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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Court may rule election unlawful; Military reshuffle today; Oil spill in Chon Buri; Hail in Loei

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Court may rule election unlawful; Military reshuffle today; Oil spill in Chon Buri; Hail in Loei | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Ruling on poll could ease crisis
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A political breakthrough could happen this week with the Constitutional Court may rule on whether the February 2 poll was unlawful, and the possibility of a verdict annulling the election.

A petition requesting the Constitutional Court to rule on the validity of the poll was forwarded by the Ombudsman on behalf of Thammasat University’s law lecturer, Kittipong Kamolthamwong, who claimed the election process was flawed because it was unfair.

The court is scheduled on Wednesday to hear the case, with the Election Commissioners, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the chief of Office of the Ombudsman, or their respective representatives, set to appear.

The Democrat Party expects the court to annul the election.

“If the verdict goes as we expect, it could be a starting point for both sides to hold negotiations to end the crisis,” a key Democrat member said.

He said if the poll was nullified, the caretaker government and the EC would need to set a new election date and urge the Democrats to participate.

“But the only condition we have is the government has to resign as caretaker,” he said.

“So the best way out is for Yingluck to resign to pave the way for a non-elected or neutral person to head the government and take care of the election.”

After the election, the Democrat said the new government would initiate national reforms before dissolving the House and hold another election.

He said this solution would be acceptable to Pheu Thai if they thought they would win the election again.

However, he said his prediction hinged on the court verdict and the talks between the two sides.

A source from Pheu Thai echoed the same forecast.

He said he had heard that the court was likely to nullify the election on Wednesday and pave the way for a non-elected government.

However, a source from the charter court said the court had yet to decide if the ruling would be made on the same day as the hearing. However, if the judges thought they had all the facts, they might make a ruling on the same day.

In a previous case relating to the February 2 election that followed the filing of a petition by the EC, the charter court issued its ruling after three days.

The court had previously accepted another petition related to the general election filed by the EC.

One of the queries raised by the EC was whether a new Royal Decree would need to be issued for only the 28 constituencies that did not have candidates or for all constituencies.

If the court rules that a Royal Decree is needed for all the constituencies, then a new general election will be needed.

The court may include the EC petition in the Ombudsman’s case.

Meanwhile, six independent agencies under the Constitution will present a road map and attempt to mediate between both sides of the political divide today.

The six agencies are the EC, the Office of the Ombudsman, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Office of the Auditor-General, the National Human Rights Commission, and the National Economic and Social Advisory Council.

Red shirt co-leader Weng Tojirakarn voiced concerns over the move by the six organisations, saying it could worsen the political crisis or it could be a move to use judicial activism to topple the government.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said he had doubts that the move would lead to a non-elected prime minister.

Military reshuffle expected today
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The outspoken Naval Special Warfare Command chief and a senior Army officer whose promotion was suspended because he was tied to a violent clash with the red-shirts four years ago may be highlights of the mid-year military reshuffle. The reshuffle, which will take effect next month, is expected to be announced today.

The first involves the transfer of Rear Admiral Winai Klom-in, chief of the Naval Special Warfare Command, or Navy Seals.

Sources and earlier reports had stated that Winai will definitely be removed. Anti-government protest groups have petitioned Navy Commander in Chief Admiral Narong Pipatanasai to block the move, but Winai looks set to be kicked upstairs.

However, it is expected that the controversy surrounding Winai’s transfer will die down promptly because he will be promoted to be a vice admiral, although he will also be given an inactive post as a special adviser to the Royal Thai Navy.

Permanent secretary for Defence General Nipat Thonglek said that Winai had overstepped the mark |for military officers by giving interviews in regard to the political |conflict, so he needed to be transferred. Either way, the length of time Winai has been in his post – three years and six months – justifies the transfer.

The second highlight will see First Army Corps Commander Lt General Walit Rojanaphakdee become the Fourth Army Area commander, according to well-informed sources.

The current chief of the Fourth Army Area, Lt Gen Sakol Chuenptrakul, will retire at the end of September, so he will be moved to a position where he becomes a full general before his retirement.

Walit is a younger friend of Army Commander in Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha from the Eastern Tigers faction.

