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Leading players want charter amended after election

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A symposium “Thailand’s Future Democracy: Overcoming Traps and Dreams?”was held yesterday at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan Campus.

Probable players in a future political arena, Abhisit, Chaturon and Thanathorn, see the junta’s legacy as barrier to genuine democracy.

The Junta-sponsored charter, which imposes curbs on politicians, remains the prime target of big political parties who aim to replace it after the election even though it was endorsed in a 2017 national referendum, judging by the comments made at a symposium attended by prominent politicians yesterday.

Three politicians at the symposium believe the 2017 Constitution is an obstacle to the development of democracy in Thailand, whilst a fourth disagreed. And while the charter has stipulations that make it difficult to amend, the politicians were united in saying that it should be amended and that making changes was feasible if the people desired it.

Leading players want charter amended after election | News by The Thaiger

Former Democrat Party PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, former Pheu Thai Party minister Chaturon Chaisang, prominent newcomer and head of Future Forward Party Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and pro-junta politician and head of People’s Reform Party Paiboon Nititawan were the speakers.

Abhisit said democratic development was being blocked by several traps – the Constitution, the organic laws, the junta orders and the 250 junta-appointed senators. He said that although the Constitution was already in place and the country was heading towards a poll, the ruling NCPO orders were blocking the election road map it had previously created. And even if the election happened, he said, it remained uncertain how free and fair it would be given the junta’s absolute power.

In addition, after the voting the country would be stuck with a Constitution that was not democratic, said Abhisit, and with senators appointed by the junta.

Leading players want charter amended after election | News by The Thaiger

Thanathorn, a businessman who recently turned politician and is highly favoured by progressive young people, said the coups that had been repeatedly staged throughout the country’s modern history were traps that had prevented the country from getting anywhere. His Future Forward Party had therefore made it their main agenda to stop that cycle, he said, pledging to restore the people’s faith in the parliamentary system. The party would also bring hope to the country, he said.

“And our party proposes that we find a consensus and strengthen democracy,” Thanathorn added.

“To do that, we need a supermajority in the Lower House and then we will amend the Constitution and put it to a referendum.

”Paiboon, who had served in the reform assembly under the coup-installed regime and had been supportive of the NCPO, however expressed scepticism about elections and implied they were not necessary in a democracy. Reflecting on political conflict and the violence that had broken out since the election of the Thaksin Shinawatra government in 2006, Paiboon questioned whether it was democracy. With elections, the people only had power for four seconds when in the polling booth, he said. But what came after was corrupt MPs abusing power while citing the people’s mandate, Paiboon added.

The current regime was disliked by some people, Paiboon said, but would help fix the problems in democracy. He acknowledged that many people disapproved of the NCPO’s legacy, including the 250 senators who would be around for five years. But, said Paiboon, “[You] have to bear with it for five years and you’ll like it.”

In response, Chaturon said that democracy had a checks-and-balances system to deal with corruption. But the process had been blocked by the coups, he said.

Most importantly, the coups and their legacy had destroyed the democracy that had been developing for at least 15 years, during which voters learned to choose parties based on their policies, Chaturon said. The latest coup would leave behind a legacy of the Constitution, reforms and the national strategy, all planned without public participation, he said.

“The national strategy will be a trap and it will continue to be a trap for the next 20 years,” Chaturon said.

He proposed that the Constitution be amended. Only fair rules could solve the problems facing the country, including political conflict, he said. Chaturon said it was important that pro-democracy parties made it a point to amend the Constitution. It should be a policy plank that is campaigned on before the election, he said. Subsequently both the national reform and the 20-year strategy, which could lead to politicians being punished if they refuse to obey them, should also be reviewed, he added.

Though Abhisit agreed that the Constitution was problematic and needed handling, he saw it as perilous to vigorously argue the issue before election day. The public may become sceptical, wondering if the politicians wanted to do that for themselves and not for public interest, he said.

Paiboon, meanwhile, reminded everyone that it would not be easy to bring about any amendment to the Constitution. In addition to elected MPs, it also needed to be passed by one-third of the senators and one-fifth of the opposition force, he said. Others, however, said that if the people backed an amendment, it could be achieved.

Leading players want charter amended after election | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Thai netizens say pro-government royalists carried out Wednesday’s protest shootings

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Thai netizens say pro-government royalists carried out Wednesday’s protest shootings | The Thaiger
Thailand’s netizens are refuting police’s claims that pro-democracy protesters carried out Wednesday’s rally shootings. The shootings occurred at the rally site near Bangkok’s Siam Commerical Bank head office, where the rally site was originally planned but was then moved after protesters tried to avoid a clash with pro-government royalists. However, shots were fired, with police arresting a suspect on charges of attempted murder, shooting in public without reason, and carrying a firearm in public.

