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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Fears of major clash; Data on Imam killing; Military gunmen shot unarmed people: Court; US pushes for tougher trafficking sentences

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Fears of major clash; Data on Imam killing; Military gunmen shot unarmed people: Court; US pushes for tougher trafficking sentences | The Thaiger

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

Fear of major clash if rivals face off at House
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A political confrontation is looming between pro- and anti-government mobs, with Democrat Party MPs having decided to lead a group of supporters to Parliament House today, which is protected by a huge police force and controls imposed under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The opposition’s stance of combining street protests with its legislative efforts became clearer when Phatthalung MP Niphit Intharasombat said that future Democrat rallies against the Pheu Thai-led government’s push for an amnesty bill might be held jointly at Lumpini Park. There is now a large rally at this site by an anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movement.

Several pro-government red-shirt groups, including members of the Phuket Pitak Siam group (click here for article) are travelling to the capital to show support for the government and the bill, which would seek pardons for many pro-Thaksin protesters indicted for violence and crimes committed during the riots in Bangkok three years ago.

Supporters of the so-called People’s Army gathering in the provinces are expected to arrive in Bangkok today, when the bill is submitted to Parliament for its first reading.

The People’s Army, which has the tag “To Overthrow the Thaksin Regime”, said yesterday that it would heighten the scale of its rally by 9am today. The rally leader, retired Admiral Chai Suwannapharb, said all tactics and moves of organisers needed to remain secret, but people keen to know what the protest plans would be were welcome to join the rally.

Police spokesman Maj-General Piya Uthayo said there would be no further estimates on the number of anti-government protesters today, but he said an intelligence report noted that both sides were gathering a mass of supporters. An extra deployment would be made available – some six more units in total – to cope with the increasing number of people in each group, he said.

Speaking onstage at the anti-Thaksin People’s Army rally on Monday night, Niphit announced: “I now call on brothers and sisters of the Democrat Party to gather here.

“I also call on the brave to test the ISA, by converging outside Parliament House to give me support,” the MP said. “If you cannot enter the [ISA-imposed] zone, give me a call. Parliament debates [scrutinising the bill] are open to the public, and the ISA does not prohibit a peaceful gathering in the [ISA-imposed] zone,” he said.

Democrat MP Satit Wongnongtaey, said all Democrat MPs would lead a group supporters to the Parliament at 9am, and would ask policemen guarding the Parliament whether the supporters could get in the compound. “This is a symbolic measure signifying the Democrats’ fight [against the bill], both inside and outside the Parliament, as they would not violate the law,” he added.

At a party rally in Bangkok’s Uruphong area on Monday, fellow Democrat MP Suthep Thuagsuban vowed to stage a rally around the clock to “show off the people’s power” to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. He said all Democrat MPs would “continue the fight outside the Parliament” if any person attending this rally sustained a scratch from police action. That was because the location – a public space under an elevated expressway – is outside the ISA zone, declared over three districts in Bangkok where Government House and Parliament are located.

Opposition whip and Democrat MP Jurin Laksanavisit said there would be no agreement made with the government on the duration of scrutiny or sessions of debate, as it would be useless to seek a time frame fixed by the government from 1pm to 11pm. He said a request would be made through the House Speaker and the PM for a live telecast of the House debate on the pardon bill.

Meanwhile, a group of red shirts visited the Democrat headquarters on Setsiri Road yesterday to call for support for the pardon bill.

Keep checking our the Phuket Gazette’s Thailand News section, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest national news.

BRN provided new data on Imam killing:NSC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The authorities have received information from the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) group in relation to the killing of a prominent Imam in Pattani on Monday, but no details have been made available (click here for article).

General Paradorn Pattanatabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), confirmed this yesterday but refused to elaborate.

“Questions have been asked and some answers have arrived, but I can’t disclose the information,” he said.

BRN and Thai authorities have been engaged in peace negotiations, with the next round of talks scheduled to take place on August 18.

Imam Yakob Raimanee of the Central Masjid in Pattani, who openly worked with the Thai authorities, was gunned down on Monday. This assassination took place even though BRN had promised a truce during the month of Ramadan.

Paradorn has dismissed suggestions that the imam’s killing showed that the peace dialogue has been a failure.