Walit reportedly missed two previous chances to become the commander of the First Army Area because of strong opposition from the red shirts.

The reds opposed Walit being promoted because he commanded the Second Infantry Division, which was involved in a bitter deadly clash with red-shirt protesters at Khok Wua Intersection on April 10, |2010.

During the operation, he was injured in a grenade attack and his close aide, Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, was killed.

According to sources, Prayuth now has the chance to promote his friend to the post of Fourth Army Area commander in the south.

The upcoming mid-year reshuffle will see commanders of the four armed forces transfer close aides and favoured officers to key positions to use them to support of their chosen successors in the annual reshuffle at the end of September.

This year will see all the four commanders-in-chief retire at the same time.

But sources said the Army will remain a thorn in the side of the Pheu Thai-led government after the mid-year reshuffle because Prayuth will put his men, or those close to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, in key combat command positions.

M79 grenade fired at house of Suthep’s wife
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Another M79 grenade was fired on Saturday night at the house of the wife of Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Srisakul Promphan posted a message on Facebook to say it was the second bomb attack on her Phutthamonthon home. She said the grenade on Saturday landed on the lawn near the dining room.

“I was at home when the grenade landed,” she said.

“I don’t know how many more grenades will be fired to satisfy them.

“But we will fight on. Although they want to ta

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Former party-list MP candidate convicted of drug smuggling, sentenced to 50 years in prison

Caitlin Ashworth

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Former party-list MP candidate convicted of drug smuggling, sentenced to 50 years in prison | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A former party-list MP candidate is sentenced to 50 years in prison for smuggling crystal methamphetamine. Suban Mahachanon was on the MP candidate list for Seri Ruam Thai Party in the March 2019 election, but his bid was unsuccessful. Just a few months later, he arrested for drug trafficking a large amount of methamphetamine into the Philippines.

Suban was busted when a fire broke out at Chon Buri’s Laem Chabang sea port, damagin shipping containers at the port. Police inspected the scene after the fire and found a container rented under Suban’s name was carrying 985 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in Emperor brand tea packages. The shipping container also had boxes of shoes and bags of chopsticks, all ready to be shipped out to the Philippines.

Police also arrested 3 other men involved in trafficking the methamphetamine. Along with sentencing Suban to 50 years in prison, the Criminal Court also sentenced 2 Chinese nationals, 25 year old Huang Guoxiong and 45 year old Zhou Qingchu, to life in prison and a Thai man, 62 year old Joi Sae Fong, to 50 years in prison.

At first, the Court sentenced the 2 Chinese men to death, but it was lowered to life in prison. The Bangkok Post says the 2 men were responsible for concealing the drugs and loading the container. The Thai man Joi, also rented the container under his name with Suban. Joi and Suban were initially sentenced to life in prison. Their sentences were reduced to 50 years in prison.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Rumours of amnesty extension, 22 new Covid cases | September 28

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Rumours of amnesty extension, 22 new Covid cases | September 28 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news and updates from around Thailand on The Thaiger and on Youtube at Thaiger TV.

22 new cases of Covid-19 detected in Thailand

Out of nowhere, the Thai government’s CCSA has reported 22 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours this morning, raising the country’s total of infections to 3,545.

22 cases is the largest number of daily cases announced in a 24 hour period since April 5 this year when Thailand was emerging from its first wave.

16 of the new cases have come from imported cases, and became apparent whilst they were in quarantine during routine tests. The people have arrived from South Sudan, 4 people from India, 1 from Pakistan and 1 from the Philippines.

Thai doctor warns about short-cuts in quarantine

Meanwhile, a doctor from the Faculty of Medicine at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University says reducing the quarantine period for foreign tourists would be inviting disaster.

Dr. Thira Woratanarat made his statement after a suggestion from the Tourism and Sports Minister that quarantine could be halved if all goes well when Thailand re-opens its borders to a limited number of foreign tourists.

“In Thailand, if we decide to follow the proposal to reduce the quarantine time to 7 days, it would be an invitation to disaster.”

Rumours of a new visa amnesty, up to October 31

Thai Immigration offices have been flooded with foreigners trying to find a last minute solution to stay in the country and figure their situation out before the end of the visa amnesty… September 26, last Saturday.

