected large crowd. Additional police have been shipped in from the provinces to bolster security for today’s rally. They will be enforcing the “public assembly law” and require protesters to stay at least 150 metres away from the symbolic buildings. Army re-inforcements are also on hand, according to an Army spokesperson.

Last week the Thai PM said the government and police would use the “full force of the law” to arrest and charge protesters if they transgressed, including the country’s else majesty laws. The latter seems an almost certain outcome of today’s protests. The list of the protester’s demands – for the Thai PM to resign, the dissolution of the government, a new constitution and reform of the role of the Thai Monarch – are at odds with the Thai “establishment”, the conservative Prayut government and Army.

Police have already secured the area, blocking off entry to the Crown Property Bureau. 8 days ago there were ugly scene outside the Thai Parliament when police clashed with anti-government protesters who were trying to get to the front of the building to conduct their protest. A smaller gathering of pro-government/royalist protesters were also conducting a rally earlier in the day.

Mid afternoon, the police retreated after the anti-government protesters stormed their barricades, despite the police turning water cannons and tear gas on them, allowing the two factions to go at each other for a short time, hurling objects including bricks and rocks at each other. There were also live rounds fired at pro-democracy demonstrators – police say they’re still investigating the circumstances of the firing of guns during the melee.

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon also warned royalists groups to avoid mounting a counter-demonstration against the planned anti-government rally yesterday.

“Authorities will ensure there is no confrontation between the two rival groups. Police have been instructed to keep an eye on so-called third-party activists who might try to instigate violence.”

The young, tech-savvy anti-government protesters have shown their capacity to change their plans and locations at extremely short notice with the use of encrypted messaging that has thwarted attempts by Thai police to second-guess the plans of the protest groups.

A deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police said yesterday that neither the Ratsadon (People’s Movement) or the Free Youth group had approached police seeking permission to hold today’s rally.

“While the right to hold rallies was guaranteed by the constitution, demonstrators must adhere to the public assembly law by asking for police approval at least 24 hours in advance. Their rallies must also be peaceful and not infringe on others’ rights.”

Nearby Saint Gabriel’s College, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University and Suan Dusit University are closed today because the planned demonstration and roads around the CPB will be closed to traffic. Classes will resume tomorrow.

According to the Bangkok Post, a new group, Siam Land, announced yesterday that they will mount a counter rally at the CPB to “stop the Free Youth protesters from going there”.

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