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“March 24, most appropriate date for election” – Election Commission

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“March 24, most appropriate date for election” – Election Commission | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: Election Commissioner Ittiporn Boonpracong

The Election Commission finally announced a date for the long-awaited election. The poll will be held on March 24, but the EC did not indicate if the official results will be declared before May 9. The situation raises potential legal concerns with the timeframe set by the Constitution.

Hours after the Royal Decree on the general election was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday, chief Election Commissioner Ittiporn Boonpracong called a meeting to decide on the polling date, even though by law the EC has five days to make the decision.

The election date has been a much-discussed topic since the junta-backed government handed the “hot potato” to the EC. Now, it is the EC’s responsibility to ensure the polls do not overlap with the coronation of the monarch, which will be held from May 4 to 6, and the many ceremonies before and after the event.

However, most commissioners decided on March 24 as the date, as they had taken into account other poll-related activities, Ittiporn said.

“This is the most appropriate date because it allows us to carry out all the activities in time,” Ittiporn said.

“These activities include the MP application, voting from abroad, as well as the electoral campaign.”

The commission considered other date options, including March 10 that had been floated earlier, but concluded that it would leave them with too little time for pre-election procedures, he said. Allowing 52 days for parties to carry out their electoral campaigns was one factor that they had taken into consideration.

They finally decided on March 24 as the best option, Ittiporn said. Debate continued, however, over whether the election results should be finalised by May 9 – the final day of the 150-day timeframe set by the Constitution after the MP election law comes into effect.

Ittiporn declined to confirm whether the commission could be able to complete the whole process and avoid the risk of unconstitutional polling, which could lead to an annulment of the election.

After the Royal Decree yesterday, the PM’s Office issued a statement asking people to help keep peace and order throughout the election process as well as the coronation ceremony and avoid any conflict that would lead to a political crisis as in the past.

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SOURCE: The Nation

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Hua Hin

Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted

Caitlin Ashworth

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Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

3 children were injured when a carnival ride malfunctioned at the Hua Hin Red Cross Festival in Prachuap Khiri Khan. The required safety certification was not submitted and local officials are investigating, according to Mayor Nopphon Wutthikul. Carnival rides now are closed for the duration of the festival.

“Preliminary inspection revealed that they had yet to submit safety certification signed by licensed engineers from related government agencies. We will further investigate this matter to find out if there was misconduct by any official.”

The children were on an octopus amusement ride when the hydraulics system failed. Children rode in colorful cars attached to arms that arch and connect to a central axis, resembling the shape of an octopus. The central axis spins and goes up and down.

10 children were on the ride around 10pm Friday when the hydraulics system broke, according to the festival organiser Pannee Klomtheri. A Facebook user made a post saying she saw the ride collapse. Pannee says the injuries are not serious.

“Three children were injured and were sent to Bangkok Hua Hin Hospital with some bruises. Doctors said all the kids are now fine. There was no death caused by the incident.”

Pannee says the octopus ride and other nearby rides will be closed while local officials inspect the site. The festival ends on December 6.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Activists say reform is needed to end sexual abuse in Thai schools

Caitlin Ashworth

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Activists say reform is needed to end sexual abuse in Thai schools | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Reuters / Chalinee Thirasupa

Her mouth taped shut. Red marks around her neck. Dressed in a schoolgirl uniform, a woman held a sign saying “A teacher committed sexual abuse against me. Schools are not safe.” The photo from a recent pro-democracy protest quickly spread online, drawing criticism from some while others say reform is needed to end sexual abuse and harassment in Thai schools.

Some social activists say the justice system does not fairly treat victims who report sexual abuse and harassment. Thai women’s rights activists have recently been seen at protests calling on an end to “victim blaming,” saying that women are often blamed for sexual assault and even rape because of the way they dress.

Manager of Social Equality Promotion Foundation, Supensri Puengkhoksung, says the justice system needs to step up and deliver prompt punishment to prevent repeat offenses.

At schools, many executives do not thoroughly investigate abuse allegations due to fears that it could damage the school’s reputation, Supensri claims. She says the perpetrators rarely face any punishment and the victims are stigmatised, with some dropping out of school due to embarrassment.

Sexual crimes in schools are seldom reported to police, according to police superintendent of the Children and Women’s Protection Subdivision, Jiraklit Jarounapat. He adds that those abused by their teachers don’t report the abuse because they’re afraid about repercussions like getting a bad grade in class.

Commander of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Siam Boonsom, says the majority of students who reported abuse say their teacher violated them during a field trip or extracurricular activity outside of school.

“Parents shouldn’t let their children attend activities outside of school for long periods of time, or go on trips with their teachers alone.”

Supensri adds that children need to be educated at an early age about predatorial behaviour to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of sexual harassment and abuse. She says children in kindergarten should be taught to recognise inappropriate behaviour while older children should be taught on how to report abuse.

“Safe spaces must be created in public places and schools should be equipped with alert systems that can be triggered when an emergency occurs.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Twitter suspends Thai royalist linked account which spread pro-government propaganda

Caitlin Ashworth

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Twitter suspends Thai royalist linked account which spread pro-government propaganda | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter: Screenshot

A Thai royalist-linked account was suspended on Twitter following a review by Reuters reporters that found the account spread posts in favour of His Majesty the King and the monarchy in what appeared to be a tactic to sway the public opinion.

While ongoing protests are calling on monarchy reform with statements considered unprecedented and taboo in Thai society, Reuters says they found tens of thousands of tweets from accounts amplifying the pro-government agenda, which an expert claims is a move to counter the pro-democracy movement.

While not directly linked, internal army training documents leaked to reporters show the Royal Thai Army used Twitter to spread pro-government propaganda and discredit the now-disbanded Future Forward Party. Hundreds of the Twitter accounts linked to the Army were suspended in October.

The account @jitarsa_school, created in September with 48,000 followers, was suspended after Reuters reporters reached out to Twitter for comment about the pro-monarchy accounts. A representative from Twitter told Reuters that the account violated the rules and that the suspension was not due to the reporters’ review.

“The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation.”

Twitter suspends Thai royalist linked account which spread pro-government propaganda | News by The Thaiger

Reuters found that of the 48,000 accounts following @jitarsa_school, 80% of them were created since the start of September. Reuters says thousands of the “bot-like” accounts only promoted royalist hashtags. Some hashtags shared by @jitarsa_school translate to #StopViolatingTheMonarchy, #ProtectTheMonarchy, #WeLoveTheMotherOfTheLand, #WeLoveTheMonarchy and #MinionsLoveTheMonarchy.

While the account does not appear to be associated with the Royal Thai Army, the activity is similar. In October, Twitter suspended 926 accounts linked to the Royal Thai Army which were “amplifying pro-government propaganda.” At the time, the army said they were not associated with the accounts.

Recently, a 28-page document showing the army’s plan to target opponents and spread pro-monarchy messages was leaked. The army claims the plan was used as a public relations training exercise.

While Twitter only suspended 926 accounts, the documents says that 17,562 Twitter accounts were run by 9,743 army officers. The army officers were split into a “White Team” and a “Grey/Black Team.” According to the document, the accounts were aimed to appear like authentic accounts and officers were instructed to tweet with coordinated hashtags and retweet each other’s posts.

SOURCE: Reuters

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