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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Army-police rift widens; Yingluck ponders martial law; Rice farmers join PDRC; Rhino horn for Hanoi bagged

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Army-police rift widens; Yingluck ponders martial law; Rice farmers join PDRC; Rhino horn for Hanoi bagged | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Army-police rift widens
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Rifts between the police and the military appeared to be widening yesterday, as the Army commander in chief asked the national police chief to speed up investigation into recent attacks and a senior naval commander threatened to sue the police over allegations that a naval officer was behind the Sunday grenade attack.

Police also failed in their earlier push for an emergency decree to be issued to deal with the growing protest movement, with military commanders saying they saw no need for the decree.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, meanwhile, said yesterday that her government was considering whether to impose the decree, while caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchai-kul, who is in charge of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), said the law would be invoked if violence continued.

Army commander in chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, however, said yesterday that he had telephoned national police chief Pol General Adul Sangsingkaew and asked him to ensure that the “society gets clear facts” about the incidents. He has also said the assailants must face legal action and punishment.

Prayuth, in response to criticism that the military has been passive about dealing with the political conflict, said it had already done a lot. He also said the armed forces were not involved in any conflicts with any groups of people.

Meanwhile, Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Admiral Winai Klom-in yesterday threatened to file a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police if it can be established that the police caused misunderstanding via social media that one of his subordinates had flung a grenade at Victory Monument.

Winai said he believed the police were aware that the distribution of false information – by comparing a Naval Special Warfare Command officer’s picture with that of the suspect online – had affected his command.

“The way the police did it could be seen as an attempt to discredit our agency,” Winai said, adding that the officer whose face was linked with that of the bomb suspect was on a mission to fight against drug trafficking.

The police yesterday issued a statement confirming that the Navy officer in question was not the one who lobbed a grenade at the Victory Monument protest site. Pol General Ek Angsananont, deputy national police chief, also denied that police had distributed the naval officer’s photograph along with the arrest warrant for the bomb suspect.

Checkpoints, jointly manned by police and soldiers, have been set up as part of increased security after a series of attacks targeting protesters and their leaders.

National police chief Adul Sangsingkaew has ordered the setting up of checkpoints and day patrols, CAPO deputy spokesman Pol Maj-General Anucha Romayanant said.

Anucha said the checkpoints would focus on foiling attempts to smuggle weapons into protest areas, adding that the authorities were also working with protest leaders to boost security measures.

Adul also dismissed reports of a conflict between police and the military officers involved in the anti-government rally, which has continued for over two months.

Since December 26, four people have been killed and more than 260 injured in several attacks by unknown assailants, with grenade attacks on Friday and Sunday.

Metropolitan Police officer Pol Colonel Choosak Techarakpong inspected the Victory Monument protest site – which has been targeted several times – with People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) guards to help set up checkpoints. Choosak said uniformed police officers would be sent to maintain security at the protest site and that four checkpoints would be set up around the venue.

He added that up to 40 police would man each checkpoint and as many as 20 would patrol the rally site during the day.

Medical chief warns of more clashes
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Four people have died and 267 injured from politics-related violence in less than a month and the risk of more bloody incidents is rising, the Public Health Ministry said yesterday.

“Earlier, unidentified groups used to attack at around 3am, but not anymore, which suggests that such attacks might happen at any time and anywhere in the protest sites,” Dr Narong Apikulvanich said yesterday, in his capacity as head of the medical centre for cases related to political rallies.

He was referring to incidents that have taken place between December 26 and January 19.

Narong said these incidents could be categorised as follows: fights over a certain area between protesters and officials; clashes between people with different ideology; and attacks by unidentified groups.

“Now, the risk is present at all protest sites,” Narong said.

The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has been staging massive rallies against the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

‘Keep victims safe’

Narong said he hoped PDRC guards would prepare safe zones for the transfer of victims in case more violence erupts. As of press time, 29 of the 267 injured were still in hospital.

Medical Services Department (MDS) deputy director general Dr Prapon Tangsrikertikul confirmed that bomb attacks at the Victory Monument rally site on Sunday had injured 28 people, six of whom are still being treated at Rajavithi Hospital, three at Ramathibodi Hospital, and two at Phra Mongkutklao Hospital.

Dr Udom Chaovarindr, director of Rajavithi Hospital, said four of the six victims at his hospital had sustained serious injuries. “These four victims have undergone surgery, with one patient requiring brain surgery,” he said.

Meanwhile, Narong said his centre had prepared nine paramedic teams and 30 rescue-worker teams for protest zones.

“While some teams are based at major protest sites, others have been given the task of accompanying protest marches,” he said.

He added that hospitals in Bangkok’s adjacent provinces had also been instructed to make preparations for emergency.

“In some cases, it may not be possible for the victims to be sent to hospitals in Bangkok,” he explained.

Public Health permanent secretary Narong Sahametapat said he had ordered heath offices in 18 provinces, where rallies are continuing, to get medical teams ready for possible medical emergencies.

“There are political rallies and farmers’ rallies going on. So, medical teams need to monitor the situation closely,” Narong said.

Many state offices shut down by protests in the South
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Protesters continue to lay siege to provincial halls, plus district offices and health offices in provinces throughout the South. They have called for state officials to stop work after the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) chief Suthep Thaugsuban ordered that the anti-government campaign be stepped up.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat: No officials were at work at the provincial hall after the PDRC rallied and called for state workers to cease working.

Officials at every state agency threw their support behind the campaign by closing operations. Of 23 district offices,

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Facebook, Twitter may face charges for allegedly allowing lèse majesté content

Caitlin Ashworth

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Facebook, Twitter may face charges for allegedly allowing lèse majesté content | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Standard

Facebook and Twitter could face charges for failing to block so called lèse majesté posts that allegedly violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society says the social media platforms were warned about Thailand’s laws regarding content that insults the Thai Monarchy or threatens national security and peace, but failed to remove all the illegal posts.

