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The big three. 2018 elections for Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Tanutam Thawan

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The big three. 2018 elections for Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia. | The Thaiger
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In 2018 there will be three elections in our immediate region – the much-predicted (and confirmed by the Thai PM) Thai election, another in Cambodia and one in Malaysia. All have their very local versions of democracy which will shape the outcomes. All are vital tests for the region’s fragile democracies.

Cambodia

Cambodia’s national elections are scheduled for July 29. Thirty-five political parties are officially registered, according to Cambodia’s interior ministry. However, the country’s top court dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party last year. That party’s leader, Kem Sokha, was arrested last September on charges of treason. He remains in detention.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen recently marked an astonishing 33 years in power. Cambodia’s volatile political situation has contributed to the absence of more than one million eligible voters in the registration process. According to the official data, only 536,023 new voters have registered out of 1.6 million estimated new voters. Overall a total 8.3 million people have signed up to vote.

Malaysia

In Malaysia, where Najib Razak has been Prime Minister since 2009, preparations and early lobbying are underway for elections to be held on or before 24 August. Najib is seeking to recapture the ruling coalition’s long-held two-thirds majority. Najib has faced strong opposition particularly because of corruption allegations over the 1MDB scandal.

One of his harshest critics is Najib’s one-time mentor and former PM, the feisty 92 year old Mahathir Mohamad who was a past PM of Malaysia from 1981 – 2003. Mahathir, who has been outspoken in his criticism of Najib, said last week that he would run as the opposition’s candidate in the upcoming election. Surely that would make him one of the region’s oldest candidates.

Malaysian politics has been rocked over the last decade by racial and religious issues blending with politics to cloud it’s economic growth.

Thailand

Here at home, where the military has been in power since 2014, Thais are meant to be heading to the polls in November (according to the Government’s Roadmap to Democracy) this year after repeated delays. The junta has repeatedly delayed the promised election, citing concerns such as changes to the constitution and security issues.

The NCPO also had to manage a transition in the Monarchy following to the death of the much-revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a year of official mourning and the staging of the elaborate Royal Cremation last October. The Thai military has seized power 12 times since 1932, but last year it pledged to help conduct free and fair elections and not to stage another coup after the next election.

Some critics say that the Junta has prepared a new constitution and made legal changes that will ensure that it still has its hands firmly on the reigns of power for at least the next 20 years. But supporters point to the peace in the nation, the boom in tourism and relatively stable economic growth. Around 50 million people are eligible to vote in the Thai elections.

The big three. 2018 elections for Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia. | News by The Thaiger

No matter what the outcomes in these three important regional elections it leaves South East Asia with its own curious brand of democracies and a handful of capitalist-flavoured communist dictatorships. And then there’s Singapore but that Government deserves its own article on another day.

Welcome to the big three elections. Remember, vote early and vote often!

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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Thailand

Thailand News Today – Friday, May 29

Tanutam Thawan

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Thailand News Today – Friday, May 29 | The Thaiger

Thailand Covid-19 figures

11 new cases of Covid-19 virus in Thailand, same as yesterday. Of the number, all were reported as imported cases coming from Kuwait.

All were Thai nationals returning from overseas and have been placed into a mandatory 14 day state quarantine. For the 4th day in a row, Thailand has announced zero locally transmitted cases.

Radio station gunman confesses, faces murder charges, death penalty

The gunman who allegedly shot 3 of his coworkers at a public radio station is facing murder charges and the death penalty if convicted.

The 59 year old was an electrician and TX technician at the station. He apparently lashed out after problems with his coworkers at the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand in the northern Phitsanulok province. Amongst those killed were the station manager and fellow technicians at the station. Police say he brought two guns to the station to commit the crime.

Pattaya curfew breaker drowns

A 41 year old Thai man in Pattaya has drowned, apparently attempting to avoid arrest for breaking Thailand’s national curfew.

He was pronounced dead after being found by local fishermen floating off the shore of Pattaya Beach yesterday. Pattaya City Police were notified of the incident near the Bali Hai Pier around noon.

A relative told police that the went out at about at 3am for squid fishing, knowing that he was breaking the curfew. It’s been speculated that he was afraid of being arrested and fined, so he jumped into the water to hide and subsequently drowned.

Haunted hospital wheelchair. Ghost? Or the wind?

An empty wheelchair at an Udon Thani Thailand hospital, moving all by itself, has some locals claiming it could be a mischievous ghost.

