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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok rallies underway; Chamber warns of economic collapse; Child rapist killer gets life

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok rallies underway; Chamber warns of economic collapse; Child rapist killer gets life | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

PDRC mass rallies in Bangkok take hold
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The People’s Democratic Reform committee led by Suthep Thaugsuban march from Lumpini Park to the Royal Plaza and Parliament began this morning to affirm its stand that reform must be done before the next election.

By 8:30am, Leaders on the rally stage of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee inside the Lumpini Park started organising protesters into groups for the march. At 9:40am, Suthep Thaugsuban and his wife, Srisakul Promphan, arrived at the King Rama VI statue in front of the Lumpini Park. to pay respect to the King Rama VI statue.

Leaders urged protesters in front of the park start marching at 10am, with Suthep leading the main procession of protesters, who were divided into six groups.

By 10:30am, Suthep’s procession had reached the Rajprasong Intersection. Scenes from the Blue Sky channel show people crowd the intersection and the pedestrian flyovers around the area.

Govt should step aside to avoid economic collapse, warns commerce chamber
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Thai Chamber of Commerce has urged the caretaker government to suspend performing its duty to pave the way for negotiations before national reform and prevent the collapse of the economy.

The call yesterday came as pressure continued to build against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government.

Recent court rulings have been unfavourable to her administration and independent agencies are investigating allegations against the PM.

The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has called for another mass rally in Bangkok today in a bid to pile on the pressure. The group, which is campaigning to rid the country of the so-called Thaksin regime, has demanded that the PM and her cabinet resign and make way for national reform ahead of the next election.

Yingluck yesterday said she would not be “taking a break from politics” to reduce political pressure against her family. She said she was focused on how to get all the parties involved to agree to have a new election soon, after the Constitutional Court last week nullified the February 2 election. In that poll, protesters prevented candidates in 28 constituencies from registering, ensuring it could not be completed.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has accused the caretaker prime minister of dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to stop corruption in the government’s rice-pledging scheme. The anti-graft agency has given Yingluck until Monday to defend herself against the allegation. But she said the time given was too short and suggested that the NACC was treating her unfairly.

If the prime minister is formally indicted, she will have to suspend performing her duties.

Isara Vongkusolkij, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, said the private sector expected a new election and a new government soon in order to have a budget to help prop up the economy. He said the country needed a permanent government in place by the third quarter if gross domestic product were to expand by 2.5-3 per cent this year. But if it were later than that, growth was projected to be lower than 2.5 per cent.

Isara said exports and tourism were expected to be the main drivers of the economy, with help from border trade. He anticipated that a solution to the prolonged political unrest would be achieved soon, with a “neutral prime minister” in place and one-year national reform.

Thai Chamber of Commerce deputy secretary-general Pornsilp Phatcharintanakul said: “The government may pause operating to pave the way for negotiations and the national reform, which could be done within three months, while I expect the national conflicts cannot be eased this year.”

Given the national conflicts and not having a new government to deliver an investment promotion policy, Thailand has become less attractive to investors and some foreign companies that had manufacturing bases here have relocated to neighbouring countries such as Indonesia. Reportedly, some electronics companies and Japanese carmakers relocated their manufacturing bases to that country partly because of its larger population.

Pornsilp does not expect a new government to be formed until early next year. The country’s economy will recover in the third quarter of 2015. He said there was no new public investment at present, while the private sector was afraid to invest.

Pornsilp said export growth this year might be less than 5 per cent, as Thailand’s key trade partners are underperforming.

No Democrats at multi-party meeting on new election
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Some 53 political parties that ran in the February 2 election want a new poll to be held 45-60 days after the election’s nullification was announced in the Royal Gazette, Pheu Thai Party legal expert Bhokin Bhalakula said yesterday.

Speaking after a meeting of representatives from the political parties, Bhokin said the Election Commission (EC) and the government should discuss who would issue an election decree, which would amend the House dissolution decree issued earlier.

The EC should meet with the parties in early April, he said.

Yesterday’s meeting was held at the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Nakhon Pathom.

The Constitutional Court nullified the election on March 21. Bhokin said it had yet to be discussed who would be responsible for the cost of the election that has now been nullified and whether the parties that contested it must submit expense reports to the EC.

He said anyone who obstructed the election must face legal action.

Asked whether the parties still trusted the EC, Bhokin said: “We have to accept [the agency], anyway.”

It has been revealed that some Pheu Thai MP candidates were gathering signatures in an attempt to impeach EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn.

While key members of the Chart Thai Pattana, Chart Pattana and Phalang Chon parties attended the meeting, no representative from the Democrat Party was present.

Meeting coordinator Suratin Picharn, the leader of the New Democracy Party, said he invited all registered political parties and learnt that Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had been in an accident. He had understood that a deputy party leader would come instead, but no one showed up.

Yesterday was the first day of the Democrat Party’s two-day general assembly.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said the objective of yesterday’s multi-party meeting was to gather information for the EC so it could learn from the mistakes of the February 2 election.

“We insist that the election must go ahead. If the EC says it is not ready or it wants more time, we have yet to consider what to do with the EC,” he said.

“Today, we think only that there must be an election. Therefore, we have no thought about a back-up prime minister or ‘neutral PM’, because that’s the way of thinking of those who don’t support elections.”

Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, the top leader of the anti-

— 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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