“The imam was targeted earlier, two years ago,” he said, pointing out that the peace dialogue had only begun this year.

However, Paradorn acknowledged that after the imam’s death, people would become more reluctant to cooperate with the authorities’ efforts to end the turmoil in the deep South.

He said police were looking into Yakob’s killing in line with normal procedure, but the authorities would also ask BRN about the incident via Malaysia, which is the facilitator of the talks.

Paradorn said violence seemed to have intensified in the deep South during the latter part of Ramadan, adding that those who do not wish to see the peace dialogue go ahead were trying to disrupt it.

When asked if there were any other groups that wanted to become part of the peace dialogue, Paradorn said two other groups had come forward, but as of now the Thai authorities had decided that all contact would be made via BRN.

Meanwhile, the Scientific Crime Detection Division 10 Yala Centre said tests showed that the type of bullet and revolver used on Yakob matched the type used in several other security cases.

More than 7,000 people attended praying rites ahead of Yakob’s funeral late on Monday. He had commanded much love and respect in the local community.

Waedeuramae Mamingji, who chairs the Pattani Islamic Committee, said everybody was sad about what had happened. “But this will not affect religious leaders’ determination to promote the right principles and peace talks,” he said.

Waedeuramae said Yakob was usually given a sec

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget

May Taylor

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Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters | The Business Times

The opposition is accusing the government of being more concerned with military arms than the daily struggles of Thai citizens. During a debate in Parliament on the budget bill, the government was accused of caring more about the growth in military spending than citizens’ financial woes.

The opposition levied the attack after PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered the 3.2 trillion baht bill to the House of Representatives. The debate on the 2020 budget is expected to continue for two more days and if approved by Parliament, the bill will come into force early next year.

The PM says the budget aligns with the “20 year strategy” to improve the living standards of the nation’s citizens while growing the economy, but opponents accuse him of making defence spending a priority.

The leader of the opposition, Sompong Amornvivat, claims that in the five years the PM has been in power, total spending has hit 14.3 trillion baht, with loans of 2.2 trillion baht, without any significant growth in the economy. He accuses the government of spending more than 6 billion baht on defence, with the Interior Ministry getting 25 billion baht more than last year.

It’s also understood that the government has also put 518.8 billion baht aside, which it can spend as it wishes, without the consent of Parliament.

The government’s tourism stimulus plan, whereby domestic tourists would be given cash incentives, also came under fire as Sompong declared it a waste of money that would do nothing to boost productivity.

The subject of the PM’s oath-taking fiasco reared its head again, as the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pol General Sereepisut Temiyavej declared the PM and his government unfit to rule or propose a budget bill as a result of it.

Anudit Nakorntab from the Pheu Thai party said the government should postpone unnecessary spending on military arms while the country’s citizens battle economic hardship, accusing the previous junta-led administration of also prioritising the military in its spending.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals

May Taylor

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Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals | The Thaiger

The chairman of the Thai Sugarcane Farmers Association, Thongkam Cheongklad, says a ban on the weed-killer paraquat would have a severe impact on production costs. Academics and Thai sugarcane farmers have also expressed their concern over the ban, saying it could cost the industry up to 570 billion baht.

The Nation reports that up to 1.2 million people working in the sugarcane industry are understood to be against the ban, saying the proposed paraquat substitute is both expensive and ineffective.

The president of the Thailand Society of Sugarcane Technologists, Kitti Choonhawong, says Thailand has approximately 11 million rai dedicated to sugarcane plantations, generating about 300 billion baht a year.

He claims that a ban on agri-chemicals may lower sugar production, which in turn would affect sugar factories and cause the export market to lose as much as 94.6 billion baht. Thailand is currently the world’s second biggest sugar exporter, behind Brazil.

A research director from the Thailand Development Institute says the ban could ultimately mean the country is not allowed to produce enough food, unless chemical fertilisers are still allowed if chemical pesticides are banned.

Viroj Na Ranong says production costs will still rise however, along with labour costs, adding that the government needs to do its homework.

“The government has to implement measures based on research, not on social trends and politics.”

It’s understood that The National Hazardous Substances Committee will meet on October 27 to decide if a ban on three chemicals currently used in farming will go ahead. The substances involved are paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos and the proposal is for them to be banned from December 1.

SOURCE: The Nation

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