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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Feb 2 election to go ahead; Violence fears raised; Rescue worker charged for rape

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Feb 2 election to go ahead; Violence fears raised; Rescue worker charged for rape | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Feb 2 elections will go ahead: Yingluck
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: After holding a meeting with representatives from different political parties and officials from agencies related to the election, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra decided yesterday to go ahead with the February 2 poll.

Insisting that her government had no authority to postpone the vote, she said the Election Commission (EC) had the power to get government agencies to cooperate and ensure the election goes smoothly.

Yingluck, who met with representatives from 37 parties, said the majority of the participants insisted that the election go ahead as scheduled.

“Now that the meeting has learned about problems related to the election, we will try to deal with them and send the resolution to the EC,” she said.

The caretaker government invited up to 70 individuals from the EC, political parties, government agencies and political groups, including the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee, to the meeting.

However, the EC was only represented by secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong, while the Democrat Party and the PDRC did not send any representatives.

While General Nipat Thonglek, the permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry, attended the meeting, Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn sent a representative.

This meeting was held one day after Kittipong Kittayarak, permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, issued a statement saying the election should be postponed and the caretaker government should review its role.

Upon hearing of the meeting on Tuesday, the EC said Yingluck’s government should have met with the commission alone instead of turning it into such a big affair. The EC has also invited the government to a meeting today, though caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana said yesterday that the meeting was not confirmed.

Meanwhile, at the government’s event, Ekachai Chainuvati, an academic and representative of the Assembly for the Defence of Democracy (AFDD), voiced support for holding the election as scheduled, adding that under the Constitution, the prime minister had no authority to postpone the poll.

He said he believed the EC would appeal to the Constitutional Court to seek a ruling if it is unable to reach an agreement on the election.

“If the prime minister doesn’t want to see Thais kill fellow Thais, then she should not decide to issue a new decree to have the election delayed from February 2,” Ekachai warned.

Council of State secretary-general Chukiert Ratanachaichan said the council would not issue an opinion on whether to postpone the election, though he added that the royal decree on House dissolution and the call for a new election was in effect. Hence, he said, there was no choice but to hold the election as scheduled.

Puchong, meanwhile, said that though the EC had suggested that the election should be delayed, it was still going ahead with its duty of organising the poll.

He said the commission would ask government agencies, state enterprises and other agencies to support its job both in terms of providing election venues and personnel. The EC requires 140,000 members of staff to organise an election, but lacked personnel in many provinces.

Meanwhile Nipat said his office was ready to help the EC hold the election and even provide the space, officers and equipment if the commission sent over an official request.

Bhokin Bhalakula, a key figure of the ruling Pheu Thai Party who is believed to have met with the EC for secret talks, said yesterday that the commission had to go ahead with the election if it wanted to avoid an apocalyptic situation.

Many leaders of small parties also said yesterday that the EC had no authority to postpone the election, and should carry out its duties.

They also complimented Yingluck for her patience in the face of all this pressure, adding that she had their backing. The atmosphere of meeting at the Air Force Headquarters was not difference once former premier Thaksin Shinawatra called the meeting with small parties to tried to end problem, after EC faced many difficulties with holding the election because of the Democrats boycott.

Violence fears realised
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The stakes in the months-long political rally are rising, as more violence is directed at anti-government protesters.

The Bangkok residence of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat Party leader, was the target of a grenade attack on Tuesday night, while two people near the Pathum Wan rally site were injured in a shooting early yesterday morning.

In a move to cope with the rising number of attacks, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has agreed to cooperate with a new police security plan under which nine checkpoints will be set up near Pathum Wan and Ratchaprasong rally sites to screen people entering the venue to minimise the chance of possible attacks.

The casualty toll for the “Bangkok shutdown”, now entering its fourth day, had grown to seven injuries as of Tuesday night, sustained in three attacks on anti-government rally sites by unknown assailants, according to a Public Health Ministry update released yesterday. The ministry’s toll does not include five deaths that occurred during a red-shirt rally at Rajamangala Stadium late last year.

Since the PDRC launched its campaign late last year, three people have died and 194 have been wounded through attacks and other violence, Dr Narong Sahametapat, permanent secretary of the ministry, said in statement read out yesterday. The incidents cited by Narong included a two-day skirmish between police and protesters at the Thai-Japanese Stadium during candidacy registration.

