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Govt denies secret prisons, tightens security at US Embassy

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Govt denies secret prisons, tightens security at US Embassy
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Government figures yesterday denied the existence of secret prisons or the torture of suspected foreign terrorists here while being sceptical of a security alert issued by the US Embassy in Thailand.

They rejected aspersions cast on Thailand after a recent report of the US Senate on the Central Intelligence Agency’s harsh interrogation program against terrorism suspects.

“A secret prison has not existed here and there are no reports of torture in Thailand. No Thai agencies have carried out such operations,” Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said. “There have never been cases of bringing in these sorts of prisoners. We have never conducted any illegal activities with the US.”

Suwaphan, a former director of the National Intelligence Agency, said he did not see Thailand being mentioned anywhere in the report. “The incidents mentioned in the report took place many years ago Anyway, I can assure [you] there are no secret prisons or torture in Thailand.”

He said the authorities would have to heighten security measures after reports that the US Embassy here had stepped up security and warned American citizens of possible terrorist attacks. “Thailand has no information about threats but we will not take risks.”

Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda affirmed that no secret prisons had existed in Thailand.

“The Army was unaware of any secret prison in Thailand when I served as the Army chief. At that time, I had given assurance that Thailand did not have any secret prisons,” Anupong said.

Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Worapong Sanganetra said he had no information regarding secret prisons or torture of suspected terrorists in Thailand.

He also said it was “normal” for the US authorities to warn their nationals. In response to the US warning of possible terrorist attacks in Thailand, the general said security personnel were carefully dealing with this matter.

The US Senate report mentions Thailand many times for its role in facilitating and sheltering terrorism suspects as well as helping US authorities capture some key suspects. Years ago, leaked reports indicated that the CIA had used facilities in Thailand for detention, harsh interrogation and torture, but the US Senate report, which was heavily censored in many parts, did not mention these clearly.

Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a former National Security Council chief who advises Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, said yesterday: “We have never allowed the US to use our space for detention or torture and there have never been any requests to do so.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, said one policy followed by every Thai government was that no foreigners would be allowed to operate any detention facility in Thailand.

A political-science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, Panitan said Thai governments in the past often denied the existence of secret prisons or detention places operated by the CIA for suspected terrorists. However, he noted that there was some classified intelligence that could not be accessed by state agencies.

Panitan said the security agencies had concluded that Thailand was not a target for terrorist attacks. However, regular monitoring would continue.

Pol General Jakthip Chaichinda, the deputy national police chief in charge of security affairs, yesterday said he had instructed the Metropolitan Police to provide increased security at the US Embassy here after the warning of possible terrorist attacks on Americans.

Meanwhile, the tourism industry said the US warning would have no impact on tourist arrivals to Thailand.

Association of Thai Travel Agents president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said there had been no cancellations by tourists scheduled to visit Thailand in November and December.

“The government has reacted quickly over the warning in order to give confidence to tourists,” he said.

Thai Hotels Association president Surapong Techaruvichit said hotels in the capital and all major tourist destinations were on high alert after the US warning.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Koh Samui

Raja salvage operation resumes, garbage truck, pick-up raised from seabed

Maya Taylor

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Raja salvage operation resumes, garbage truck, pick-up raised from seabed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

An operation to raise the sunken Raja 4 ferry and its cargo of vehicles from the seabed off Koh Samui has resumed, after being delayed due to bad weather. The ferry sank on the night of August 1 as it was transporting several garbage trucks from Samui to the mainland. The ferry had set sail in bad weather and capsized when its cargo of trucks shifted during the crossing. 5 of the 16 people on board died in the accident.

Having first been suspended briefly due to bad weather a couple of weeks ago, and more recently due to storm Noul, the salvage operation is once more underway, with workers removing an 18-wheel truck and a pick-up from the seabed.

Nation Thailand reports that operators MS Service have been using 2 cranes, installed on 2 boats, to carry out the salvage operation. Prior to being lifted, the garbage truck was covered in netting, to prevent any further refuse from entering the water. Small boats were also used to pick up any rubbish that managed to escape the netting.

The Ministry of National Resources and the Environment has previously threatened to sue the ferry company over the environmental fallout from the ferry’s capsize. The ferry itself is yet to be lifted from the seabed.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright

Caitlin Ashworth

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But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

A Thai producer says he came up with the superhero “Ultraman,” but he recently lost a battle with a Japanese special effects studio over the copyright. The Thailand Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the owner of the Thai Chaiyo Productions Company Limited who tried to claim copyright for the superhero films which date back to the 1960s.

Owner of the Thai production company, Sompo Saengduanchai, says the superhero comes from his imagination. He says he created Ultraman while on a fellowship in Japan studying film production. He claims he was involving the projects “Jumbo A”, “Ultraman 1 – Ultra Q,” “Ultraman 2,” “Ultraman Seven,” “Return of Ultraman,” “Ultraman Ace,” “Ultraman Taro,” “Jamborg Ace” and “Hanuman Meets Seven Superheroes.”

Chaiyo Productions Company Limited has been in a copyright war with the Japanese special effects studio Tsubaraya Productions Company Limited. The Appeals Court ruled in Tsubaraya’s favor, then Chaiyo appealed that decision. That appeal was just rejected by the Supreme Court Division for Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade.

The Japanese special effects studio is best known for the “Ultra” TV series. It was founded in 1963 by special effects producer Eiji Tsubaraya and the “Ultra” series first aired in 1966. His family ran the company until October 2007, when the family sold the company to advertising agency TYO Inc.

Sompo says he’s worried that the Supreme Court decision will have a negative affect on his movies. He says some are registered as national heritage cultural properties.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Politics

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Maya Taylor

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Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says former immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, shouldn’t assume his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office was unlawful. Surachate, known by the nickname “Big Joke” (given to him by Thai media) headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha last year.

It’s understood he is now planning to sue the PM, claiming that the lack of any investigation against him shows there were no grounds for the transfer. His lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says other officers transferred to the PM’s Office have since been re-instated, after being cleared of any wrongdoing. He insists his client deserves the same, pointing out that in the 1 year and 5 months since his transfer, there has been no investigation against him.

For his part, Deputy PM Wissanu says Surachate has the right to sue the PM if he so wishes but shouldn’t assume his transfer is similar to that of former National Security Council chief, Thawil Pliensri, who was transferred under former PM Ying­luck Shinawatra in 2011. The transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Bangkok Post reports that Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated, saying the PM’s Office should submit the issue for the PM’s consideration. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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