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21-gun salute for Their Majesties; Fresh spate of Deep South violence; Thailand not safe from economic crisis



– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

21-gun salute for Their Majesties
The Nation/Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Royal Thai Navy welcomed Their Majesties the King and Queen to Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan province with a 21-gun salute yesterday.

The salute, each round five seconds apart, was fired from HTMS Pin Klao just about a kilometer off the coast, the ship’s captain Commander Prasobchai Yoosamran said, adding that this was the biggest honour for him and a proud moment for his crew.

Their Majesties reportedly watched the gun salute from inside Klai Kangwon Palace, where they arrived yesterday for an extended break.

After the salute was completed, the vessel returned to its docking station near the Piam Suk pavilion inside the palace compound to continue with its duties as guard of honour. HTMS Pin Klao, which is officially the royal gun-salute ship, performed 10 drills before yesterday’s official ceremony, Cdr Prasobchai said.

‘People’s Army’ to launch its rally against govt’s amnesty bill on Sunday
The Nation/Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: After seven months of planning in secret, the People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime will begin its protest against the government-sponsored amnesty bill by gathering outside the Parliament compound tomorrow, when the bill is due for deliberation.

Without any new core leaders declaring their role and responsibility in the campaign, guards and leaders at the intermediate level will usher anti-Pheu Thai protesters to the gathering outside the Parliament and Government House compounds. Protesters coming from outside Bangkok will have their own leaders.

A confrontation and possible forced entry into both compounds is expected.

Both compounds are being guarded by police units authorised to exercise force under the Internal Security Act.

“There is a great chance of confrontation leading to violent clashes,” a source said.

The movement’s leadership might switch the protest venue from these two locations to the residence of key political figures such as Pheu Thai Party MPs or members of the Shinawatra family.

A similar tactic was used by red-shirt protesters when they surrounded the home of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and sprayed it with blood.

This anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movement was developed from a campaign launched late last year by Pitak Siam, led by retired Army General Boonlert Kaewprasit.

Pitak Siam’s one-day protest reportedly failed because of strong and well-organised police resistance.

The plan for this rally has been kept secret to reduce the chance of the government preparing in advance.

Arson and explosions hit deep south
The Nation/Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Violence and chaos hit deep southern provinces Friday, with a corporal killed in Yala and arson attacks in Yala, Pattani and Songkhla.

Nuttapong Longkaew, chief of a ranger unit, died in a roadside bombing. The blast killed him instantly and deafened seven others soldiers.

Insurgents also launched arson attacks at a total of 13 locations at about 3am on Friday.

Most of the targeted sites were factories handling rubber, plastic, cement and processed woods. Yala’s Muang district was the hardest hit; six sites were attacked.

Thitikorn Wiriyasathien, owner of rubber company, estimated that the damage was around 100 million baht.

Kingdom ‘not safe’ from crisis
The Nation/Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Slow growth could lead to an economic crisis, said a former finance minister, while the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) pointed to the need for economic restructuring for sustainable growth.

Speaking at an academic seminar held by the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) yesterday, former finance minister Thanong Bidaya said that the Thai economy currently had low unemployment, low economic expansion and low inflation, unlike the situation when the country last confronted an economic crisis. However, this did not mean the country was free of risk.

During the economic crisis in 1997, Thailand witnessed high borrowings, high external debts, high state expenditure and high economic growth.

If the economic growth is too low, state revenue will be low and the manufacturing sector will have less expansion, he said.

Mr Thanong said Thailand, with low export growth, could see its gross domestic product expand by less than 4 per cent this year, while TDRI chairman Kosit Panpiemras expected the economy hit the 4-per-cent target.

Mr Thanong said: “The Ministry of Finance has to keep an eye on [economic] signs and inform the government to prevent a crisis. Certainly, the state expenditures and an economic restructuring could help.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors


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