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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Abhisit, Suthep ready for trial as amnesty bill anger set to explode; Police name suspect in veteran’s murder

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Abhisit, Suthep ready for trial as amnesty bill anger set to explode; Police name suspect in veteran’s murder | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Abhisit, Suthep ‘ready to face trial’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The two top Democrats facing charges over the 2010 political mayhem declared yesterday that they were ready to face trial and fight for their corner in court.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and MP Suthep Thaugsuban also threatened to file a counter-lawsuit accusing the Attorney General of wrongfully deciding to indict and prosecute them.

Abhisit said he and Suthep would report to the prosecutors within tomorrow’s deadline to acknowledge the charges of instigating others to kill or attempt to kill during the 2010 red-shirt protests.

The prosecutors had previously summoned them to acknowledge the outcome of the prosecution review before deciding to make a decision on a trial, he said.

The Democrat leader also voiced confidence that he and Suthep could clear their names because relevant legal provisions and factual evidence were in the defence’s favour. He added that as prime minister and deputy PM, he and Suthep had the legal mandate to oversee the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which was tasked with handling crowds.

Also, he said, a series of judicial rulings have confirmed that the protests were illegal and not in accordance with peaceful assembly, the right to which is enshrined in the Constitution. He added that the prosecutors also neglected to address the issue of the armed “men in black”.

The prosecution curiously chose not to mention the presence of armed men despite the ongoing trials on terrorism charges involving a number of rally organisers and red guards, he said.

DSI’s role questioned

The former PM also said the prosecutors failed to heed his question on the mandate of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to look into the supervision of the CRES. The case should be under the purview of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, he pointed out.

The DSI cited in its report that the two might have abused their power in overseeing the CRES, before making an assertion about its mandate on grounds that the case was related to a criminal offence, he said as he questioned the DSI’s legal reasoning in taking up the case. He said he was also suspicious of the timing of the indictment, which coincides with the House debate on amnesty, hinting at an ulterior motive to force the opposition to support blanket amnesty.

Suthep said many saw the prosecution’s decision as a means to help the government push the amnesty bill through.

“If the government continues pushing for the bill’s passage in second and third readings, I will intensify the fight by putting my life at stake,” he said.

He added that he wanted to remind Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that she might have to go into exile if she continued putting her family’s interests before those of the country. He alleged that the amnesty bill, when turned into law, would favour fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

DSI director-general Tarit Pengdith, meanwhile, said his investigators had worked in a straightforward manner leading to the indictment of Abhisit and Suthep.

He said that although the prosecutors had decided to try the two in a single count of offence on grounds that the crowd-control operations had one objective – to disperse the protests – he still believes the two should be tried for each death caused.

He said the judicial process for cases related to the mayhem would continue as per usual until the amnesty bill goes into effect. He also said that Abhisit and Suthep would be tried for criminal offence and not abuse of power.

As for the mayhem-related deaths, the DSI has sent 52 cases back to local police to investigate further and provide complete reports.

Of these cases, 15 had already been ruled upon by judicial inquests on the cause of death. Following the inquests, local police submitted 13 reports on each death for the DSI to review before deciding to drop or to seek prosecution review on criminal accountability.

Police name suspects in killing of bomb-disposal officers
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police have identified two suspected insurgents believed to be behind a bomb attack in Narathiwat on Monday that killed three police explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) officers.

One is a much-wanted, skilled bomb-maker. The other is the chief of a foreign-trained Runda Kumpalan Kecil (RKK) terror cell.

Police believe Abdullah U-lae assembled the two bombs and buried them at the site, off a major road in Bacho district. They detonated the second one while the EOD team was defusing the first bomb, which was found nearby, local police said yesterday.

Abdullah is wanted under four security warrants for his alleged roles in several bomb attacks. Police claim he is operating under the command of Marohmueree Kajaekasor, who heads an RKK cell active in the district.

The explosiony has prompted a new rule of engagement for EOD personnel and a restriction on members of the media, requiring them to stay 200 metres away from any suspected bombs, as cited in a statement by Army spokesman Colonel Banphot Phoolphian.

The funerals of the three officers were attended by a large number of relatives and mourners, and presided over by their superiors. Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha mourned the loss of their lives and praised police and military EOD personnel for their dedication and hard work.

The three officers, Pol Sub-Lieutenants Shaen Warongphaisit and Charoon Mekmaung and Pol Sergeant Nimit Deewong, have been promoted posthumously to the rank of police lieutenant-general, police major-general and lieutenant-colonel respectively, with the change taking effect immediately, said a police spokesman.

Their families are entitled to assistance money in the range of Bt3.96 million, Bt2.98 million and Bt2.93 million respectively, while their spouses and children will be welcomed to serve as police officers.

The loss of the three EOD officials, as well as six other deaths and 15 injuries or disabilities sustained this year, have not affected regular police duties and counter-insurgency operations, said Narathiwat Police chief Pol Maj-General Phatthanawut Angkhanawin.

