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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Parties wrangle for Senate control; Yingluck to face NACC; Relief for Isarn drought

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Parties wrangle for Senate control; Yingluck to face NACC; Relief for Isarn drought | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

PM yet to confirm appearance before NACC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday she has not decided whether she will defend herself in person today before the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) over the rice-pledging scheme corruption case, or send her lawyer on her behalf.

The NACC is investigating the case before resolving whether to indict Yingluck on charges of alleged malfeasance and dereliction of duty for her failure to stop the rice-pledging scheme, which was allegedly rampant with corruption and led to a huge loss to the state.

NACC secretary general Sansern Poljiak yesterday said the NACC would not decide whether to indict the premier today.

However, he urged Yingluck to at least send her lawyer to submit her explanation in document form today and she could ask to give an explanation in person later.

Sansern said that after the explanation was submitted, the NACC would consider any request from Yingluck for it to make further investigations and would decide on that in a meeting the following day.

Yingluck said she had asked the NACC for an additional 15 days to submit her defence statement, after having already been granted an initial 15-day extension, but she was refused this time.

She said she had managed to get information about the charges from the NACC’s 280-page case document on Thursday, so she ended up having only three days to study the document to defend herself against the charges.

Yingluck has questioned whether the NACC has treated her fairly, or in the same manner as other political office holders.

“We see that there was no progress in many other cases [involving NACC investigations],” she said.

“Some cases have almost reached the statue of limitations and some have lost it.

“Some cases see no progress because of a lack of documents but I have just been accused after a 21-day investigation and I was denied additional time to be prepared for the interrogation.’

Noppadon Pattama, on the committee for Pheu Thai Party’s affairs, raised the following questions with the NACC in connection with the agency’s accusations against Yingluck.

1. Why did the agency take more than five years to probe the case against Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva over the corruption allegation involving rice distribution and make no progress, while pressing charges against Yingluck after only 21 days?

2. Does the NACC want to bring about a swift prosecution against Yingluck by having a full NACC panel investigating the case instead of appointing a sub panel to do the job, as it normally does with other cases?

3. The NACC pressing charges of malfeasance and dereliction of duty against Yingluck shows that Yingluck had nothing to do with the corruption, so why is the agency pressing charges in the broad spectrum against her?

4. The NACC produced a 280-page document covering the charges against Yingluck and only three days before she is forced to make her defence statement. Is the time given to her too short?

5. Does the NACC carry out its duties fairly?

6. Why doesn’t the NACC give Yingluck additional time to submit her defence statement, even though the NACC’s decision in this case could result in her being suspended from duty?

Noppadon urged the NACC to give Yingluck ample opportunity to defend herself and rule in accordance with the truth, saying he could not predict how the agency’s verdict would impact on the country.

Democrat Party deputy leader Ongart Klampaiboon said Yingluck was not entitled to send her lawyer to defend charges of malfeasance.

“She must defend herself in person, since she used her judgement in signing papers related to the rice-pledging scheme,” he said.

“No one knows her mind or thoughts about the issues.”

Ongart expects the political mercury could reach “boiling point” this month because independent agencies are finalising many cases against the government.

New Senate could decide PM’s fate
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Polls opened yesterday for 77 Senate seats that could hold the key to the fate of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who, after five months of street protests, may face impeachment for negligence of duty.

While the Senate is officially non-partisan, in reality the two main political camps – the ruling Pheu Thai Party and opposition Democrat Party – are trying to control the 150-seat Upper House in the absence of a functioning Lower House after the election last month was annulled.

From unofficial results last night, it was obvious that winning candidates are likely to come from the two rival parties, or the red-shirt and anti-government camps. Most top contenders are former ministers or party members, MPs, or politicians’ relatives. Some of them are close to anti-government protesters.

Former Auditor General Khunying Jaruwan Maintaka appeared to win the Senate poll in Bangkok with more than 500,000 votes while about one million people voted. Jaruwan, who is known as a tireless opponent of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, vowed not to disappoint the people who voted for her. “I will be determined in protecting the national assets,” Jaruwan said after she learned the unofficial results.