Letters were sent out to the operators of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube giving them 15 days to take down the illegal posts or charges would be pressed, according to Minister of Digital Economy and Society Buddhipongse Punnakanta. Since not all the posts were removed, the ministry has asked the Technology Crime Suppression Police to step in and prosecute the social media platforms.

The Thai government has been using the blunt tool of “shooting the messenger” in its battle against content deemed disrespectful of the Thai Monarchy under its lèse majesté laws.

“It is the first time in Thailand that the (computer crime) law is exercised to prosecute the service providers. Charges will go to the parent company of all the organisations. The police will use Thai laws because the offences happened in Thailand. I believe the police can do it.”

The minister says Facebook was told to take down 661 posts, but they only removed 225. Twitter was told to remove 69 posts, he says, but only took down 5. YouTube was told to remove 289 posts and all of them were blocked. Social media platforms that violate the Computer Crime Act could face an up to 200,000 baht fine per illegal post and a daily fine of up to 5,000 until the content is removed.

Buddhipongse filed the complaint which also cited nearly 1,000 social media posts that allegedly violate the act. They say the posts offending the Thai Monarchy were made during the pro-democracy protest in Bangkok last weekend.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty, sealing Burmese border, Thai airways creditors | September 24

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Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty, sealing Burmese border, Thai airways creditors | September 24 | The Thaiger

Latest update for September 26 deadline of visa amnesty.

Deadline set for THAI creditors

A date has now been set for creditors to recover their money from Thai Airways. Applications for debt repayment through corporate bonds started yesterday. Applications filed by private individuals are being received at the Securities and Exchange Commission office in Bangkok. The deadline for applications is November 2. It’s ben reported that there are some 10 million creditors. The airline’s total debt stands at 352.4 billion baht.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases. Between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days, have tested positive for Covid-19. The DDC’s director-general says that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Burmese people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.” Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases. In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally.

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says former immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, shouldn’t assume his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office was unlawful. Surachate, known by the nickname “Big Joke” headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha early last year. It’s understood he is now planning to sue the PM, claiming that the lack of any investigation against him shows there were no grounds for the transfer. For his part, Deputy PM Wissanu says Surachate has the right to sue the PM if he so wishes but shouldn’t assume his transfer is similar to that of the former National Security Council chief, who was transferred under former PM Yingluck Shinawatra in 2011. That transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court. Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

New army chief declares he’ll protect Thailand’s monarchy and restore peace

Thailand’s new army chief says he pledges to restore peace and protect the country’s monarchy. In a ceremony formerly saying farewell to retiring generals, incoming army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae (jit-gow-tear) said he would restore peace and be loyal to the Thai Monarchy. His statement comes at a time when many people are speaking out against Thailand’s military-run government, and calling for changes to the constitution (voted for by referendum in 2017). He said… “Protecting the monarchy with absolute loyalty and supporting the government to resolve national problems and working to advance the country are tasks for which the generals deserve the honour.”

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s ownership of the land. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has faced flak online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews as a consequence, after he criticised one of the student anti-government protest leaders. Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as the travel review website has been flooded with negative reviews.

Bangkok officials issue advice to motorists to avoid parliament area due to protest

Bangkok motorists have been told avoid the roads around Thailand’s new parliament building today, with a political rally taking place there as we speak. The rally was announced by anti-government protesters at the end of their weekend demonstration. The Metropolitan Police Bureau advise drivers to avoid Kiak Kai Road, in front of the parliament building, as well as a number of other roads in the vicinity. The Thaiger will bring you some of the latest vision from the protest this afternoon which you can watch on our Facebook page with a full report on tomorrow’s Thailand News Today.

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982 lèse majesté social media posts cited in police complaint

Caitlin Ashworth

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982 lèse majesté social media posts cited in police complaint | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

Nearly 1,000 so called lèse majesté posts on social media have been cited in a police complaint for allegedly violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, some allegedly criticising and insulting the Thai Monarchy. The complaints were filed by Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta.

The police report says the social media posts were shared during the pro-democracy protest over the weekend. Altogether, 982 social media posts allegedly violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act. The ministry has also applied for a warrant to block content on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at violate the act.

In Thailand, lèse majesté (insulting the monarch) is criminalised by Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code… Since 2018, there have been no known new (lèse majesté) cases, but the authorities have invoked other laws, such as the Computer Crimes Act and sedition laws, to deal with perceived damages and insults to the monarchy. – Wikipedia

The complaints and subsequent legal threats, are a rear-guard action by a government and officialdom rattled by the number of protesters and by the extent of their demands, touching on the culturally taboo topic of Thailand’s revered monarchy. Another protest is on today at the front of the Thai parliament in Bangkok.

Out of the 982 posts, 661 were on Facebook, 289 were on YouTube, 69 were on Twitter and 5 were on other websites. Buddhipongse says 2 Facebook posts and 3 Instagram posts violate an Article 14 in the Computer Crime Act which regards posts that many cause damage to the country’s national security or cause a public panic. Those who violate Article 14 face up to 5 years in prison and an up to 100,000 baht.

Social media platforms could also face charges for violating the act’s Article 27 for failing to comply with orders from the court to take down the posts. They could face a fine up to 200,000 baht and a daily fine of 5,000 until the posts are taken down.

Other posts allegedly violate the act’s Article 20 which prohibits the spread of information online that might have an impact on national security, or that might be contradictory to the peace. The Nation Thailand says each post that violates Article 20 could face a 200,000 baht fine.

Click HERE to read an unofficial English translation of the Computer Crime Act.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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