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Gen Prayuth voted to become next premier

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

NLA votes Gen Prayuth to become 29th premier
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Legislative Assembly yesterday voted unanimously for junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha to be the 29th prime minister of Thailand.

He was the sole candidate for the job.

Prayuth was widely tipped to become the next prime minister after staging the coup in May. Before the assembly meeting yesterday, the only questions that remained were whether he would win unanimous approval or whether there would be other candidates.

Of the 197 NLA members, 191 voted for Prayuth while NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai and assembly vice presidents Surachai Liengboonlertchai and Peerasak Porchit abstained.

Three members were reportedly on sick leave.

Prayuth did not attend the meeting as he was not required to, and did not need to reveal his vision for the country. Instead, he attended a ceremony commemorating the 64th anniversary at the 21st Infantry Regiment of the Queen’s Guard in Chon Buri province.

An army of journalists arrived at Parliament early yesterday morning and there were a large number of security officers.

Before the meeting started, NLA members lined up for a group photo at 9am in a noticeably lively atmosphere, as members had got to know one other better through previous meetings.

Voting began at around 10 am, with Pornpetch detailing the voting procedures.

NLA member Tuang Antachai nominated Prayuth for the prime minister’s post, and the military-dominated assembly rushed to raise their hands to approve the proposal.

Pornpetch had to remind them that they still had to indicate their support on the electronic voting system.

The voting process went smoothly as members seemed to have collectively made up their mind.

The assembly president said he expected to submit Prayuth’s name as the new prime minister to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement later yesterday.

The economy must take priority, say key figures
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Economic advancement and integration into the Asean community are the great challenges for the Prime Minister-elect General Prayuth Chan-ocha, as the country is on the edge of recession while the door to regional integration has already been opened, diplomatic and business figures have said.

They said economic matters must be the priority for Prayuth’s government since the economy had slowed since late last year when anti-government groups started the protests that ended with the coup on May 22.

“I think one of the priorities will be to manage the economy. With a stable Thai economy, the regional economy will also perform better,” an Asean diplomat told The Nation when asked for a reaction after the National Legislative Assembly yesterday voted for Prayuth to become prime minister.

“Hopefully the new government will continue to think about Thailand’s integration into Asean, and also about the larger regional strategic picture,” said the diplomat, on condition of anonymity.

Lyn Kok, president and chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank (Thai), said that Prayuth’s priority must be to restore the confidence of foreign investors. She said one way to do that was by pushing infrastructure projects that could attract foreign investment.

The prime minister-elect should also try to boost Thai competitiveness as it was facing more challenges from more competitors being driven by integration of the Asean Economic Community at the end of next year.

Kok said neighbouring countries were enhancing their competitiveness to deal with the AEC, so Thailand had to do the same.

Darren Buckley, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said foreign investors’ confidence in Thailand would not hurt by Prayuth becoming prime minister.

“The mix of the new Cabinet will be interesting since it is less obvious on what the set up is going to be, such as what is going to be the ratio of military personnel, and will there be a mixture of different political views within it,” he said.

Prayuth has not revealed his plan for the make up of the Cabinet. But it was reported that most ministers would come from the inner circle of the junta.

His deputies are tipped to become deputy prime ministers and ministers, taking care of key ministries.

Junta adviser Pridiyathorn Devakula is tipped to become a deputy prime minister overseeing economic matters while deputy junta chief Thanasak Patimaprakorn, a four-star general, could become foreign minister.

Stanley Kang, chair of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT), said foreign investors would be keeping an eye on the setting up of the new Cabinet and how it functioned.

Kang said everything seemed to be functional due to the respect that Prayuth had from the permanent secretaries and other government agencies. He was confident things would continue to run smoothly.

The JFCCT is due to meet with Prayuth in upcoming weeks to give its economic outlook for the next three to five years.

Sombat Kitjalaksana, managing director of Bangkok Metro Plc, said the junta had handled many challenges.

“I expect the rail system development, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the Prayuth government, will also be successful someday,” he said.