Now, the hospital is even planning a prayer event to honour the wheelchair’s deceased owner to put the spirit at peace.

Footage of the supposedly haunted wheelchair has done the rounds on the internet. Some of the hospital staff believe it was the ghost of its former owner who died at the hospital, moving the wheelchair around.

Other, more sceptical viewers, say it might have been the wind. Meanwhile a Buddhist ceremony is being organised and the wheelchair’s brakes checked.

Thai Airways can’t refund 24 billion baht in unused tickets

Thai Airways’ recent declaration of bankruptcy and debt rehabilitation has left many holders of unused tickets up in the air.

The carrier grounded its fleet in early April, and now claims that they’re unable to refund tickets purchased since. The value of these tickets is estimated to be around 24 billion baht.

But the airline does promises to return the money within 6 months. Ticket holders may also change the dates of flights as well without penalty fees.

The national carrier has announced on its website that it will resume operations in July, as borders slowly begin to reopen and passengers start returning. But the CAAT has the borders closed to international flights until at least the end of June and the arrangements for foreign flights into Thailand after that time are yet to be announced.

First female doctor in Thailand celebrated by Google

If you do any search on Google today you’ll see a graphic of a doctor holding a baby. The image is of Thailand’s first female doctor, Margaret Lin Xavier, and today marks her 122nd birthday.

Xavier was an expert in obstetrics and gynaecology. She opened a private clinic with her sister who was a pharmacist. Many times she would treat women for free who couldn’t afford care as well as sex workers.

She studied over seas but moved back to Thailand in 1924 when she was 26 years old and started working as an obstetrician at the Thai Red Cross and Chulalongkorn Hospital. She was the first Thai woman to earn a medical degree and practice in the country.

Although she died in 1932 due to encephalitis, her work opened the door for women in the medical field.

The Thaiger salutes this pioneer in Thai obstetrics and gynaecology, Margaret Lin Xavier.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid task force orders strict hygiene measures for Bangkok construction sites

Maya Taylor

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Covid task force orders strict hygiene measures for Bangkok construction sites | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 123rf.com

The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority has been ordered to implement tough hygiene and safety measures at construction sites in the capital, to prevent any resurgence of the Covid-19 virus. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration says the city must take rigorous steps to mitigate the risk of workers contracting and spreading the virus.

A report in Nation Thailand says city officials are fully prepared to comply with the order, with BMA permanent secretary Silapasuay Raweesangsoon saying instructions on the strict hygiene protocols have already been communicated to all district offices.

“Since April, BMA has ordered all district offices to employ measures at construction sites to prevent the outbreak, which include screening of personnel before entering the area, providing alcohol gel and face masks, cleaning the areas after work, separating personal items and maintaining social distancing practice.”

“To comply with the CCSA, the BMA has sent health officials to perform aggressive tests on construction workers that are at high-risk, like those who come from neighbouring countries or provinces.”

Her statement comes as central Thailand prepares for the return of thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar in the coming month. The government has already said employers are responsible for quarantining their workers for the required 14 days, as well as providing them with masks and hand sanitiser, and carrying out regular health checks.

Covid task force orders strict hygiene measures for Bangkok construction sites | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Silapasuay says thousands of construction workers in Bangkok have already been tested for the virus. Bosses at construction sites are also asked to check the health of their employees regularly, both at their workplace and their accommodation.

“We have already tested 49,728 workers, while we aim to increase this number further to ensure safety at all construction sites in Bangkok.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Crime

Taxi driver attacked and stabbed after accident in Bangkok

Caitlin Ashworth

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Taxi driver attacked and stabbed after accident in Bangkok | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Amarin TV

A motorbike driver attacked a taxi driver on Wednesday this week after an accident by taking off his helmet and repeatedly hitting the driver with it before stabbing him with a screwdriver.

A witness says the motorbike cut in front of the taxi on Phet Kasem Road, or Highway 4, in Bangkok, but the taxi couldn’t stop in time and ran into the motorbike, Thai media reports. When the taxi driver stepped out to look at the damage, the motorbike driver took off his helmet and attacked him. Then he took out a screwdriver and stabbed the taxi driver. When people ran up to help, the motorbike driver hopped on his bike and drove off.

The witness took photos of the accident and shared it on Facebook. Yesterday, the motorbike driver turned himself into the Phet Kasem Police and was charged with reckless driving and causing physical and mental harm.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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