The netizens found footage of the scene, in which they say they identified the faces of the offenders. The revelation came after Deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Piya Tawichai blamed Ratsadon guards for the shootings and injuries.

Meanwhile, the pro-democracy leaders have been called into questionby donors to the movement, as they have criticised how the leaders have used the donations, when a guard was shot and injured. Netizens took to social media to ask what “fairy godmother” Inthira “Sine” Charoenpura and Pakorn “Hia Bung” Pornchewangkurn were buying with the donation money with some online comments mentioning the display of yellow ducks and props as a poor use of donation funds. Some criticisers pointed towards using the donations to buy protective gear for protesters after the shootings occurred, prompting the 2 leaders to issue a statement that they would now use such funds for the injured guards.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thai protests to continue in full force into December in line with symbolic calendar events

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Thai protests to continue in full force into December in line with symbolic calendar events | The Thaiger

The pro-democracy protests are set to continue well into December, according to Thai security officials. Officials have been preparing to cope with a rise in anti-government activities as symbolic calendar events are coming up. Today the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group says a protest will take place outside the 1st Infantry Battalion on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Phaya Thai District, giving credit to the predictions that there will no end in sight to the protests.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a secretary to PM’s Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, made the announcement yesterday in light of the Constitutional Court being set to pass a ruling this Wednesday on whether PM Prayut is guilty of occupying a house that is meant for military officials.

Prayut is accused by the opposition of engaging in the conflict of interest by occupying the army residence. Such a move should have ended with his army chief tenure in 2014, according to critics.

Following the upcoming ruling on Wednesday, the symbolic calendar event of Constitution Day falls on December 10, a day which will ignite more protests as one of the main demands of pro-democracy demonstrators is to have a new Thai charter, along with the resignation of Prayut and reform of the Thai monarchy.

But despite the anticipated rise in rallies, security officials have ruled out the possibility of a military coup. Critics remain sceptical as many demonstrators claim the government has put police on the front lines of the protests, dressed in yellow shirts, in an attempt to spark a clash to pave the way for a coup. The current PM, when he was the head of the Thai Army in 2014, also said there would be “no coup” against the elected Yingluck Shinawatra government. A month later the NCPO led a bloodless coup and installed Prayut Chan-o-cha as the interim prime minister.

Piya Tawichai, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, says protesters yesterday gathered near the Imperial World Samrong shopping mall in Samut Prakan before marching to the Bang Na intersection to rally, partially blocking the road. According to Kissana Phathanacharoen, the deputy spokesman for the national police, the protesters did not obtain permission for staging the rally.

Some protesters also reportedly spray-painted traffic police kiosks with messages that criticised the police for “ditching the people,” and smashed kiosk windows. Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, a protest leader, posted on Facebook yesterday that she has been summoned for violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which bans anyone from criticising the King which states:

“Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”

Rung says she believes the summons is linked to the September 10 anti-government rally.

SOURCE:The Phuket News

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia

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Ron Howard to direct cave rescue feature film ‘Thirteen Lives’ in Australia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The entrance to the real Tham Luang cave near the Myanmar border in far north Thailand

The Australian Government is putting up A$13 million to Imagine Entertainment and film giant MGM to shoot a live-action feature film called Thirteen Lives, based on the Chiang Rai Tham Luang cave rescue story. The film will be shot in Queensland, Australia in the hinterland areas behind the Gold Coast.

The film will be directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vince Code, Cocoon, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Splash, Frost/Nixon), and start filming in March 2021. The state’s Gold Coast hinterland will double for Thailand with a similar hot, humid climate.

The Australian Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP, says the production ishould inject more than A$96 million into the Australian economy, “directly creating around 435 jobs for cast and crew”.

Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue. And I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia.”

“I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies.”

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of the Mu Pa (Wild Boar) football team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding in Chiang Rai, far north Thailand. After the team was stuck for days with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a group of diving and rescue experts from all over the world were called up to work together with their Thai counterparts to save the 13 young men. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

The first major feature film about the rescue operation was The Cave, released in October 2019. The film was quite critical of the Thai red-tape which hampered much of the early rescue efforts.

Ron Howard has worked with plenty of Australians in the past.

“From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”

Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s Thirteen Lives will be distributed by Universal Pictures International.

Watch a message from director Ron Howard HERE.

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