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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Bangkok readies for ‘final day’ protests; Democrats resign, Yingluck requests to dissolve Parliament

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
โ€“ Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Democrat MPs quit House
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
UPDATE: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday sought royal approval for House dissolution. She said in a press conference at 8:42am that the dissolution is a democratic way.

PHUKET: The opposition Democrat Party yesterday unanimously resolved that all of its remaining 152 MPs would resign and join today’s mass rally against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, which is to be held throughout Bangkok.

Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said at a party press conference yesterday: “We will fight as Thai citizens tomorrow”.

Abhisit said the Opposition decided to quit as it wanted to help the country find a solution to the current political problems. He said the problems are spiralling towards a crisis, as antigovernment protesters are stepping up their campaign against what he described as an illegitimate government.

Explaining the reasons for the mass resignation, he said it was a gesture to demonstrate that the government had lost legitimacy when it rejected the Constitutional Court’s ruling on charter-amendment legislation and issued illegal resolutions that ran against the public’s feelings.

“Since the House and the government have lost legitimacy, it must return sovereignty to the people,” he said.

He said the Democrat MPs had done their parliamentary duties as best as they could by checking the government, but it lacked a conscience and sense of responsibility.

There were originally 161 Democrat MPs, but nine earlier resigned to lead the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). The movement’s secretary-general is former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban.

The Democrats’ resignations from Parliament came ahead of today’s planned mass anti-government march to Government House, which is intended to mark Suthep’s “final day of battle”. The resignations allow the MPs, including Abhisit and party chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, to join the rally today without worrying about the legal consequences for the party. By resigning they protect the Democrat Party from the possibility of dissolution stemming from any protest actions they might take.

However, by resigning they also lose immunity from prosecution. On December 12, Abhisit and Suthep are scheduled to acknowledge an indictment over their handling of the crackdown on the 2010 red-shirt protests in Bangkok.

The decision came after a five-hour party meeting. A party source said the Democrats estimate more people will join in laying siege to Government House than responded to Suthep’s call to a first “day of battle” on November 24.

The resignations are also aimed at putting pressure on the Yingluck government to step down. The resignations of the 152 Democrat MPs leave 339 MPs in Parliament.

The source said that if Yingluck called a House dissolution, the Democrats would run in the next election. They were aware that Suthep’s demands would be difficult to realise, the source added. Suthep has called for the establishment of a People’s Council and for an unelected prime minister.

“We hope the formula of the next coalition [following the election] would be different from the current one,” the source said.

Protesters at the major anti-government rally site at Democracy Monument welcomed the news after a rally spokesman announced the decision on the stage. As instructed by the PDRC, the protesters will lay siege to Government House today.

Meanwhile, a senior Army officer, who asked not to be named, said yesterday he hoped there would not be any violence at today’s major rally. “Everyone on every side must calm down and stay in their places and find a way to talk peacefully,” he said. He said the Army would do its best for the country, adding that every non-partisan Thai should urge all sides to end their political conflict.

He said people should try not to sway the Army to take either Suthep or the government’s side. “We are officers for the nation, the people and the monarchy,” he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday she was ready to dissolve the House and hold a national election within 60 days as stipulated under the law, to be held under fair rules, if that is what the majority of people wanted.

In a special televised programme, she insisted that the protesters’ demands that a People’s Council be set up and a royally appointed prime minister installed were not allowed under the Constitution, and that the proposals were still a source of debate among academics.

“The protest leaders’ demand for a People’s Council is unconstitutional. I cannot meet their demand. But I am willing to hold a referendum on a People’s Council to see whether the majority of Thais agree with this proposal,” she said.

“However if the protesters and the big political parties do not accept [my offers to step down or dissolve the House], or do not accept the results of the election, the political crisis will certainly be prolonged. This could be compared to the political situation in 2006, when a political party boycotted a national election, which resulted in a political vacuum and eventually a coup d’etat,” Yingluck said.

The premier was apparently referring to the Democrat Party’s boycott of national elections in that year.

She was speaking a day before a massive rally led by Suthep was due to be staged against her government in Bangkok.

The government proposed setting up a forum to discuss the protesters’ demands, Yingluck said.

“However, if the conflicts cannot be settled, I propose that a public referendum be held to allow all people to decide,” she said. “All political parties and protesters would accept the results of the public referendum, so that all conflicts are solved.”

Akanat Prompan, a PDRC spokesperson, later issued a four-point counter-statement in response to Yingluck, asking that she stop putting the blame on the people, and adding that her statement contained nothing new and was aimed at buying time for her government.

“Yingluck has not apologised to the public for her government’s failures and all the problems it has caused,” he said.

