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Media seek clarity over ‘peacekeeping’ officers

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Media seek clarity over ‘peacekeeping’ officers
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Four media organizations yesterday issued a joint statement asking the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to shed more light on Peace and Order Maintaining (POM) officers in order to ensure that the media and the general public will not be affected by Article 44.

The four organizations – Thai Journalists Association, National Press Council of Thailand, News Broad-casting Council of Thailand and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association – were concerned about certain clauses under Article 44 related to what constitutes a threat to “security”.

They say the order gives the NCPO, led by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, a lot of room for interpretation. “What seems to be problematic here is the interpretation of the word ‘security’, which is broad. It could give power users the opportunity to over-exercise their authority,” said Attasit Pankaew, a political scientist at Thammasat University.

The lack of clarity about the definition of “security” could lead to self-censorship of the media.

On Wednesday night, the government replaced martial law with Article 44, under which the conditions imposed by the NCPO seem to threaten media freedom. The interpretation of the clause, threat to “security”, which might lead the authorities to stop the media from broadcasting, has sparked huge concerns among the media.

“Order No 5 of Article 44 has clearly highlighted the possibility of censorship by state authorities,” said Pattara Khumphitak, president of the National Press Council of Thailand.

If the authorities decide to interpret something as being distorted information harmful to security, this may directly hurt the media and people’s freedom of expression at large.

Matters related to the order of the NCPO’s chief are also unclear, according to Pattara. The NCPO should be more precise about when it has to step in and exercise power.

“Some guidelines on the exercising of power under this specific clause [related to freedom of press] should be provided to officials [to avoid excessive use of power],” he said.

Nutchapokorn Nummueng, a communications officer at the I-law Freedom of Expression Documentation Center, also highlighted the importance of being more precise about the conditions under which the media could be temporarily prevented from broadcasting information.

Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr reacted to this concern by insisting that officials would have no need to intervene in matters that do not touch upon security issues. “I would like to ask for cooperation, in particular, from media, which plays a major role in the establishment of common understanding”, he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Public Health Minister gets first Covid-19 vaccine shot in Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth

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Public Health Minister gets first Covid-19 vaccine shot in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook/ Anutin Charnvirakul

Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who was jabbed with China’s Sinovac vaccine. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the prime minister’s injection was postponed. Doctors advised Prayut to get the AstraZeneca vaccine due to his age. Prayut is 66 and doctors say the Sinovac vaccine has been declared safe for people ages 18 to 59.

Both shipments of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines arrived last week, the AstraZeneca vaccine still needs to be endorsed by the Medical Science Department. Anutin says the pharmaceutical company has not submitted documents and samples needed for the endorsement.

Along with Anutin, a number of other government officials and health professionals were vaccinated against the coronavirus. Anutin’s shot was administered by Thailand’s top virologist Yong Poovorawan.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions

Caitlin Ashworth

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Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The Royal Thai Police are being accused of using so-called “elephant tickets” to buy their way into promotions and pay their way up the police force’s chain of command. The corruption among the police force and the buying of positions without meeting the requirements for a promotion has been a longtime problem, according to the Bangkok Post.

The “elephant ticket” issue was recently brought to light by an opposition MP at a censure debate who said it fast tracked the promotion system and allowed some people who were unqualified and undeserving to raise their rank. Some Thais have protested the “elephant ticket.” Many gathered in front of the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok last week, including one person who dressed up as an elephant.

At the censure debate on February 19, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome called out PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the Police Commission overseeing the Royal Thai Police, and said the prime minister allowed the “elephant ticket” promotions. Prayut later said there were problems within the police force and that he would handle it.

Police who want a promotion need a ticket, which is basically just a reference or a stamp of approval from a senior officer or even a politician or business person. To get an “elephant ticket,” some can pay for the ticket. A source told the Post that positions for police superintendents cost between 5 to 10 million baht.

Others can get a ticket by doing favours for their superior or even just serving their superior for a long time, sources told the Bangkok Post. The higher the position a senior officer has, the more tickets they have to give out.

To read the full special report by the Bangkok Post, click HERE.

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Crime

Woman talks about the life of a Thai “pretty” after model’s death

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman talks about the life of a Thai “pretty” after model’s death | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Instagram/ wawa_manika

Following the news of a model who died after working as a hostess at a Bangkok party, Thai media spoke with a woman, known in Thailand as a “pretty,” about what it’s like to work in the lucrative, yet shady Thai model entertainment industry where many work as hostesses at parties and events that often involve alcohol, drugs and sex work.

“Miss Cake” told the Thai news outlet Daily News that pretties are sent to parties by “modelling agencies.” The parties are even categorized depending on if drugs or sex are involved. Apparently the parties are either “En-Up,” “En-V” or just “En” for entertainment. En-Up means drugs are involved, while En-V means the pretties will offer sexual services. Other pretties work at promotional events like auto shows. Since nightclubs and other entertainment venues in Bangkok have been closed due to the pandemic, many of the parties are now held at private homes.

If a pretty is working at an En-Up party, Miss Cake says that means there will be ecstasy, known as “khanom,” the Thai word for a dessert or snack. She says good “khanom” shipped from overseas costs around 900 to 1,000 baht while the poor quality, Thai-made drugs cost 500 baht. Just about every pretty takes drugs, she says. If mixed with ketamine, Miss Cake says it can be dangerous.

Daily News spoke with Miss Cake following the death of a 33 year old Witchayaporn “Wawa” Wisetsombat who worked died in a hospital after working as a hostess at a party in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district. She had been hired by a modelling agency to serve drinks at a private party. Her younger sister told the Bangkok Post that Wawa was a product presenter and never sold sex or used narcotics. Doctors told the Post Wawa died from respiratory and blood system failure. They are still waiting for the results for a toxicology test.

The death of another model back in 2019 shed light on the abuse and danger many pretties face in the industry. 25 year old Thitima “Lunlabelle” Noraphanpiphat died from “extreme alcohol intoxication,” according to an autopsy report. Her dead body was found in the lobby of a Bangkok condominium. 6 people were found guilty for involvement in Lunlabelle’s death.

Abuse is common in the industry and many women working as pretties are often pressured into drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. The work of pretties is looked down upon in Thai society. Due to the stigma, many due not file complaints when they are abused.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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