Early yesterday, a bus chartered by anti-government protesters that was parked at the Nang Lerng Race Course, officially known as the Royal Turf Club, was damaged when a tyre was set on fire.

In what was described as a separate incident, four people were arrested and a 9mm pistol and four grenades were seized when the suspects’ vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint at 3am yesterday. Bang Na police said the four suspects had nothing to do with the bombing of Abhisit’s house.

The four suspects – Anusorn Pinijkhun, 45, Suna Thinkaew, 53, Khamphrai Saengsawaeng, 45, and Thanapha Denmart, 48, a woman – were charged with possessing weapons and carrying them in public without a permit. Suna reportedly confessed to buying the grenades from a friend and carrying the gun for self-defence.

Deputy National Police chief Pol General Aek Angsananont said the seized explosives were Chinese-made RGD-5 grenades, possibly smuggled in, unlike the type used in Abhisit’s home attack, which police did not identify.

Aek had inspected Abhisit’s house on Sukhumvit Soi 31 after a grenade blew a large hole in the roof above a storage room and shattered windows at 11.20pm on Tuesday. No one was hurt in the incident. Abhisit’s family had already moved out, leaving a few caretakers inside.

The motive was probably just to scare people, as was believed to be the case in a drive-by shooting at a coffee shop at the Democrat Party headquarters on Monday night, Aek said.

Pol Colonel Khamthon Ouicharoen, chief of Explosive Ordnance Disposal police, said the grenade picked up at Abhisit’s house was a US-made M-26 mod

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Facebook, Twitter may face charges for allegedly allowing lèse majesté content

Caitlin Ashworth

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Facebook, Twitter may face charges for allegedly allowing lèse majesté content | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Standard

Facebook and Twitter could face charges for failing to block so called lèse majesté posts that allegedly violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society says the social media platforms were warned about Thailand’s laws regarding content that insults the Thai Monarchy or threatens national security and peace, but failed to remove all the illegal posts.

Letters were sent out to the operators of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube giving them 15 days to take down the illegal posts or charges would be pressed, according to Minister of Digital Economy and Society Buddhipongse Punnakanta. Since not all the posts were removed, the ministry has asked the Technology Crime Suppression Police to step in and prosecute the social media platforms.

The Thai government has been using the blunt tool of “shooting the messenger” in its battle against content deemed disrespectful of the Thai Monarchy under its lèse majesté laws.

“It is the first time in Thailand that the (computer crime) law is exercised to prosecute the service providers. Charges will go to the parent company of all the organisations. The police will use Thai laws because the offences happened in Thailand. I believe the police can do it.”

The minister says Facebook was told to take down 661 posts, but they only removed 225. Twitter was told to remove 69 posts, he says, but only took down 5. YouTube was told to remove 289 posts and all of them were blocked. Social media platforms that violate the Computer Crime Act could face an up to 200,000 baht fine per illegal post and a daily fine of up to 5,000 until the content is removed.

Buddhipongse filed the complaint which also cited nearly 1,000 social media posts that allegedly violate the act. They say the posts offending the Thai Monarchy were made during the pro-democracy protest in Bangkok last weekend.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty, sealing Burmese border, Thai airways creditors | September 24

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Visa amnesty, sealing Burmese border, Thai airways creditors | September 24 | The Thaiger

Latest update for September 26 deadline of visa amnesty.

Deadline set for THAI creditors

A date has now been set for creditors to recover their money from Thai Airways. Applications for debt repayment through corporate bonds started yesterday. Applications filed by private individuals are being received at the Securities and Exchange Commission office in Bangkok. The deadline for applications is November 2. It’s ben reported that there are some 10 million creditors. The airline’s total debt stands at 352.4 billion baht.

Thailand seals its 2,000 kilometre border with Myanmar

Thailand’s Department of Disease Control remains on alert, and patrols increased along the Thai/Myanmar border, as Thailand’s western neighbour continues to register a spike in new Covid 19 cases. Between 430 and 670 people each day, over the past 4 days, have tested positive for Covid-19. The DDC’s director-general says that Thai “business operators should stop hiring foreign workers, especially Burmese people, to help prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections in Thailand.” Myanmar’s number of confirmed cases has now reached 7,177 with 129 Burmese succumbing to the virus at this stage. Yesterday the four national papers suspended circulation, waiting out the sudden surge of cases. In some border districts, police have placed barbed wire along the leaky jungle border to deter people from crossing the 2,000 kilometre-long border illegally.

