– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: The National Security Council (NSC) is not confident that it will be able to fully control civil unrest when anti-government and pro-government demonstrators take to the streets.
“With so many people out on the streets, we don’t have the confidence,” NSC secretary general Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday.
However Paradorn insisted that security agencies would do their best. “We will closely monitor the situation and prevent any confrontation between the two sides,” he said.
Tension is apparently rising as independent agencies are expected to deliver their rulings on some cases against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra very soon.
“Key factors are the rulings from independent agencies,” Paradorn said.
United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) chairman Jatuporn Promphan yesterday said there was clearly a conspiracy to oust the current government.
“After the Songkran celebrations, we will organise a massive rally to completely shut down the bureaucratic polity,” he said.
He added that he would lead his supporters into Bangkok in the upcoming rally.
At press time last night, red shirts were gathering at Aksa Road, on the western fringe of Bangkok.
“Let’s return home and celebrate Songkran first. But around April 18, we will have a really big rally,” Jatuporn said.
Paradorn expected the tension to reach boiling point this month because the UDD felt any negative rulings could be unfair to Yingluck and supporters of the government.
Meanwhile, the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) had signalled that it would stand by the independent agencies.
“If the government doesn’t accept the scrutiny by independent agencies and the Constitutional Court, the PDRC will have to organise a really big move to protect the constitution,” PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said.
“Such institutions, after all, are key pillars of the administrative system under the Constitution.”
The PDRC, which leads the anti-government movement, has lately told its supporters that the country is in the final round of the battle.
One of the serious cases targeting Yingluck surrounds her decision to transfer Thawil Pliensri from the top job at the National Security Council in 2011.
The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the transfer was unlawful and ordered that Thawil be reinstated.
According to a survey by Suan Dusit Poll, 69 per cent of respondents believe the country’s political conflict is so serious it could trigger a civil war.
Asked how to prevent the civil strife, 48 per cent said the government and anti-government demonstrators should engage in peaceful talks and refrain from inciting violence.
Almost 39 per cent of respondents said the political conflict had been prolonged because politicians were trying to protect their interests.
PHUKET: Forensic police yesterday inspected the scene where two plainclothes soldiers were shot while patrolling the Students and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR) rally site in Dusit district in Bangkok.
Lance Corporal Prasert Chansri and Master Sergeant First Class Chaiyan Lekpong both sustained gunshot wounds to the right shoulder on Saturday night and were sent to Ramathibodi Hospital.
They were among five soldiers conducting a standard motorcycle patrol on Soi Likhit, at the back of Wat Benchamabopit and not far from the STR rally, when the lead motorcycle carrying the two wounded soldiers was sprayed with bullets.
Two soldiers on the second motorcycle saw the incident and diverted to escape the hail of bullets while the soldier on the third motorcycle hid behind a tree 20 metres away from the scene.
Police found cartridges in 18 areas and one 11mm bullet at the scene.
The two injured officers are not yet able to give statements.
Pol Lt-Colonel Jarupat Thongkomol, deputy superintendent of Dusit Police Station, said forensic police had to check for what type of gun(s) were used in the attack.
National Police Chief General Adul Saengsingkaew has instructed police to remain vigilant to prevent similar attacks happening on plainclothes soldiers, deputy police spokesperson Colonel Witchayakorn Nichabaworn said. He also ordered investigators to conduct a thorough investigation and follow strict directives in handling the case, Witchayakorn said.
PHUKET: A series of explosions rocked Yala yesterday, killing at least one and injuring more than a dozen in the heart of the town, provincial Governor Dejrat Simsiri said.
The first of four blasts went off at the Coliseum intersection at about 4pm. The second was in front of Raja Furniture shop, the third at an ATM machine in front of the provincial electricity office and the fourth at the Fa Sai shop. The most serious was at Raja Furniture on Sirorote Road, where an unknown person was found dead and a fire broke out after.
The body of the victim was burnt beyond recognition, police said. Fire officials fought the blaze at the shop, while many injured were admitted to a hospital in the province.
Ten wooden buildings in the area where damaged, police said. A Toyota pickup was found damaged near the furniture shop, according to police, who suspected the bombs were carried in the vehicle.
Police hoped surveillance-camera footage in the areas might be of use in identifying suspects behind the bombings.
Yala is one of several hot spots in the predominantly Muslim deep-South, where violence erupted in early 2004 and has killed more than 5,000 people so far. The government believes separatist movements are behind the violence.
PHUKET: Student recruitment under the near-home quota might be scrapped as applicants have dwindled.
Apichart Jeerawuth, secretary-general of the Basic Education Commission, said last week that the near-home quota was also putting pressure on students who wanted to apply for Mathayom 1.
“I really, really do understand the feelings of children and their parents when they are excited and waiting to hear whether they are eligible to join the programme,” he said after observing near-home recruitment at Surasakmontree School.
Young students and their parents living near this school have flocked to try their luck in the draw. Some students wore amulets around their neck for good luck.
Yesterday students graduating from Prathom 6 drew lots to decide whether they can continue their education at a higher level. Competition is especially stiff to enter 63 famous schools nationwide.
— Phuket Gazette Editors