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Government calls for more troops in Bangkok as crisis heats up

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Government calls for more troops in Bangkok as crisis heats up
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thailand’s government is to ask the army to deploy more troops in the capital, Bangkok, as fears mount that the country’s lengthy political crisis could move into a more violent phase.

Surapong Tovichakchaikul, a deputy prime minister, voiced concern on Friday about the potential for clashes between pro- and anti-government groups if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is ousted in May as a result of legal cases brought against her.

Yingluck, who has faced six months of street protests aimed at forcing her out, has been charged with abuse of power for her transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011, which opponents say was done for personal and party political reasons. If found guilty, she may have to step down.

“There are important legal cases coming up next month and the red shirts will rally,” said Surapong, who heads the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order that coordinates the state’s handling of the protests.

The “red shirts” are supporters of the Shinawatras and Yingluck’s government and they have vowed to resist any bid to force Yingluck from office, by either the anti-government protesters or the courts.

“We are worried there will be violence and clashes between the protesters and the red shirts, which is why we must increase the presence of troops to protect security,” he told reporters.

A February 2 election that Yingluck looked set to win was disrupted by the protesters, who stopped candidates from registering and blocked polling stations.

As a result, a court nullified the election in March and the Election Commission has yet to set a new date.

Yingluck’s brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, or his loyalists have won every election since 2001. He lives abroad to avoid a jail term for graft he says was politically motivated but is widely seen as the guiding hand behind his sister’s government.

Weeks of political upheaval have hit tourism and business confidence and left Thailand without a properly functioning government.

CALL FOR DIALOGUE

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also warned of an escalation in violence next month and offered to help kick-start dialogue between the different parties and groups involved in the protest.

“I think there are many people who want to see common ground emerging. My intention this week is to say that: isn’t it time we all accept the reality that neither side can get its way, and even if it did, it couldn’t bring long-lasting stability,” he said in an interview.

In a message posted on YouTube, he added that upcoming court verdicts would not solve the problem either, nor would any intervention by Thailand’s coup-prone army.

“The courts cannot tell us how the country will move forward in a manner that all sides will accept,” Abhisit said. “And I don’t believe that a coup, by whoever, or military intervention, will bring peace back to the country.”

Amongst the charges Yingluck faces is one of dereliction of duty for overseeing a financially ruinous state rice-buying scheme that has left hundreds of thousands of farmers unpaid.

Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has yet to respond to Abhisit’s invitation to talk but Yingluck welcomed the idea.

“At least Abhisit agrees with elections and the need to speak to each other. This is a good beginning,” Yingluck told reporters.

“If the opposition creates a path to find a way out then this is our chance to walk together.”

Suthep was a deputy prime minister in the government led by Abhisit until 2011. He resigned from their Democrat Party to lead the street movement and the Democrats boycotted the election in February, backing Suthep’s call for electoral reform.

Surapong said Abhisit had to convince his former deputy to give up his anti-government campaign on the streets.

“Abhisit must talk to Suthep and ask him to stop his protest and Abhisit must commit to elections,” Surapong said. “If he can do this then the government is ready to talk to him”

“But he must not be two-faced.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Former party-list MP candidate convicted of drug smuggling, sentenced to 50 years in prison

Caitlin Ashworth

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Former party-list MP candidate convicted of drug smuggling, sentenced to 50 years in prison | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A former party-list MP candidate is sentenced to 50 years in prison for smuggling crystal methamphetamine. Suban Mahachanon was on the MP candidate list for Seri Ruam Thai Party in the March 2019 election, but his bid was unsuccessful. Just a few months later, he arrested for drug trafficking a large amount of methamphetamine into the Philippines.

Suban was busted when a fire broke out at Chon Buri’s Laem Chabang sea port, damagin shipping containers at the port. Police inspected the scene after the fire and found a container rented under Suban’s name was carrying 985 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in Emperor brand tea packages. The shipping container also had boxes of shoes and bags of chopsticks, all ready to be shipped out to the Philippines.

Police also arrested 3 other men involved in trafficking the methamphetamine. Along with sentencing Suban to 50 years in prison, the Criminal Court also sentenced 2 Chinese nationals, 25 year old Huang Guoxiong and 45 year old Zhou Qingchu, to life in prison and a Thai man, 62 year old Joi Sae Fong, to 50 years in prison.

At first, the Court sentenced the 2 Chinese men to death, but it was lowered to life in prison. The Bangkok Post says the 2 men were responsible for concealing the drugs and loading the container. The Thai man Joi, also rented the container under his name with Suban. Joi and Suban were initially sentenced to life in prison. Their sentences were reduced to 50 years in prison.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Rumours of amnesty extension, 22 new Covid cases | September 28

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Rumours of amnesty extension, 22 new Covid cases | September 28 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news and updates from around Thailand on The Thaiger and on Youtube at Thaiger TV.

22 new cases of Covid-19 detected in Thailand

Out of nowhere, the Thai government’s CCSA has reported 22 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours this morning, raising the country’s total of infections to 3,545.

