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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Election can be delayed – court; Japan cancels all tours to Thailand; Govt scrambles for B130bn to pay rice farmers

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Election can be delayed – court; Japan cancels all tours to Thailand; Govt scrambles for B130bn to pay rice farmers | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Poll can be deferred: court
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The February 2 election can only be postponed if the ongoing protests are brought to an end and there is no boycott of the election, a government figure said yesterday following a Constitutional Court ruling that the polls can be rescheduled.

PM’s Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn said caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been informed of the ruling, and would discuss the matter with the Election Commission (EC) if she was formally invited by the agency, he said.

“The election should be postponed on condition that the protesters cease their rallies and there is no blockade or boycott of the election,” Varathep said. “If there are still attempts to interrupt the election, there is no use in postponing it.”

Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said last night that protesters would campaign for national reform before elections at all polling booths in Bangkok during advance voting tomorrow. “It’s every citizen’s right to peacefully express his opinion. If the rally makes it difficult for voters to get into polling stations, please excuse us, as the space is limited,” he said.

Former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who is believed to be pulling the strings behind the scenes, has been made aware of the court ruling, a source close to him said yesterday.

Thaksin reportedly agreed that the push to hold the election on February 2 would only lead to violence as anti-government protesters have threatened to interrupt voting, the source said. By deferring the poll, pressure faced by the government would shift to Suthep, the source quoted Thaksin saying.

The eight Constitutional Court judges present backed the rescheduling of the election yesterday, though most of them said it would be a joint responsibility for the caretaker prime minister and the EC chief to discuss the issue.

The court said the two should decide whether the election should be rescheduled and if so, a new royal decree issued on when it should be held. In the ruling, the court also cited the rescheduling of the 2006 election, when a royal decree was issued to defer the election date.

On Wednesday, the EC had asked the Constitutional Court to consider if the election could be rescheduled and if the government and the EC were authorised to set a new election date.

Charupong Ruangsuwan, leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said the Constitution allows for a snap election to be held within 45 to 60 days after the dissolution of the House of Representatives. Hence, he said, the election could be postponed to no later than May 6.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the commission respected the court’s ruling and would hold an urgent meeting this afternoon before contacting the premier as soon as possible. He said the EC might ask to meet Yingluck either on Monday or Tuesday.

“If there is a new royal decree on the election date, the whole [election] process would go back to square one,” he said.

Issara Boonyoung, an adviser to the Business Housing Association, said the court’s verdict should ease the political tension. He said that it was still up to the caretaker government to decide whether to accept the ruling and discuss it with the EC.

A Pheu Thai Party source said the party expects the election to be postponed by at least six months, adding the party’s strategic panel had come to this conclusion at a meeting on Thursday night.

At the meeting, caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang reportedly warned that independent agencies could take measures against Pheu Thai’s interests, going so far as to dissolve the party, the source, who asked not to be named, said.

Meanwhile, EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said he did not think advance voting would be possible in Surat Thani tomorrow. “There is a lack of volunteers to man poll units in the South. Surat Thani lacks 80 per cent of electoral staff. More importantly, ballot cards heading for Surat Thani have been blocked in Chumphon.”

Once the court ruling was announced, PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva tweeted: “To postpone or not, that is the question?!?”

Issara Boonyoung, an adviser to the Business Housing Association, said the court’s verdict should ease the political tension. He said that it was still up to the caretaker government to decide whether to accept the ruling and discuss it with the EC.

On Wednesday, the EC had asked the Constitutional Court to consider if the election could be rescheduled and if the government and the EC were authorised to set a new election date. A source, who asked not to be named, said the judges voted 7-1 on the second point.

A Pheu Thai Party source said the party expects the election to be postponed by at least six months, adding the party’s strategic committee had come to this conclusion at a meeting on Thursday night.

At the meeting, caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang reportedly warned that independent agencies could take measures against Pheu Thai’s interests, going so far as to dissolve the party, the source, who asked not to be named, said.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move, leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) resolved yesterday not to obstruct the election but let the people decide what is best. PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan announced yesterday that the anti-government protest movement would not stop voters from exercising their rights in advance voting tomorrow or on election day next Sunday.

Akanat said he did not know what was behind the decision, especially after PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban had announced on Thursday that the February 2 election would not be allowed to take place or succeed. He added that Suthep would lead a march from the Ratchaprasong intersection to seek more support.

Meanwhile, as many as 7,000 police officers will be deployed at polling stations nationwide tomorrow to allow advance voting and deter anti-government protesters, Metropolitan Police deputy chief Pol Maj-General Chanthawit Ramasuta said yesterday.

However, police are under strict orders from national police chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew to use non-violent means, such as negotiations, to deal with protesters.

Violence could still occur over the weekend as anti-government protesters are expected to engage in various activities to disrupt advance voting.

Chanthawit said extra police personnel had been called in to maintain peace and order at Bangkok-based polling stations and to cope with any possible disruptions by protesters, who might “do whatever it takes” to stop advance voting.

Separately, Bhum Jai Thai Party candidates yesterday issued a statement calling on the government to defer the election until things become peaceful.

The statement was read out at a press conference, which included candidates Boonjong Wongtrairat, Sophon Saram and Prajak Kaewklahan.

Govt plans to seek Bt130 billion to pay angry farmers
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The caretaker government is considering seeking additional funds totalling Bt130 billion to subsidise the rice-pledging scheme through bank loans and the issuing of bonds, following a Council of State decision that this may be legally possible despite restrictions related to the loo

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Video & Podcasts

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

The Thaiger

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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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Protests

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

Caitlin Ashworth

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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.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Road deaths

4 people drown after SUV careers into canal in Chon Buri

Caitlin Ashworth

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4 people drown after SUV careers into canal in Chon Buri | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

4 people died after a driver allegedly hit a curb and lost control of her Toyota Fortuner SUV, running it off the road and into a Chon Buri canal.

The driver, 38 year old Sukanya from Bangkok, survived and told police she was driving 6 friends from Bangkok to Rai Lak Thong, a subdistrict in Chon Buri. She says the road was dark and she was unfamiliar with the area. She hit a curb, breaking through the road barrier and overturning the car. The SUV then slid into the a Phanat Nikhom district canal.

The water in the canal was high due to the weekend storm. The driver and 2 others were able to get out through the window, but the others – 1 man and 3 women – drowned in the submerged vehicle. By the time rescue workers arrived and pulled the bodies out of the car, they were dead.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

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