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Junta goes for lighter touch on lese majeste laws

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Junta goes for lighter touch on lese majeste laws | The Thaiger

with Kai Chanwanpen – The Nation

iLaw experts say they see changes for the better and courts given more leeway in Thailand’s lese majeste cases.

Thailand saw the most aggressive enforcement of the lese majeste law after the junta came to power in 2014, but current trends point to an unprecedented relaxation, according to iLaw.

“There was a time, after the coup in 2014, when dozens of people were summoned and charged, with military officers present in the process. And then there was this peak after the passing of King Rama IX,” said iLaw’s documentation centre head, Anon Chawalawan.

“But, all of a sudden, since last year, the tension built after the coup has started to ease. We see a number of cases getting dropped and we see a significant change in the prosecution procedure.”

iLaw, a non-profit organisation that champions democracy and freedom of expression, has been keeping a record of lese majeste cases related to politics since the day the military seized the reins of power more than four years ago.

Scores of people were slapped with various criminal charges – from violation of junta orders to sedition. But above all, the draconian lese majeste law – Article 112 of the Criminal Code that prohibits defamation, insult and threats against the monarchy – was one of the allegations commonly used against dissenters and political activists. In the early days, Anon said, the act of bringing alleged violators to justice was more a matter of “clearance”.

Cases on the books since 2006 that had seen no movement were dusted off. Alleged violators were summoned by junta order to undergo “attitude adjustment” and interrogation. Some were prosecuted soon after their seven-day detention.

“So, during the military-led rule from 2014 to 2015, at least 61 people were prosecuted under Article 112,” Anon said.

The situation was especially bad after October 2016, when King Bhumibol passed away. Royalists reported an unusually large number of lese majeste cases besides using other measures, including violence, to deal with those deemed disrespectful of the monarchy while the nation mourned.

The case of Jatupat Boonpipattararaksa, also known as Pai Dao Din, occurred during this period. He shared an article on Facebook deemed against the law. After pleading guilty last year, Pai was sentenced to two years and six months in jail.

During the period of mourning between 2016 and 2017, at least 33 people were charged with lese majeste, according to iLaw.

However, since the beginning of this year, Anon said, there had been a change for the better.

Another recent development, which points to a trend of relaxation in the use of Article 112, is the case in which the Appeals Court acquitted six young men of lese majeste and only punished them for criminal association and damaging public property.

“This shows that the interpretation is now more strictly and more in line with the spirit of the law,” Anon said. “In this case, it was vandalism and it was not necessarily an insult to the monarchy. This is a new development. Before, the interpretation could sometimes be very broad.”

Most importantly, Anon said, the new trend could also be seen in the recent change in procedure.

“The Office of the Attorney-General announced in February that royal defamation indictments can come only from top national prosecutors, to prevent misuse of the law,” he said. “From this, we can expect to see better scrutiny in interpretation of the case before it goes to court.”

Junta goes for lighter touch on lese majeste laws | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Phuket

Top 10 ways to save water at home

The Thaiger

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Top 10 ways to save water at home | The Thaiger

Hot weather and Thailand’s boom-or-bust water issues (floods in wet season and water shortages in the hot season) are a part of our life. And it’s predicted that there will be hotter hot seasons and wetter wet-seasons in the future. Even if we’re not sure what the future brings we should all be conscious of our water usage, be more self-sufficient and empower ourselves to do something positive to protect Thailand’s precious water reserves.

Here are a few ideas that may help you become more water-wise…

• Shower with a bucket. Don’t let all that water pour down the drain and stick a bucket next to you whilst you shower. The plants will be grateful for an extra drink on hot days and save you using the hose sometimes. Whilst you’re at it, cut your 5 minute shower down to three minutes. Really, you can sing somewhere else! And, really, do we absolutely have to have four showers a day? No. A fresh spray of the deodorant and a fresh shirt will be perfectly OK during water shortages. For couples, well, shower together!

• Leave the water running whilst brushing your teeth? Try turning it off until you want to rinse out your mouth. All that useable water flowing down the basic drain whilst you’re brushing isn’t making your teeth any whiter! Same when you’re washing your hands or washing your hair. Turn off the tap whilst you’re doing all the scrubbing. These little habits could end up saving tens of litres every time you do these common tasks.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

• Boiling pasta? Rice? Eggs? Once the left-over water has cooled use it to water your indoor or outdoor plants. Just make sure the water has cooled first!

