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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: EC calls to reconsider election date; Yingluck accused of using state funds; DSI to press sedition charges against PDRC

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

Reconsider poll date: EC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Election Commission yesterday appealed for cooling-off period out of fears that the wrangling over when the snap election should be held could lead to an escalation in unrest and a dispute over the poll results.

“The Election Commission views that the best way for improving the current situation is for all sides to reconcile and reduce their demands to a level that can be acceptable to all. There is no loser or winner, but it will be a way out for Thailand,” the five new commissioners said in a statement yesterday.

They also urged a reconsideration of the February 2 election date, saying it should not be allowed to “limit the possibility for Thais to reach reconciliation”.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn told the EC’s press conference that the agency found that in the current situation, it would be difficult to hold a trouble-free election.

“It has been widely agreed that there could be a disturbance because this is not a normal situation,” he said.

The remark came as the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which has been protesting against the caretaker government for more than six weeks and is demanding postponement of the election until political reform is completed, led another march in Bangkok that drew several thousands of supporters.

Somchai suggested that mediators facilitate negotiations between the government and the PDRC on whether the February 2 election should go ahead.

If there are no talks and the February 2 date is confirmed, the EC would do its best to hold the election, he said.

“But we expect considerable problems during the election,” he said.

According to the law, the election can be rescheduled, he said.

“If the two sides agree that the election does not have to be held on February 2, the legal officials of the government must find a way to postpone it and the EC will be ready to organise it accordingly,” he added.

Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the PDRC, reiterated that balloting without reforming the country first would allow the return of the ” Thaksin regime,” which he said has corrupted Thai politics for years.

Although the EC said postponement of the election was possible, delaying it for a few months was insufficient for the reform process, he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she would still stick to the original election date but the law should be taken into consideration if postponement is inevitable.

Ruling Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan said he had received Yingluck’s documents for party-list MP candidacy and is still waiting for her photograph.

He said Yingluck would make an appearance to offer moral support when her party submits its party-list MP applications on Monday.

He said he had not heard reports that Yaowapa Wongsawat, a former MP for Chiang Mai and Yingluck’s sister, would not run in the February 2 general election and that Panthongtae Shinawatra, Yingluck’s nephew, would take her place.

If the PDRC tried to block Pheu Thai’s party-list MP filing on Monday, he would invite the foreign media to tell the world how the anti-government protesters do not respect the royal election decree and democracy by obstructing the election process.

The caretaker prime minister will return to Bangkok on an Army plane from her inspection tour of the Northeast this morning to chair a meeting of the Defence Council at the Army Club at 9.30am and to tape her New Year’s greeting to Thais, a Government House source said.

Afterwards she would fly back to the Northeast and resume her trip, the source said.

Yingluck’s eyes brimmed with tears as her supporters in the northeastern province of Roi Et chanted to boost her spirits in a traditional welcoming ceremony known as Bai Sri Su Kwuan.

About 20,000 government supporters gathered at Bung Planchai, where Yingluck presided at the opening of a traditional handicrafts fair. Some 100 anti-government protesters also turned up to blow whistles in a symbolic gesture of opposition under a heavy security guard of 1,200 officials.

After the chief Brahmin conducted a rite to boost her kwuan (spirits), which are believed to protect and take care of her, thousands of people chanted three times to give Yingluck moral support. The PM’s eyes welled up after she heard the cheers.

The Thai Journalists Association, Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand also issued a statement expressing concern about the upcoming election.

Under these circumstances, the election might not lead the country out of conflict but might drive a deeper divide in society. A process was needed to build mutual understanding and ensure the rules were accepted by all sides, the statement said.

All sides must join to push for reform in all respects to uproot the underlying causes of the conflicts. It is important to begin the process as soon as possible. Reform of some areas such as anti-corruption must start right away, the statement said.

The caretaker government must keep the peace in the country by using the laws straightforwardly and must not abuse its power. It must not do anything directly or indirectly that could possibly cause losses or violence, the media statement said, adding that the PDRC protesters must also demonstrate peacefully without resorting to violence.

Besides using the masses to pressure the government, the PDRC should consider dialoguing as another way to seek solutions.

Yingluck using state funds to woo voters: Dems
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Democrat Party yesterday demanded that caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra step down by Sunday, as it accused her of using state funds to boost her popularity in the North and Northeast and campaign for votes for the February 2 election.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said she was putting other political parties at a disadvantage by using the state funds and resources at her disposal to visit provinces and campaign for votes.

“By doing that, she can win the hearts of people in the North and Northeast, but people in the South cannot accept her behaviour and see her running away from problems,” he said, adding that the People’s Democratic Reform Committee would stage a mass rally on Sunday.

“We don’t want to see civil unrest, so she has 48 hours to contribute to the country by stepping down,’ he said.

The Democrat Party has asked its 180 provincial branches to seek their constituents’ opinions about whether the party should boycott the February 2 election. Chavanond said the party would call a meeting tomorrow to make a final decision on the matter.

Meanwhile, former Democrat deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot (@alongkornpb) tweeted that he was sticking with the Democrat Party after rumours were heard that he was planning to defect to Chart Thai Pattana for not being elected as a party executive.

Former Democrat party-list MP Boonyod Suktinthai, meanwhile, said he would gather evidence of wrongdoings by permanent officials who may abuse their power by serving politicians in the government camp during the election campaign. He also warned the TV Pool of Thailand against using media coverage for political interests.

He said he would file formal complaints with the Elect

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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