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Most judges picked for Yingluck case also hearing other Thaksin cases

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Most judges picked for Yingluck case also hearing other Thaksin cases | The Thaiger

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Most judges picked for Yingluck case also hearing other Thaksin cases
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: More than half of nine judges selected yesterday by 146 Supreme Court members to be on a panel to hear the rice scheme case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra have been picked to rule on cases linked to the Thaksin camp.

Thanit Ketsawapitak, a senior judge, had voted to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai Party in May 2007, after the coup in September 2006 ousted the Thaksin government. The panel voted 9:0 to disband the party, but Judge Thanit was one of the minority opposing the then junta’s order to ban Thai Rak Thai executives for five years.

Judge Thanit was also a member of the judges’ panel that ruled to confiscate 46 billion baht of Mr Thaksin’s assets, for benefiting from corrupt dealings while he was prime minister.

Meanwhile, Ms Yingluck has yet to say if she will object to the judicial panel that has been selected, as both the plaintiff and the defendant have the right to file a petition if they object to the selection.

Ms Yingluck’s lawyer Norawit Lalang said a team of lawyers would meet soon to discuss if they want to file an objection to the appointment of the nine judges. If there is no objection, the panel will decide on March 19 whether it should accept the case.

The Office of the Attorney-General filed the indictment against Ms Yingluck on Thursday with the Supreme Court’s Division for Political Office Holders at the recommendation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to press malfeasance and negligence charges over her alleged failure to stop corruption and more than 500bn baht in losses in the rice subsidy scheme.

Of the nine judges, five are on the panel that will hear a case against former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and three others for malfeasance filed by the NACC over the deadly crackdown on People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters in October 2008. The first hearing for that trial is set for May.

Three of the five are vice presidents of the court – Weerapol Tangsuwan, Sheep Jullamon and Sirichai Wattanayotin. The other two are Thanarerk Nitiserani, chairman of the court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, and Thanasit Nilkamhaeng, chairman of the court’s Election Cases Division.

Weerapol Tangsuwan, who is also chief justice of the court, was selected to sit on a panel to hear a case filed by the state prosecutors against former PM Thaksin and 27 others for malfeasance, which is estimated to have cost the state up to 4.5bn baht in loans extended by state-run Krungthai Bank (KTB) to real-estate firm Krisada Mahanakorn Group.

The KTB trial began years ago but is still being heard, with witnesses and other defendants being summoned to give testimony. The case was suspended after Mr Thaksin fled the country, but has continued in relation to other defendants.

Supreme Court president Direk Ingkaninanda yesterday chaired the meeting of 146 judges – out of 173 in total who cast secret votes to select the judges’ panel for Ms Yingluck’s case.

Meanwhile, a Finance Ministry subcommittee’s auditing of the rice-pledging scheme for the period of 2004 to 2014, ending September 2014, found that a loss of 18bn baht had been incurred in May 2014 alone, bringing the total loss over 10 years to approximately 700bn baht.

Rungson Sriworasat, permanent secretary of the Finance Ministry, said yesterday that 536bn baht in losses were incurred under Ms Yingluck. There are currently some 17.5 million tonnes of rice in state inventories valued at 230bn baht, of which 2.9 million tonnes are of good quality, while the rest are substandard.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget

May Taylor

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Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters | The Business Times

The opposition is accusing the government of being more concerned with military arms than the daily struggles of Thai citizens. During a debate in Parliament on the budget bill, the government was accused of caring more about the growth in military spending than citizens’ financial woes.

The opposition levied the attack after PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered the 3.2 trillion baht bill to the House of Representatives. The debate on the 2020 budget is expected to continue for two more days and if approved by Parliament, the bill will come into force early next year.

The PM says the budget aligns with the “20 year strategy” to improve the living standards of the nation’s citizens while growing the economy, but opponents accuse him of making defence spending a priority.

The leader of the opposition, Sompong Amornvivat, claims that in the five years the PM has been in power, total spending has hit 14.3 trillion baht, with loans of 2.2 trillion baht, without any significant growth in the economy. He accuses the government of spending more than 6 billion baht on defence, with the Interior Ministry getting 25 billion baht more than last year.

It’s also understood that the government has also put 518.8 billion baht aside, which it can spend as it wishes, without the consent of Parliament.

The government’s tourism stimulus plan, whereby domestic tourists would be given cash incentives, also came under fire as Sompong declared it a waste of money that would do nothing to boost productivity.

The subject of the PM’s oath-taking fiasco reared its head again, as the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pol General Sereepisut Temiyavej declared the PM and his government unfit to rule or propose a budget bill as a result of it.

Anudit Nakorntab from the Pheu Thai party said the government should postpone unnecessary spending on military arms while the country’s citizens battle economic hardship, accusing the previous junta-led administration of also prioritising the military in its spending.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals

May Taylor

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Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals | The Thaiger

The chairman of the Thai Sugarcane Farmers Association, Thongkam Cheongklad, says a ban on the weed-killer paraquat would have a severe impact on production costs. Academics and Thai sugarcane farmers have also expressed their concern over the ban, saying it could cost the industry up to 570 billion baht.

The Nation reports that up to 1.2 million people working in the sugarcane industry are understood to be against the ban, saying the proposed paraquat substitute is both expensive and ineffective.

The president of the Thailand Society of Sugarcane Technologists, Kitti Choonhawong, says Thailand has approximately 11 million rai dedicated to sugarcane plantations, generating about 300 billion baht a year.

He claims that a ban on agri-chemicals may lower sugar production, which in turn would affect sugar factories and cause the export market to lose as much as 94.6 billion baht. Thailand is currently the world’s second biggest sugar exporter, behind Brazil.

A research director from the Thailand Development Institute says the ban could ultimately mean the country is not allowed to produce enough food, unless chemical fertilisers are still allowed if chemical pesticides are banned.

Viroj Na Ranong says production costs will still rise however, along with labour costs, adding that the government needs to do its homework.

“The government has to implement measures based on research, not on social trends and politics.”

It’s understood that The National Hazardous Substances Committee will meet on October 27 to decide if a ban on three chemicals currently used in farming will go ahead. The substances involved are paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos and the proposal is for them to be banned from December 1.

SOURCE: The Nation

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