Phuket Gazette Thailand News: EC prepares for new election; Red Shirts to rally April 5; Illegal loggers threaten last Siamese rosewood forest


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

EC starts preparing new general election
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Election Commission (EC) met Monday to prepare for a new general election after the Constitutional Court ruled Friday to annul the February 2 snap poll. The EC hoped to reach a conclusion on how to deal with the new election.

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It said earlier it would have to have alternatives before organising the election – whether to meet with the caretaker government for consultation, or to invite all political parties for talks to reach an agreement.

The Court voted six against three to nullify the snap election, compelling the EC to hold a new one. The EC claimed that the caretaker government will have to foot the expenses for the next polls since it refused to heed to the EC’s recommendation to postpone the unready balloting in relation to the Feb 2 date.

Meanwhile, members of the ruling Pheu Thai Party said they would dress in black to attend the party’s meeting tomorrow to show their dissatisfaction with the Constitution Court’s ruling.

The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee announced a Bangkok march from its Lumpini Park rally site to the Royal Plaza on Saturday to emphasise its demand for the appointment of an interim government to lead national reform before a general election is held.

Damages sought over dumpsite
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Lawyers Council will assist villagers affected by the Samut Prakan fire in filing civil and administrative lawsuits to demand compensation from the owner of the dump and five state agencies.

At least 500 households have signed a suit against the Praksa Tambon Administration Organisation president, Samut Prakan governor, provincial industry office, provincial natural and environment office, and the Pollution Control Department for neglecting to control the dumpsite and allowing it to operate without a permit.

They will also sue the owner for at least Bt100,000 in damages per person for mental distress and physical injury from the toxic smog generated by the smouldering fire.

Suwit Cheyubon, chairman of the council’s environmental division, said his legal team would collect more documents and evidence to lodge a class action lawsuit on behalf of residents this week.

Some 1,900 households have submitted complaints to the Department of Special Investigation.

According to the Public Health Ministry, about 1,200 people living near the dump fire have been treated at hospitals for “pink eyes” and sore throats.

A child aged one year and eight months has recovered from a lung infection and been discharged from hospital.

Dr Namphon Danpipat, deputy provincial public health chief, said people living within 200 metres of the fire must be monitored closely for health impacts from the toxic smog. Smoke near the site was measured at 10 micrograms per cubic metre, which was regarded as a safe level.

Police Colonel Pichai Kriangwattanasiri, director of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s Fire and Rescue Department, said he dispatched 150 firemen, 34 fire engines and two high-pressure water cannon trucks to put out the fire at the garbage dump. It is not known what caused the fire, which broke out on the 150-rai site on March 16. People had to evacuate from nearby homes and seek shelter at the Praksa Tambon shelter.

Firemen have almost put out the blaze and believe the situation will return to normal soon.

Police Colonel Wichit Boonshinwuttikul, superintendent of Bang Pu Police, said he had already asked the dumpsite owner to report for questioning.

Jatuporn calls red-shirt rally on April 5
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Jatuporn Promphan yesterday announced a mass rally of red shirts on April 5 but did not specify the venue.

The red shirts yesterday held a mass rally in South Pattaya, Chon Buri, where they organised a rite to mourn the Constitutional Court ruling on Friday annulling the February 2 election.

Jatuporn called on the red shirts to wear black from tomorrow to Sunday to mourn the behaviour of independent agencies.

People’s Democratic Reform Committee chief Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday night said the PDRC would oppose the upcoming election unless it followed national reform.

Suthep said he would soon mobilise anti-government protesters for another mass rally in Bangkok.

“There will be heavier opposition as we call for immediate national reform,” he said.

“An election only comes after that. So don’t try. It will be a waste of energy and budget as the people are not ready to go voting. They want reform.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Suthep to come together in televised talks to try and find a solution to the political problems.

Speaking at a PDRC event at Lumpini Park in Bangkok yesterday to raise funds for rice farmers, Abhisit said the Democrat Party, which boycotted the February 2 election, would run in the next election if it was organised fairly and “acceptable to all sides”.

“Unless the PM agrees to hold talks, the country cannot move on,” he said, without revealing if he had discussed the matter with Suthep.

The date for a new general election is yet to be set, with the Election Commission to discuss the matter with the government and the other political parties.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit called on the Election Commissioners to resign and pay the Bt3.8 billion cost incurred in staging the February 2 poll.

His deputy, Anusorn Iamsa-ard, reiterated that there had been a conspiracy by the PDRC and some political parties, independent agencies as well as the military and unidentified forces to topple the government.

Democrat spokesman Ongart Klampaiboon labelled the allegation “groundless” and condemned Pheu Thai for making it.

Suthep said Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn had asked him not to obstruct the February 2 election and had made the same request again.

However, Suthep said the PDRC would not accept the talk coming from politicians.

Like Somchai, he said the EC should not have to pay for the failed election. It was the government’s responsibility.

Suthep and PDRC leader Thaworn Senneam yesterday spoke to PDRC guards about democracy.

Thaworn said the PDRC would keep a close eye on the impeachment case against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating her but has yet to decide whether to indict her for alleged negligence in the rice-pledging scheme.

Thaworn said that while holding a new election before national reform was against the stance of the PDRC, it was unclear whether the organisation’s supporters continued to support the same stance.

“Trying to have an election using the same rules will only bring doom to the country,” he said.

“The PDRC leaders will evaluate many factors. Whether we will close the roads [for rallyin

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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