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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Critic’s Facebook page suspended; Amnesty International raises concerns; Hidden agenda to privatise GPO

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

Critic’s Facebook page suspended; cartoonist ‘ignores’ summonses
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Thammasat University academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s Facebook account has been suspended for 30 days, leading to widespread criticism on social media.

Facebook user Phakjira Slk, claiming to have been asked by Somsak, posted a message on the academic’s page saying the account had been suspended on Wednesday morning because he allegedly criticised Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for suing Thai Rath cartoonist Chai Rachawat.

“I want to confirm that I am against Yingluck for filing the lawsuit against Chai Rachawat. This lawsuit is in contradiction to the spirit of democracy,” is the message Somsak posted on his page. He also said that the libel lawsuit was a waste of public money.

Many of his supporters spread the message widely on social media, though some said they were glad his access to Facebook had been blocked.

In the message via Phakjira Slk, Somsak said his account had been suspended because somebody had reported him as having violated Facebook’s terms and conditions, adding that he was afraid he would be framed again if he were to register for a new page.

Meanwhile, the cartoonist has not responded to police summonses after Yingluck sued him for libel, deputy director of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Maj-General Anuchai Lekbamrung said yesterday.

Anuchai said the Metropolitan Investigation Committee had issued a summonses on Wednesday for Somchai Katanyutanan, or Chai Rachawat, to report on June 5 for further questioning and acknowledging the allegations.

The allegations of insulting government official on duty, commercial libel and violation of the Computer Act compel the cartoonist to report to the investigation committee. If he fails to show up on two occasions, the committee will be forced to seek an arrest warrant for him.

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Human rights agency raises concerns
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Millions of refugees and migrants have ended up as forced labour because many countries do not give them legal protection, Amnesty International said.

In its 2013 report, the agency raised concerns about many human-rights issues, some of which are related to Thailand.

The report pointed out that asylum-seekers in Thailand continued to face the risk of arrest and detention as well as forced return to their country, where they are at the risk of persecution.

Following discussions with the Myanmar government, Thailand’s National Security Council indicated that the 146,900 Myanmar refugees in Thailand could return home within a year, despite reports of continued instability in ethnic areas and the lack of protection to facilitate a safe return. Documented and undocumented migrant workers were also threatened with deportation in December for failure to complete the national verification process.

Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, Amnesty International Thailand’s executive director, also lamented the ongoing unrest in the deep South where civilians are at constant risk. Teachers, viewed as symbols of the state, have been targeted, resulting in school closures during the latter part of 2012.

Amnesty International also slammed the use of the emergency decree in the South, saying it allowed immunity to officials who might have committed human-rights violations such as torture. According to the agency, insurgency leaders have accused security forces of extrajudicial executions in Yala. On the freedom of expression, the agency said citizens’ freedom of expression continue to be curtailed, primarily through the lese majeste law and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

Keep checking our Thailand News pages for the latest updates, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter for the latest local, national and international news.

Hidden agenda to privatise GPO: Wichai
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The dismissal of Dr Witit Artavatkun, chief of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, occurred due to political intervention with the hidden agenda to privatise the organisation, ex-GPO board chairman Dr Wichai Chokewiwat alleged.

“The end of good governance practised at the GPO is next, before a possible privatisation,” he added.

Citing an interview by the unnamed head of a network of the state-enterprise unions, Wichai said Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawan-arong once asked this person: “If I want to privatise GPO, would you oppose it?”

The GPO’s principle function – serving the public as the state’s pharmaceutical producer – would be dropped and replaced by a profit-driven agenda, after privatisation.

“A privatised GPO would no longer be able to produce cheap medicines for public use, but would pave the way for foreign firms to produce medicines at a much higher cost,” he said.

Citing his five-year tenure as head of the GPO board, Wichai said the organisation should remain a state enterprise. He defended his own decision to dismiss a former GPO chief, Dr Mongkhol Jiwasantikarn, saying the process was transparent and the factors prompting Mongkhol’s removal were fair and based on legal criteria.

“Political influence on state agencies and officials today is so powerful that it causes senior officials to lie. That way they feel they are not forced to make decisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, head of the Rural Doctors Society, Dr Kriengsak Vacharanukulkieti, denied that the society was behind a rally planned by kidney patients demanding the dismissal of Pradit. A large group of protesters are planning to rally outside PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s home next week to protest against the government’s planned co-payment scheme.

Keep checking our Thailand News pages for the latest updates, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter for the latest local, national and international news.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Myanmar

Former pageant queen in Myanmar sides with ethnic armies opposing military coup

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Htar Htet Htet

A former pageant queen Htar Htet Htet has been vocal about her opposition to the military takeover in her home country, Myanmar. But recently, she took her stance even farther by posting a photo of herself in a black combat outfit with an assault rifle, showing support for the ethnic armies fighting against the state military.

The Myanmar military took over the civilian government in February, ousting the state counsellor who had won the election in a landslide. Since then around 750 people have been killed by security forces.

Ethnic armies that occupy border regions have opposed the military takeover, including the prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union. Recently, Karen troops attacked and took over a state military outpost near the Thai border. Around 2,000 people have fled to Thailand to escape the violence.

The 32 year old, who represented Mynamar in the 2013 Miss Grand International pageant in Thailand, wrote on Facebook saying “the time has come to fight back.”

“Whether you hold a weapon, pen, keyboard or donate money to the pro-democracy movement, everyone must do their bit for the revolution to succeed.

I will fight back as much as I can. I am ready and prepared to give up everything. I am even ready to pay with my life.”

Former pageant queen in Myanmar sides with ethnic armies opposing military coup | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Bangkok

More than 2,000 inmates in Bangkok test positive for Covid-19

Tanutam Thawan

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Bangkok Remand Prison / Google

More than 2,000 inmates at the Bangkok Remand Prison and at the Women’s Correctional Institution have tested positive for Covid-19. The announcement from the Department of Corrections follows the recent news that a protest leader tested positive for Covid-19 after spending 8 weeks in jail awaiting trial for lese majeste charges.

Pro-democracy activist Panusya “Rung” Sithijirawattanaku made a post on Facebook saying she tested positive for Covid-19. She had been held in the Women’s Correctional Institution for 59 days and was released on bail on May 6.

The Department of Corrections says 2,835 inmates have tested positive for the virus including 1,795 at Bangkok Remand Prison, making up more than half the prison population. A source told the Bangkok Post there is a total of 3,238 inmates at the prison.

The other 1,040 infections are inmates at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution. The prison has a population of 4,518 inmates.

Those with severe symptoms are admitted to hospitals outside the prison while the other infected inmates are being treated at field hospitals set up at the prisons or at the Corrections Hospital, according to Corrections Department director-general Aryut Sinthoppan.

“The Corrections Department has ordered all correctional facilities to set up an area for quarantine and a field hospital, with doctors and nurses on duty to provide treatment for the infected inmates… We also plan to inoculate all detainees. We are only waiting for an allocation of vaccines from relevant agencies.”

Aryut says those at high risk of infection are now in quarantine. New inmates are in quarantine for 21 days and must test negative for Covid-19 twice before being released to the general prison population.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways decision, Covid Update, farmer hit by lightning | May 12

Tanutam Thawan

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34 Covid-related deaths reported today, today is a big day in the long-running Thai Airways saga, with 13,000 creditors voting on whether or not to accept the struggling airline’s rehabilitation plan, An unfortunate farmer has been struck and killed by lightning in his rice field in the Phon Sawan district of Nakhon Phanom, British activist Andy Hall has been finally cleared of the last pending charge and anti-government protest leader has finally been granted bail after 10 requests

 

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