• Washing the car at a car wash is more efficient than doing it yourself at home. Car wash businesses recycle a lot of their water. Even better, drive around with a dirty car now and then – it’s not hurting you or the car and will save water by delaying your car wash.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

• Lawns use lots of water and daily watering during the hot season can soak up hundreds of litres of valuable. Letting your lawn go brown, be assured it will come back in the wet season. And long-term, landscape accordingly with water wise ground covers, succulents, and other plants that thrive in drought conditions. Lawns may be a luxury we can’t afford in these water-conscious times.

• Only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Even better wash the dishes by hand. Dishwashing machines are notable water wasters. Grab you partner or a friend and have a chat or a laugh for the five minutes it will take you to wash the dishes by hand. You could save up to 50-100 litres of water! And fill up the sink once and do all the washing together without leaving the water running all the time.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

• Whilst it hasn’t been a worry in the past, our useable potable water supplies around Thailand are becoming an issue that won’t be fixed immediately. Consider installing a simple rain catchment system. They can be cheap or expensive and should be considered if you’re building a new house as an integral part of the design. Your roof is an amazing water-catcher. Use it.

• Flush the toilet less often and with less water. Most modern toilets have a half-flush option and there are other tricks to reducing the re-fill in your toilet’s cistern – putting a brick into your cistern is one way (gently!).

• Water the plants early in the morning. You’ll need less water, since cooler morning temperatures mean less evaporation. It’s not a great idea to water in the evenings, since this can promote mould growth in the humid Thai weather and hot evenings. And you really don’t need to water the driveway. It’s not growing. No one is going to walk past your house and compliment you on your sparkling clean drive-way.

• The dog WILL survive without being washed every day, or week. Indeed our dogs used to survive perfectly well without being washed at all. If the family pooch does need a wash try and use some of the water you saved from the bucket in the shower and be careful not to leave the hose on whilst rubbing in the shampoo. As for the cat, it is genetically programmed to clean itself better than you could ever hope to. Leave the cat alone – it DOES NOT need to be washed.

Top 10 ways to save water at home | News by The Thaiger

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World Bank downgrades Thailand’s 2019 GDP growth to 3.8%

The Thaiger

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World Bank downgrades Thailand’s 2019 GDP growth to 3.8% | The Thaiger

The World Bank is downgrading Thailand’s growth projections to 3.8% from 3.9% for 2019. This compares to last year’s 4.1% GDP. The Bank says that export growth has shrunk to 5.7% from last year’s 5.9%.

The World Bank’s senior economist for Thailand, Mr. Kiatpong Ariyapratya, says that the Word Bank also projects that Thailand’s growth rate for next year would remain at 3.8%. He was citing the East Asia and Pacific Update report,

“Thailand’s export growth projection for this year was adjusted down because of a global economic slowdown as a result of the simmering trade war between the US and China. Growth in tourist arrivals to Thailand this year is also projected to drop slightly.”

Thai PBS reports that, although Thailand’s growth projection is lower than the average 4%-5% rate for the rest of ASEAN, Mr. Kiatpong said that Thailand’s economic growth trend was improving compared to the situation 2-3 years ago, especially investment in the government and private sectors and the private sector’s consumption is picking up, constituting the main engines of economic expansion, expected to grow 4.6% and 4.3% respectively.

He warned that investments by the government sector for the year 2021, as well as government procurement projects and private sector investments, might be affected if formation of the new government is further delayed.

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Thailand

Thailand is ‘least miserable’ country in the world again

The Thaiger

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Thailand is ‘least miserable’ country in the world again | The Thaiger

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he’s delighted over Thailand’s rating as the “least miserable” economy in the latest Bloomberg Misery Index. The annual Misery Index is calculated as the sum of a country’s inflation and unemployment rates.  The index compares the average of economists’ forecasts for each country.

The US moved six places to 13th least miserable and the UK improved four spots to 16th least.

Thailand scored 2.1 in the 2019 Index, which was the same score it received last year, making it the “least miserable” country out of 62 economies as rated by Bloomberg. Switzerland improved to second least miserable. Venezuela was rated the “most miserable economy” with inflation projected at about six million percent this year.

But Bloomberg says that Thailand is often rated least miserable due, in large part, to its rather unorthodox way of counting employment as well as their low fertility rate and aging population.

The Bank of Thailand lists Thailand’s unemployment rate at 0.9 percent and inflation at 1.1 for last year.

Thailand is 'least miserable' country in the world again | News by The Thaiger

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