Amnesty anger set to explode
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A much-feared confrontation over the controversial amnesty bill being pushed by the Pheu Thai-led government appeared more likely yesterday, as Democrat Party MP Suthep Thaugsuban decided to call for rallies nationwide from tomorrow, a Democrat Party source said.

Suthep’s decision was prompted by House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont’s urgent call yesterday for a second reading of the bill tomorrow. Suthep, reportedly acting independently, will today hold a press conference to call the rallies. In Bangkok, the rally venue will be in front of Parliament, while provincial rallies will take place outside city halls.

The Pheu Thai Party yesterday resolved to vote for the revised version of the bill, which would grant amnesty to all – a condition opposed even by the government’s closest ally, the red-shirt movement.

The House will tomorrow begin its debate on the second reading

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand, delivered fresh, and free, to you. Hosted by Tim Newton. Catch the latest updates and Thai News.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments yesterday.

A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021. The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

Bleak outlook for Thailand’s hotels

Thailand’s hotels are facing a very dark time with the Thai borders still largely closed and the vast majority of Thailand’s hotels remaining closed for business.

There are 1000s of hotels and a related millions of staff, waiting for things to improve. C9hotelworks.com MD, Bill Barnett, is one of the region’s most respected consultants for the industry. We asked Bill, how are they all surviving? (Run interview video… 2.56 – 3.35)

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort

After coming in for some negative online attention recently, the land title deeds of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort have been investigated and found “to be in order”.

The 5-star hotel first attracted the attention of netizens when its owner, Vorasit Issara, publicly criticised an anti-government activist.

His Instagram tirade prompted outrage from those who support the current protest movement, with netizens calling for a boycott of his property.

Shortly after, the Civil Society for State Welfare called on the Social Security Office to clarify its investment in the resort’s trust fund. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

Responding to the land rights issue, the Phuket Land Office has issued a statement to say the hotel does not occupy state land.

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month…again.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures.

Now, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily as the county starts welcoming back visitors.

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival goes ahead next month

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that!

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will take place from October 17 to 25.

Given the fireworks and crackers exploding in your face if you attend any of the events, it’s probably a good idea that the Governor is insisting visitors wear face masks. We’d recommend eye googles as well.

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival.

The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

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Economy

Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal

Caitlin Ashworth

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Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

It’s going to be another 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back on track, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. At least that’s the amount of time he expects it will take to get the economy back to “normal levels” from before the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis crippled economies across the globe. The Covid-19 pandemic is already the worst global crisis since World War II, according to a report by the UN. Thailand’s tourism-dependant economy has been struggling since the country shut it’s doors to international travel. Krungthai Bank also predicts it will take about 2 to 3 years for Thailand’s economy to recover and the Finance Ministry predicts Thailand’s economy will contract by a record of 8.5% this year.

Almost 800 billion baht has gone into supporting the economy, Supattanapong says, adding that the government plans to do more stimulus perks to help boost the economy. The government is working on a 1.9 trillion baht response package with a 1 trillion baht borrowing plan.

Supattanapong’s guesses are based on the pandemic situation not getting any worse, whilst the world’s Covid cases, in many part of the world, including many of Thailand’s feeder markets, are suffering a new spike in cases. His assumptions would also have to include an immediate return to high profit of the country’s tourism industry – not likely to happen any time soon.

“I think the economy should get back to normal levels within two years… But if we can manage it very well, we may see that late next year.”

While Thailand’s economy as a whole might take just 2 years to get back to normal, the country’s tourism revenue is expected to take even longer. Krungthai COMPASS Research Centre predicts it will be at least 3 to 4 years until tourism revenue is back to normal. Thailand’s tourism revenue is expected to shrink by 70% by the end of this year, making only 9.1 billion baht compared to the 3.02 trillion baht tourism brought in last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Prachachat

The government just sealed the deal to build Thailand’s first factory to produce cancer-treating medicine and chemicals, a move that is expected to cut treatment drug costs in half. Buying imported cancer-treating drugs is expensive. Thailand spends about 21 billion baht per year on imported cancer medicine, according to Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The local factory is intended to give Thais more affordable and also more accessible medicines for treating cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Thailand, Anutin says, adding that each year, 80,000 people in Thailand die from cancer.

Thailand's first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: CDC Thailand

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation signed a contract with PTT to build the plant. Construction will be begin in 2022 and they would start producing commercially until 2027. The factory will produce variety of drugs for many different types of cancer, including drugs for chemotherapy, according to the organisation’s managing director.

“This factory will have the capacity to produce 30 million units of chemotherapy drugs and 31 million units of biological drugs per year, with a focus on patents that will expire first. Once there is enough for domestic use, we can boost our production capacity for export. This will make cancer drugs cheaper in the country and will also help push for them to be included in the national list of most-needed medications.”

The factory is planned to be in Rayong’s Ban Chang district at the PTT Wanarom Eco Zone Industries estate. The feasibility study is expected to take 14 months.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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