“Over the next 10 years, the country’s rail system will not be the same as it was in the past ten years. The rail system will be more systematic in terms of both the regulatory and business sphere.”

Business lobbies hail rise of Prayuth
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Business representatives say they are confident that the new prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will drive the country’s economic growth.

Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said yesterday that the junta chief was suitable for the position of prime minister and his new post would help speed up the National Council for Peace and Order’s national reform effort along with restoring foreign confidence in the country.

He said the appointment of the new PM would improve governance, boost investment, and support the recovery of the tourism industry, since Prayuth would be working with a new cabinet to continue with the national reform effort. He is also expected to implement measures to stimulate the economy as proposed by the private sector.

Vallop said the 2015 budget bill would be the top priority of the new cabinet and it should pass the second and third readings with ease, which should help stimulate the economy through the expected increase in investment.

Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman of the Saha Group, said he wanted the new government and prime minister to make exports a priority concern. The economy has not recovered yet and the new government should first promote a strong export sector and keep the currency more stable, albeit a bit weaker.

He said that at the time the junta seized power on May 22, the baht was trading at 32.9 against the US dollar. However, it has been getting st

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Thailand

British tourists come forward about being attacked on Koh Tao in 2013

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by Valeriy Ryasnyanskiy for Unsplash

Many continue to contend that Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, the 2 Burmese young men convicted for the 2014 murder of 2 tourists on Koh Tao’s Sairee Beach, are innocent. Now 2 tourists who were attacked on the same beach, just a year before the murder, are now coming forward to help prove that the conviction could have been unreliable.

In September 2014, the bodies of British tourists 23 year old Hannah Witheridge and 24 year old David Miller were found on the beach. Police say Hannah had been raped and David had been hit several times on the head with a garden hoe.

Zaw and Wai were arrested soon after the killings. Some say the investigation was accelerated in an effort to gain back tourist confidence and keep visitors coming to the island. Numerous activists, criminologists, and others have spoken out against the conviction, saying the evidence was bungled.

Just a year before, British tourists Sam Venning and Carla Bartel survived an attack on the same beach. Sam, who was 22 at the time, was talking to Carla, who was 20, on the beach when 2 men wearing V for Vendetta masks attacked them, hitting Sam in the head with a rock.

Sam and Carla came forward to Thai officials after the killings to help with the investigation, but say no one got back to them. Sam says he had emailed the Thai Embassy in London, but no one contacted him. Carla says she contacted the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office who then passed her on to the UK National Crime Agency. She was told that the information was sent to Thai police, but officers did not follow up with her.

SOURCE: Mirror.UK

 

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Phuket

Fishermen find space debris off the coast of Phuket

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Phuket Andaman News

Local fishermen found space debris, possibly from a satellite or space shuttle, on the seabed just 6 metres below the surface by Koh Ael in Phuket. At first, no one knew exactly what it was.

Specialists from a Navy explosive ordnance disposal unit were first called to look at the round, hollow metal object which was about 45 centimetres in diameter. 3rd Naval Area commander Vice Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet told reporters at a press conference that the team took photos of the object and found it appeared to be a rocket fuel tank, possibly used to launch a satellite or shuttle into space. He said it matched photos online.

Both the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, or GISTDA, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, agree that the object was most likely a fuel tank for a rocket.

Since the fuel tanks usually contain harmful chemicals like ammonia or hydrogen, divers examined the space debris to make sure there were no chemical leaks before bringing the object to shore and taken to the navy headquarters. The space debris will be taken to the GISTDA to be studied.

“If other objects similar to this one are found elsewhere, people should not touch them. They could contain hazardous chemicals. They should immediately inform Region 3 Thai-MECC or local officials.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand

UPDATE: 2 Americans and a Thai arrested over Bangkok kidnap attempt, Thai policeman involved | VIDEO

Tanutam Thawan

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Screenshot: THAICRIME

UPDATE:

Following up from the earlier story involving 2 Americans, a Thai, a Taiwanese businessman, and an Israeli security goon, we have the following update (original story below)…

Police have examined CCTV from the restaurant in Thong Lor where the Taiwanese businessman was kidnapped. It’s also been revealed that a “senior Thai policeman” was involved in the alleged abduction case. The abduction took place on March 28.