22 cases is the largest number of daily cases announced in a 24 hour period since April 5 this year when Thailand was emerging from its first wave.

16 of the new cases have come from imported cases, and became apparent whilst they were in quarantine during routine tests. The people have arrived from South Sudan, 4 people from India, 1 from Pakistan and 1 from the Philippines.

Thai doctor warns about short-cuts in quarantine

Meanwhile, a doctor from the Faculty of Medicine at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University says reducing the quarantine period for foreign tourists would be inviting disaster.

Dr. Thira Woratanarat made his statement after a suggestion from the Tourism and Sports Minister that quarantine could be halved if all goes well when Thailand re-opens its borders to a limited number of foreign tourists.

“In Thailand, if we decide to follow the proposal to reduce the quarantine time to 7 days, it would be an invitation to disaster.”

Rumours of a new visa amnesty, up to October 31

Thai Immigration offices have been flooded with foreigners trying to find a last minute solution to stay in the country and figure their situation out before the end of the visa amnesty… September 26, last Saturday.

The end of the amnesty, allowing visitors with lapsed visas to remain in the country, put many in a difficult situation, especially after a warning from the government the people could face fines and jail time for overstaying. But foreigners could have 1 more month to figure it out.

The news will come as a massive annoyance to those who went through the hoops last week to meet the deadline, although many thousands simply failed to get an appointment or satisfy the extension requirements, or simply had no flights to leave the country.

The government estimated around 150,000 foreigners were living in the country on amnesty.

Now there’s an “unofficial” letter, on official Thai government letterhead, floating around, claiming that the visa amnesty will be extended until October 31. It’s said the letter is waiting to be signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha which would then be published in the Royal Gazette. The letter title translates loosely as “extension for foreigners staying in Thailand”.

Meanwhile, The Phuket News is reporting that their local immigration office plans to start charging people with overstays from tomorrow.

There’s still a lot of confusion over the finish, or not, of the visa amnesty. We will bring you all the latest details, as soon as they come to hand, at thethaiger.com

“Boss” commission chief says Thai justice system in need of reform

Former National Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Vicha Mahakun, who led the recent inquiry into the handling of the case against Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, says Thailand’s justice system is in need of reform.

The Red Bull heir and grandson of co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, “Boss”, stood accused in a 2012 hit-and-run case that caused the death of a 47 year old Bangkok police officer who was hit by Boss’s Ferrari and dragged over 100 metres, before the car fled the scene.

Boss was never brought to justice and is believed to be living outside Thailand, having managed to flee the Kingdom in 2017. Now, the chairman of the investigating panel says the whole Boss fiasco proves that Thailand’s legal system needs to be reformed. He says the decision to drop all charges in the case clearly came about as a result of systemic corruption in the ranks of Thailand’s police and judicial departments.

“Why was the case, that should have been closed within a year, delayed for 8 years? There’s a legal proverb ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. An attempt to delay it gives a clue.”

1,202 gambling websites to be blocked in Thailand

Thailand is cracking down on online gambling websites. Internet providers will have 15 days to block 1,202 gambling websites before charges are pressed for violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

Although gambling is technically illegal in Thailand, underground and online gambling thrives in pockets of the country. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry was ordered by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to crack down on illegal online gambling. The PM ordered the ministry to block the hundreds of gambling websites within the next 15 days. The ministry has requested 1,202 court warrants citing Computer Crime Act violations.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission is collaborating with the ministry to block access to the gambling websites. The strict order is aimed at keeping teenagers away from online gambling.

More rain fronts on the way around Thailand today and tomorrow

The Thailand Meteorological Department is forecasting more isolated heavy rain over many parts of the country over the next few days.

Last night there were heavy rains and flooding in parts of inner city Bangkok. Cars were stuck in knee-deep water and footpaths were inundated in several inner city suburbs, including Phra Khanong. Phuket also had a rough night of high winds and rain. For most of Thailand, the most rainfall is accumulated in September and October making them the wettest months. We have a special story about Thailand’s monsoon… the link is under here in the description.

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Crime

Teenagers allegedly fired guns into the air, stray bullet kills 16 year old girl

Caitlin Ashworth

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Teenagers allegedly fired guns into the air, stray bullet kills 16 year old girl | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

A 19 year old man faces charges of intent to murder for allegedly shooting and killing a teenage girl. The man told police he shot the gun in the sky and did not intend to harm anyone. The stray bullet went through the girl’s heart and also injured her friend.

16 year old Nutthicha Thanthaisong was riding home on a motorcycle from an event in the Isaan province Buriram while a group of teenagers were allegedly firing off guns. A bullet hit her back and exited through her heart, killing her. Her 19 year old friend driving the motorcycle was also injured by the bullet. Nation Thailand says he is being treated, but did not report on the details of his injury.

Police questioned 19 year old Natthakit Boonluea after receiving reports from 6 of the man’s friends saying he shot the teenage girl. Natthakit told police he shot the gun in the sky and did not aim it at the girl.

Police say they believe more people were shooting off guns and plan to question around 50 people that may have been involved in the shooting.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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