The end of the amnesty, allowing visitors with lapsed visas to remain in the country, put many in a difficult situation, especially after a warning from the government the people could face fines and jail time for overstaying. But foreigners could have 1 more month to figure it out.

The news will come as a massive annoyance to those who went through the hoops last week to meet the deadline, although many thousands simply failed to get an appointment or satisfy the extension requirements, or simply had no flights to leave the country.

The government estimated around 150,000 foreigners were living in the country on amnesty.

Now there’s an “unofficial” letter, on official Thai government letterhead, floating around, claiming that the visa amnesty will be extended until October 31. It’s said the letter is waiting to be signed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha which would then be published in the Royal Gazette. The letter title translates loosely as “extension for foreigners staying in Thailand”.

Meanwhile, The Phuket News is reporting that their local immigration office plans to start charging people with overstays from tomorrow.

There’s still a lot of confusion over the finish, or not, of the visa amnesty. We will bring you all the latest details, as soon as they come to hand, at thethaiger.com

“Boss” commission chief says Thai justice system in need of reform

Former National Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Vicha Mahakun, who led the recent inquiry into the handling of the case against Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, says Thailand’s justice system is in need of reform.

The Red Bull heir and grandson of co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya, “Boss”, stood accused in a 2012 hit-and-run case that caused the death of a 47 year old Bangkok police officer who was hit by Boss’s Ferrari and dragged over 100 metres, before the car fled the scene.

Boss was never brought to justice and is believed to be living outside Thailand, having managed to flee the Kingdom in 2017. Now, the chairman of the investigating panel says the whole Boss fiasco proves that Thailand’s legal system needs to be reformed. He says the decision to drop all charges in the case clearly came about as a result of systemic corruption in the ranks of Thailand’s police and judicial departments.

“Why was the case, that should have been closed within a year, delayed for 8 years? There’s a legal proverb ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. An attempt to delay it gives a clue.”

1,202 gambling websites to be blocked in Thailand

Thailand is cracking down on online gambling websites. Internet providers will have 15 days to block 1,202 gambling websites before charges are pressed for violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

Although gambling is technically illegal in Thailand, underground and online gambling thrives in pockets of the country. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry was ordered by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to crack down on illegal online gambling. The PM ordered the ministry to block the hundreds of gambling websites within the next 15 days. The ministry has requested 1,202 court warrants citing Computer Crime Act violations.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission is collaborating with the ministry to block access to the gambling websites. The strict order is aimed at keeping teenagers away from online gambling.

More rain fronts on the way around Thailand today and tomorrow

The Thailand Meteorological Department is forecasting more isolated heavy rain over many parts of the country over the next few days.

Last night there were heavy rains and flooding in parts of inner city Bangkok. Cars were stuck in knee-deep water and footpaths were inundated in several inner city suburbs, including Phra Khanong. Phuket also had a rough night of high winds and rain. For most of Thailand, the most rainfall is accumulated in September and October making them the wettest months. We have a special story about Thailand’s monsoon… the link is under here in the description.

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Crime

Teenagers allegedly fired guns into the air, stray bullet kills 16 year old girl

Caitlin Ashworth

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Teenagers allegedly fired guns into the air, stray bullet kills 16 year old girl | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

A 19 year old man faces charges of intent to murder for allegedly shooting and killing a teenage girl. The man told police he shot the gun in the sky and did not intend to harm anyone. The stray bullet went through the girl’s heart and also injured her friend.

16 year old Nutthicha Thanthaisong was riding home on a motorcycle from an event in the Isaan province Buriram while a group of teenagers were allegedly firing off guns. A bullet hit her back and exited through her heart, killing her. Her 19 year old friend driving the motorcycle was also injured by the bullet. Nation Thailand says he is being treated, but did not report on the details of his injury.

Police questioned 19 year old Natthakit Boonluea after receiving reports from 6 of the man’s friends saying he shot the teenage girl. Natthakit told police he shot the gun in the sky and did not aim it at the girl.

Police say they believe more people were shooting off guns and plan to question around 50 people that may have been involved in the shooting.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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