The meeting had been called to “resolve” some disagreements over a large purchase of rubber gloves that had gone wrong.

After arriving at a meeting at the L’Oliva restaurant in Sukhumvit Soi 26, Mr. Wen Yu Chung was manhandled, put in a headlock and dragged out of the premises. Daily News reports that a “lieutenant colonel” ranked Thai policeman was also captured on the CCTV supervising the events as they happened inside the restaurant. He is reported as being a former traffic policeman.

Mr. Chung was then held to ransom at the condo NT Court. Attempts were made to contact Mr Chung’s family and business associates to extract a ransom – allegedly 1 and 2 million baht – but they refused to pay.

The 3 men have been identified as 41 year old Jeremy Hughes Manchester, 52 year old Louis William Ziskin, both Americans, and Ekbodin Prasitnarit, Thai.

Mr Louis Ziskin has a somewhat chequered history with his story catalogued on Wikipedia. Summarised…

Ziskin was taken into custody in December 7, 2000 and charged over transactions from November 1999 to December 22, 1999. Ziskin was convicted of smuggling 700 pounds of ecstasy into Southern California via FedEx and other various shipping companies, the largest-ever US government seizure of the drug. There was another indictment a year later.

Following his incarceration, Ziskin lost a double jeopardy appeal for the second indictment. The US government settled all claims against Ziskin for a 188 month sentence and a US$9 million fine.

Daily News also reported a man ‘Mike’ who allegedly invited the policeman to be involved in the incident. Earlier this man was described as “Mr. Michael Greenberg, an Israeli operating a detective company”.

Here’s video showing the arrest of Mr. Ziskin…

EARLIER STORY:

Thai police have arrested 2 American citizens and a Thai for the alleged kidnap of a Taiwanese businessman for ransom. 5 other arrest warrants are also waiting to be executed over the incident. Police allege a “business conflict” over the purchase of plastic ‘nitrile’ gloves as the motive.

The 3 men have been identified as 41 year old Jeremy Hughes Manchester, 52 year old Louis William Ziskin, both Americans, and Ekbodin Prasitnarit, Thai. All 3 have denied the charges including illegal assembly, attempted murder, abduction for ransom and extortion. They were formally charged at the Thong Lor police.

According to Bangkok Post, in late 2020 Mr Ziskin appointed the Collection Company to negotiate the purchase of a large quantity of plastic gloves with the Paddy The Room Trading Company.

Police allege that there was an ongoing conflict between the two sides which was responsible for Mr Ziskin accumulating 93 million baht in damages.. So, according to police, Mr Ziskin hired Mr. Michael Greenberg, an Israeli operating a detective company in Thailand to negotiate and retrieve the losses.

Police allege that Mr Greenberg hired Thai and foreign collaborators to plan an abduction as leverage in the retrieval of their losses. They contacted a 60 year old Taiwanese man from the Collection Company in Thailand to procure a supply of rubber gloves from Paddy The Room Trading Company.

They made an appointment to meet Wen Yu Chung at a restaurant in Bangkok’s in Bangkok’s Tong Lor are off Sukhumvit Road on March 28. Police allege that Mr Greenberg and hired associates arrived, handcuffed the Taiwanese businessman and then took him to the NT Place, 200 metres further south down the same Soi, Sukhumvit 36.

They then called Mr Chung’s boss demanding US$2 million, and then called the man’s family demanding another US$1 million. Both contacted police and did nothing to accede to the demands for ransom..

The abductors then headed to a restaurant in Soi 24, with Mr. Chung, eventually letting him go. The Taiwanese man went, first to hospital, then to Thong Lor police station to relate his story. Eventually 8 arrest warrants were issued over the alleged abduction. Soon after police arrested Mr Manchester, Mr Ziskin and Mr Ekbodin.

We’ll continue to follow this story.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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