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EC defends its proposals to overhaul political system

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

EC defends its proposals to overhaul political system
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Election Commission (EC) yesterday denied that its reform plan put to the National Council for Peace and Order last week came at the expense of politicians, saying its intentions were above-board – to make polls free and fair and allow only good people to serve the public.

“We did not suggest the proposal by following someone’s order. We don’t want to please anyone in particular. We just want to give good solutions to the junta, which asked us for our opinion,” said EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn.

The EC’s recommended measures have been heavy criticised, especially by politicians, with some claim they restrict MPs’ rights.

But its proposals may be just a small part of a large number made by other agencies to the junta under its request, he said.

“It may be just one of the 100 replies [the junta received],” he said, adding that it was too early to say if any of them would be adopted.

The proposals were submitted to Surasak Kanjanarat, permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry, who heads the NCPO’s reform panel.

Among the more controversial parts was one limiting members of parliament to two consecutive four-year terms.

Somchai said he did not make the proposal or believe such measures could really prevent political families from extending their influence, as spouses, children and relatives of ex-politicians could always replace them as proxies.

The suggestion to have half of MPs coming from the party-list system would boost the chance of small parties competing with bigger parties and reorient all parties towards vying more on policies, he said.

All senators should be appointed, as electing them “won’t do any good”, he said.

“The process of obtaining them would be like that of MPs and we would end up creating a fiefdom of spouses of MPs and senators,” he said.

However, the selection process for the Upper House should be made more fair, rigorous, inclusive and representative than the existing one where a panel of seven people has the final say.

Somchai also threw his weight behind an idea to try to stop political parties from campaigning on specific monetary promises or populist policies that voters will enjoy in return for their votes.

Pheu Thai Party’s policy of raising the minimum wage to Bt300 per day was an example. Such policies may not be sustainable and such ploys could see parties competing on populist policies for votes. While political parties should have the right to espouse concrete policies, they should not specify fiscal figures, he said.

On the bigger picture, politicians were to blame for the coup, he said, as they were unwilling to compromise and this eventually led to the power seizure on May 22.

“Politicians didn’t try to protect democracy and that’s why the situation is like this. They should have learnt to take some steps back and be flexible. If [the then ruling Pheu Thai Party] had accepted [the EC’s proposal to defer the election], the situation today wouldn’t be like this.”

But protracted political division was still festering and only temporarily submerged by the NCPO.

“It’s as if it’s under the water,” he said of the dormant political rift.

Key points in Election Commission reform proposals:

Electoral system: A mixed system of both constituency-based and party-list MPs should be maintained. The number of constituency-based MPs, however, should be reduced to the same number of party-list MPs. As a result, each constituency should still have one MP but its size will be bigger.

Senate: Appointed only.

MPs: Their term should be limited to two consecutive four-year terms. Their parents, children, and spouses should be banned from running in the same election term. People convicted of election fraud, drug offences, and lese majeste should be banned from running in an election.

Cabinet: Prime ministers and Cabinet members who have stepped down or lost their posts should not serve as caretakers, with permanent secretaries taking over.

Election Commission: The EC should be solely responsible for scheduling an election date without requiring approval from the PM..

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand News Today | STV updates, fuel tanker explodes, 19 dead in Viet typhoon | October 29

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Thailand News Today | STV updates, fuel tanker explodes, 19 dead in Viet typhoon | October 29 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news, in English. Everything you need to know in around 5 minutes. Keep up to date on The Thaiger.

“Pattaya Model” to focus on Special Tourist Visa visitors from China and Russia

Firstly the Phuket Model, now the Pattaya Model as the eastern seaboard city wants to cash in on the new Special Tourist Visa scheme to help boost the local economy.

City officials say they’ll focus on drawing in Chinese and Russian tourists on the new long stay visa. The city mayor says that last year, there were 3 million Chinese tourists visiting Pattaya, followed by Russian tourists with 1.1 million.

Potential travellers would be from cities in Russia and China that are considered to be at a low risk for Covid-19. The mayor mentioned St. Petersburg in Russia and Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen in China.

Along with accommodating tourists under the Special Tourist Visa, the mayor says they are planning for other travellers that are approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The nearest international airport to Pattaya, U-Tapao, remains closed to international traffic.

Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa

A special tourist visa updates and it seems the Thai government is opening up categories that would be able to apply for the new STV.

Now cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to dock in Thailand and visitors will be allowed disembark under the STV. The new measure will be made official in the next 30 days.

Captains, crew and passengers travelling from countries considered at low risk will be able to dock in Thailand and enter the country, of course after doing their 14 day quarantine and all the other STV paperwork.

Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram

A fuel tanker has exploded after a collision with a trailer truck, causing both vehicles to be engulfed in flames in a series of explosions in Buri Ram, north east Thailand.

Fuel from the 40,000-litre tank spilled out onto the road, spreading about 1 kilometre to nearby homes and into the sewers. 20 cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks parked along the road were damaged or destroyed in the conflagration. Many people were injured, currently we don’t don’t have the latest toll.

The fuel tanker truck and the trailer truck collided on Highway 24. The drivers were able to flee before the first explosion.

50 fire engines responded to the fire and the road was closed off for a radius of 5 kilometres. It took firefighters more than 4 hours to extinguish the fire.

Court bans Thailand’s first transgender MP over alleged media interests

An MP from the Move Forward Party, one of the opposition parties, has been banned and could face jail time after the Constitutional Court found the MP guilty of violating a law prohibiting media shareholdings for MPs.

57 other MPs were acquitted over the same offence.

Tanwarin is Thailand’s first ever openly transgender MP in the House of Representatives and an advocate for LGBTQ rights. The MP is also a former actor and filmmaker. The Court looked into lists of shareholders and found “irregularities,” saying information had been fabricated to make it appear that she wasn’t associated with the media companies.

The Election Commission may also decide to press charges on Tanwarin. If the commission finds her guilty of breaking the law on elections, the MP could face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a 20,000 baht fine and a ban from taking part in elections for 20 years.

Thanathorn and 4 others charged over Pathumwan flash rally

Meanwhile, the Pathumwan Municipal Court has accepted for trial the prosecutors’ indictment of Thanathorn, the former Future Forward leader, and four others relating to a flash protest rally on the Pathumwan skywalk last year.

All five were present at the court today. The indictment concerns their rally on the elevated BTS walkway at Pathumwan intersection on December 14 last year.

Prosecutors charged them with organising the rally without giving prior notice, organising a rally that affected train services, organising a rally that blocked people from using a public place, using loudspeakers without permission, rallying within a 150 metre radius of a palace, and resisting officials’ orders to stop the rally.

19 dead, 40 injured, many missing in Vietnam typhoon

Vietnam deployed soldiers and heavy machinery to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the region in decades.

Landslides, which hit remote areas in the central province of Quang Nam on Wednesday, killed at least 13. Rescue efforts are being hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm.

The Vietnamese government said Typhoon Molave had left millions of people without electricity and damaged at least 56,000 houses.

26 fishermen also remain missing after their boats sank when trying to return to shore on Tuesday. Molave is moving westward through Laos now and will dump rain in northeastern Thailand into the weekend.

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Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Cruise ships and yachts to dock in Thailand, visitors to enter on Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Josiah Weiss

Cruise ships and yachts will be allowed to dock in Thailand and visitors will be allowed disembark under the Special Tourist Visa. The new measure hasn’t been made official yet, but it will go into effect 30 days after it’s published in the Royal Gazette.

The Cabinet approved the new guidelines yesterday which allows captains, crew and passengers travelling from countries considered at low risk for spreading Covid-19 to dock in Thailand and enter the country, according to deputy government spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul.

Visitors must go through a 14 day quarantine. Those on yachts will quarantine onboard before stepping onto Thai soil, according to the Bangkok Post. They must also have Covid-19 health insurance of $100,000 USD as well as local health and accident insurance. Proof of advance payment for anchoring the liner will also have to be provided.

The Special Tourist Visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to around 9 months. So far, only 2 flights of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa have arrived after a 7 month ban on international tourists.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram

Caitlin Ashworth

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on

Fuel tanker explodes after collision in Buri Ram | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

A fuel tanker has exploded after a collision with a trailer truck, causing both vehicles to be engulfed in flames in a series of explosions. Fuel from the 40,000-litre tank spilled out onto the road, spreading about 1 kilometre to nearby homes and into the sewers. People trying to douse the spreading flames found they were just pushing the flaming fuel further down the road, 20 cars, motorcycles and tuk tuks parked along the road were damaged or destroyed in the fire. Many people were injured, but there is no exact count.

The fuel tanker truck and the trailer truck collided on Highway 24 in the Isaan province Buri Ram. The drivers were able to flee before the first explosion. There were a series of explosions as the fuel spread and nearby residents fled their homes. People tried to put the flames out with tap water, but fire continued to spread.

50 fire engines responded to the fire and the road was closed off for a radius of 5 kilometres. It took firefighters more than 4 hours to extinguish the fire. The oil company was called to safely unload 30,000 litres of fuel that was left in the tanker.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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