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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

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Phuket Gazette Thailand News: EC calls to reconsider election date; Yingluck accused of using state funds; DSI to press sedition charges against PDRC | The Thaiger
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– 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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth



Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.


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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth



MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.


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