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says former immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, shouldn’t assume his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office was unlawful. Surachate, known by the nickname “Big Joke” headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha early last year. It’s understood he is now planning to sue the PM, claiming that the lack of any investigation against him shows there were no grounds for the transfer. For his part, Deputy PM Wissanu says Surachate has the right to sue the PM if he so wishes but shouldn’t assume his transfer is similar to that of the former National Security Council chief, who was transferred under former PM Yingluck Shinawatra in 2011. That transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court. Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

New army chief declares he’ll protect Thailand’s monarchy and restore peace

Thailand’s new army chief says he pledges to restore peace and protect the country’s monarchy. In a ceremony formerly saying farewell to retiring generals, incoming army chief Narongphan Jitkaewtae (jit-gow-tear) said he would restore peace and be loyal to the Thai Monarchy. His statement comes at a time when many people are speaking out against Thailand’s military-run government, and calling for changes to the constitution (voted for by referendum in 2017). He said… “Protecting the monarchy with absolute loyalty and supporting the government to resolve national problems and working to advance the country are tasks for which the generals deserve the honour.”

Thailand’s Social Security Office forced to explain investment in Sri Panwa Phuket Resort trust fund

The Social Security Office, a department under the direction of Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, is being asked to explain its investment in the trust fund of Phuket’s Sri Panwa Phuket Resort. The demand comes as members of the opposition and political activists call for an investigation into the property’s ownership of the land. The owner of Sri Panwa Phuket, Vorasit Issara, has faced flak online recently, with his property attracting multiple negative reviews as a consequence, after he criticised one of the student anti-government protest leaders. Thai PBS World reports that the Civil Society for State Welfare is calling on the SSO to clarify its investment in the Sri Panwa Hospitality Real Estate Investment Trust, thought to be worth around 500 million baht. Meanwhile, review site Tripadvisor has had to suspend reviews for the Sri Panwa resort, as the travel review website has been flooded with negative reviews.

Bangkok officials issue advice to motorists to avoid parliament area due to protest

Bangkok motorists have been told avoid the roads around Thailand’s new parliament building today, with a political rally taking place there as we speak. The rally was announced by anti-government protesters at the end of their weekend demonstration. The Metropolitan Police Bureau advise drivers to avoid Kiak Kai Road, in front of the parliament building, as well as a number of other roads in the vicinity. The Thaiger will bring you some of the latest vision from the protest this afternoon which you can watch on our Facebook page with a full report on tomorrow’s Thailand News Today.

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982 lèse majesté social media posts cited in police complaint

Caitlin Ashworth

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982 lèse majesté social media posts cited in police complaint | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

Nearly 1,000 so called lèse majesté posts on social media have been cited in a police complaint for allegedly violating Thailand’s Computer Crime Act, some allegedly criticising and insulting the Thai Monarchy. The complaints were filed by Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta.

The police report says the social media posts were shared during the pro-democracy protest over the weekend. Altogether, 982 social media posts allegedly violate Thailand’s Computer Crime Act. The ministry has also applied for a warrant to block content on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter at violate the act.

In Thailand, lèse majesté (insulting the monarch) is criminalised by Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code… Since 2018, there have been no known new (lèse majesté) cases, but the authorities have invoked other laws, such as the Computer Crimes Act and sedition laws, to deal with perceived damages and insults to the monarchy. – Wikipedia

The complaints and subsequent legal threats, are a rear-guard action by a government and officialdom rattled by the number of protesters and by the extent of their demands, touching on the culturally taboo topic of Thailand’s revered monarchy. Another protest is on today at the front of the Thai parliament in Bangkok.

Out of the 982 posts, 661 were on Facebook, 289 were on YouTube, 69 were on Twitter and 5 were on other websites. Buddhipongse says 2 Facebook posts and 3 Instagram posts violate an Article 14 in the Computer Crime Act which regards posts that many cause damage to the country’s national security or cause a public panic. Those who violate Article 14 face up to 5 years in prison and an up to 100,000 baht.

Social media platforms could also face charges for violating the act’s Article 27 for failing to comply with orders from the court to take down the posts. They could face a fine up to 200,000 baht and a daily fine of 5,000 until the posts are taken down.

Other posts allegedly violate the act’s Article 20 which prohibits the spread of information online that might have an impact on national security, or that might be contradictory to the peace. The Nation Thailand says each post that violates Article 20 could face a 200,000 baht fine.

Click HERE to read an unofficial English translation of the Computer Crime Act.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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