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Impeachment good for reconciliation, says anti-graft agency

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Impeachment good for reconciliation, says anti-graft agency
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday insisted that impeachment of politicians perceived as “enemies of the country” would promote, rather than undermine, national reconciliation.

“Impeachment of wrongdoers who are the enemies of the country will promote reconciliation eventually. It’s better than dropping the case or doing nothing,” said Wicha Mahakhun, who represented the NACC at the inquiry session of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

The NACC realises the importance of reconciliation, but believes it should abide by the moral code and the rule of law, he said, adding it would pursue the impeachment cases as far as possible so that the cause of justice is served, he said.

He was reacting to questions from NLA members on whether pursuing the cases would affect national reconciliation or reforms.

The assembly posed queries to the NACC, the accuser, and former Parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranon and his former deputy Nikom Wairatpanij, who have been accused of violating the 2007 Constitution by trying to push through an amendment to change the Senate’s make-up.

Somsak, who failed to show up for his opening statement last week, attended the meeting yesterday and told the NLA that the Constitutional Court’s ruling that he had violated the charter by trying to amend the composition of the Senate was wrong.

“I did nothing wrong. My actions do not warrant impeachment, which needs an act of intentional wrongdoing [to be punished],” he insisted before the NLA members.

“I come here today to seek justice. If you [the NLA] cannot give me [justice], I don’t know where to find it,” he said.

Nikom said during questioning that the constitutional amendment bill was aimed at “giving democratic power back to the people” and that he had done nothing in violation of the charter.

“The amendment that required all senators to be elected would have benefited the people directly. I don’t personally benefit from it. This could be considered as giving democratic power back to the people, for them to elect all of their senators,” he said.

He also disputed the accusation that as an incumbent senator, he would benefit from a clause in the amendment bill that would allow elected senators to seek re-election. The former Senate speaker said there was no certainty that he would have contested the next Senate election and even if he had run, there was guarantee that he would have got elected.

Nikom also argued that the 2007 Constitution, which was abolished after the coup in May last year, no longer existed. He asked how the NACC could bring a case against him based on a law that did not exist.

The NACC representative argued that though the 2007 charter was defunct there were still laws in the NACC act and the Constitution’s corruption bill that could be used against Somsak and Nikom.

“Other independent organisations’ laws are still active, which means the NACC bill 1999 and 2009 can be used against the accused politicians,” Wicha insisted.

He also said Somsak and Nikom’s actions fit the law as they had intended to violate the highest national law, and had also violated the integrity of their parliamentary positions.

The NACC added that Somsak had forged the draft of then MP Udomdej Rattanasatien on the senator issue, and brought the new draft to a Parliament meeting for scrutiny, which was unlawful.

Somsak rejected the accusation and said, “There was only one draft from Udomdej. If I had forged the documents then why didn’t any MP realise or oppose the draft proposals? There was only one draft,” Somsak said.

Wicha said Somsak’s action could also be tried under criminal law, and the NACC would proceed with pursuing a case against him in criminal and other courts.

The closing statements in the two cases are scheduled for January 21 and the impeachment vote is set for January 23.

Today, the NLA panel will question the NACC and former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, who will be present, on the impeachment case related to her alleged dereliction of duty in supervising the rice-pledging scheme.

The vote for her case is set for the same day as Somsak and Nikom’s cases.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

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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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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Thailand

Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island?

Caitlin Ashworth

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Is Koh Pha Ngan Thailand’s best island? | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

OPINION

Koh Pha Ngan was voted third best island in Asia in the 2020 Condé Nast’s Readers Choice Awards. The island is widely known for its monthly Full Moon parties on Haad Rin beach, but Surat Thani governor Wichawut Jinto, who boasted about the island’s recent rating, said there’s more to Koh Pha Ngan than Haad Rin.

Condé Nast publishes a monthly travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller, as well as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue. It’s safe to say the publication’s target audience is more interested in luxury resorts than dirt cheap party hostels and monthly beach raves. For example, for the best islands in the United States, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina was voted number 1. It’s a golf lovers paradise and a popular vacation spot for suburban families.

A trip Koh Pha Ngan can be a completely different experience depending on where you go and what you do. Some stay on Haad Rin on the southeastern side of the island and have a trip like Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fueled “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” while some go to the western side for a yoga or healing retreat.

The Full Moon parties, which would draw more than 30,000 mostly foreign tourists, was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Thailand. But before the outbreak, the parties were known to be crazy with neon glow paint, fire jump rope and cheap buckets of alcohol and use of illicit drugs. The sand was so sticky that people were better off wearing shoes, and just about everyone pees (and pukes) in the ocean.

Even on the west side of the island, where it’s more known for yoga and meditation retreats, things can sometimes get a little weird. A tourist said she did a “spiritual healing” ritual on the island known as a kambo cleanse where secretion from a South American frog is applied to burnt skin. She said “I feels like you’re dying” but “it’s great.”

While the west side of the island has trendy resorts and bungalows, as well as a variety of yoga retreats and pricy vegan food, some people also live on a budget – a very tight budget. Some tourists even camped out on a hidden beach during the pandemic, a tourist claims. A local artist said he lives in a cave on the same beach.

Koh Pha Ngan topped Bali, Indonesia, which was number 9 on the list. Phuket was number 8 on the list and Koh Samui was number 10.

Here’s what made the top 10 Asia islands in the Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards 2020.

  1. Cebu & Visayas, Philippines 95.83
  2. Sri Lanka 95.45
  3. Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand 95.30
  4. Palawan, Philippines 95.22
  5. Siargao Island, Philippines 95.19
  6. Boracay, Philippines 95.06
  7. Lombok, Indonesia 94.59
  8. Phuket, Thailand 94.12
  9. Bali, Indonesia 93.27
  10. Koh Samui, Thailand 92.73

SOURCES: Condé Nast | Bangkok Post

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