The Pheu Thai-led government and the Pheu Thai-dominated Parliament have no legitimacy or authority following the landmark Constitutional Court ruling dismissing charter-amendment legislation relating to candidates’ qualifications in future senatorial elections, Akanat said. Yingluck’s proposal for a public referendum on the PDRC-proposed establishment of the so-called People’s Council was a result of the mass street protests against her government led by the PDRC, the spokesman said.

He insisted that the PDRC-led marches today would be peaceful and that all protesters would be unarmed, with the foreign and Thai media observing this.

Rooftop security to be stepped up
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police will step up security at key government agencies and deploy officers on rooftops around rally sites today to prevent incidents by third parties wanting to incite violence, a deputy police chief said yesterday.

Deputy Police Commissioner Pol Gen Worapong Chiewpreecha, deputy director of the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), said police and troops were being deployed to guard key government offices such as Government House and Parliament.

He said officers would also be deployed on high-ri

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Family sues prime minister, CCSA after Covid-infected relative dies

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo from Kunlasub Wattnaphon's Facebook.

The family of a man who died while infected with Covid-19 is demanding the prime minister, as well as other government officials, pay millions of baht in compensation, citing “negligence” after calls to Covid-19 hotlines went unanswered or were not of help.

35 year old Kunlasub Watthanaphon died on April 23. Kunlasub is said to have contracted the virus from a cluster in Bangkok. Many of the clusters of infections early in the recent outbreak were concentrated in nightlife districts in Bangkok including Thong Lor and Ekkamai.

When Kunlasub developed Covid-19 symptoms, he called the hotline numbers for those who think they make have contracted the virus. If he had received proper treatment quicker, the family says he might still be alive.

“The CCSA announced telephone helplines โ€“ 1330, 1422, 1668, 1669 and 1323 โ€“ for people who suspected they had contracted Covid-19. When my brother developed Covid-like symptoms he called these numbers. However, they were either busy or someone picked up but did not send help right away.”

Kunlasub had documented his illness on Facebook, posting updates, as well as photos and videos, up until the day of his death.

The death of the 35 year old man, who is well known in the esport, or video competition industry, sparked controversy. One person wrote on Facebook after Kunlasub’s death “My friend didn’t die because of a congenital disease. He died because he wasn’t treated in the early days.”

The case was filed at the Administrative Court today. It demands compensation of 4.53 million baht from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration as well as PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, his secretary and the prime minister’s office.

The family is also suing Thong Lor entertainment venues, where the first clusters were reported in the recent outbreak, for negligence.

โ€œHad the CCSA imposed a strict lockdown on entertainment venues and banned travel during the Songkran holiday, the latest wave of Covid-19 with over 2,000 new infections daily would never have happened.โ€

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | 8 clusters in Bangkok, Phuket party organisers charged | May 14

Tanutam Thawan

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Foreigners may face a slight delay in receiving their Covid-19 vaccines, The BMA has now confirmed 8 clusters of Covid infection in the capital, Thai Private Hospital Association is now working to offer a variety of Covid-19 vaccine brands to Thais and Patong police have announced that the managers of the Phuket venues that hosted the Kolour entertainment event swill be charged under Thailandโ€™s Emergency Decree provisions.

 

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Economy

Market down as good US economy drives interest rate fears

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Thai stock market followed the rest of the world down yesterday, but long-term prospects may be looking up.

After US inflation exceeded targets and increased 4%, global stock markets including Thailand plummeted yesterday with fears of rising interest rates. Almost 144 billion baht was traded yesterday with the market at one point diving down 70 points in the late afternoon before recovering to a 23.72 point loss, closing at 1548.13.

2% is a high rate of inflation so the big numbers sparked fears that the US Federal Reserve will reduce quantitative easing and increase interest rate which decreases the market’s liquidity. The US economy is surging with the Consumer Price Index up 4.2% over last year.

The balancing out of the economy will likely push risky prospects like the stock market down while driving up commodity prices like energy and oil. This may hurt the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the short run, but will likely have long-term positive effects as the SET has a large number of energy stocks that will benefit from the market’s change.

Some long-term investors in Thailand fear quantitative easing and the market’s tightening because it drives away foreign investors which in the past made up 30% of the Thai market. But now foreigners only account for 20% so the negative effect should be much less. However, in the normal inflation range of 1 to 3%, the stock market should have a price-to-earnings ratio of 20 and some experts have downgraded it to 18 now.

Eyeing the US, some experts predict that even accelerated quantitative easing won’t come into effect until the end of the year and interest rates probably won’t rise significantly within the next 2 years. Watching the continued effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and US unemployment figures will be key indicators driving the global market up or down.

Even with the stock market down in Thailand, there’s still some good news as Thai corporations listed on the SET expected to cross the 200 billion baht profit threshold this week, after reporting 180 billion baht in the first quarter of the year, with 55% of the market recording a profit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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