Appointed Senator Khamnoon Sitthisamarn posted a note on Facebook saying Jaruwan is qualified to contest the post of Senate speaker if she wants.

The anti-Thaksin regime group, or representatives of the Democrat Party, are also likely to sweep seats in several southern provinces and some eastern provinces such as ex-Democrat MP Boonsong Khaiket in Trat.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan, former provincial administrative organisation president Suebyos Baiyaem is the likely winner. He is backed by former Democrat secretary |general Chalermchai Sri-on. In Chumphon, Pol Colonel Narin Butsayawit, son of former Chumphon MP Narrong Butsayawit, got a big boost from a key leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and is likely to win

Senate candidates likely to win who are government supporters include former Chart Thai Pattana MP Jongchai Thiangtham in Suphan Buri and Monthien Songpracha in Chai Nat. Monthien is believed to be a Pheu Thai supporter as his wife has become a party member.

In Chiang Mai, Adisorn Kamnerdsiri, former Chiang Mai deputy governor, who has close ties with Pheu Thai, is tipped to win.

In Khon Kaen, red-shirt lawyer Wan Suwanpong has left his competition far behind. In Udon Thani, red-shirt hardliner Kwanchai Praipana’s wife Arporn Sarakham won up to 300,000 votes to take the seat.

Anti-government protesters are pushing for the removal of Yingluck as PM. The earliest this could happen would be through an impeachment, which would require votes from three-fifths of the Senate if she is found guilty by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on charges of dereliction of duty for her role in overseeing the rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck is due to appear before the NACC today.

Observers said the elected portion could install many pro-government members to help bolster the administration in the face of looming legal challenges. However, a Senate dominated by anti-government politicians could hasten her exit.
— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment

Caitlin Ashworth

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Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment | The Thaiger
PHOTO: CP Foods

To help reduce unemployment and boost the economy after the pandemic, 8,000 graduates will be hired by the company Charoen Pokphand Foods, known as CP Foods. Thailand’s Ministry of Labour recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the company.

4,000 of those jobs will be in Bangkok and metropolitan areas while the other 4,000 more in the upcountry. The job offers vary from positions in the computer science field to positions in the culinary industry.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin says the government has a policy to unite all sectors of the society to revive the economy from the coronavirus crisis that caused job cuts, leaving many unemployed, especially new graduates.

He adds that CP Foods has been constantly supporting the government in Covid-19 relief effort since the beginning of the outbreak. This post Covid-19 collaboration will create stability for people at all levels and build more small and medium sized enterprise, or SME, owners that are the foundation of Thai economy.

There’s also a discount coupon giveaway from CP Foods and the minister says it will help reduce cost of living for people who are eligible for social security benefits.

CEO of CP Foods Prasit Boondoungprasert says CP Foods is managed in line with the parent group CP Group’s policy, to solve the Thailand’s unemployment problem, particularly for new graduates, by creating job opportunities and job security. He says it’s an “engine for economic revival.”

CP Foods will also provide a business opportunity for SME franchises like FiveStar and STAR Coffee, which need a small budget and small space to kick off.

The company will also offer training courses with experts to guide them to start up the business. It expects to create 4,500 franchise owners nationwide.

CP Foods will have a book at the Job Expo Thailand 2020 this Saturday until Monday at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centres, or BITEC. Those interested can click HERE for more information.

To learn more about starting a FiveStar franchise click HERE and for a STAR Coffee franchise click HERE.

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Thailand

Empire strikes back: Thai royalists oppose constitution changes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Empire strikes back: Thai royalists oppose constitution changes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Warong Dechgitvigrom

Just after proposed constitutional amendments, backed by pro-democracy supporters, were submitted to the Thai parliament, the Thai Pakdee royalist group filed a petition with 130,000 signatures saying they are against making changes to the constitution.

Pro-democracy activists have been demanding a rewrite of the Thai constitution at protests over the past few months. The nonprofit organisation Internet Law Reform Dialogue, known as iLaw, drafted amendments including one that would require all senators and local administrators to be elected. Currently Thailand’s entire Senate is hand-picked by the ruling party. More than 100,000 people back the proposed changes.

“There’s no need to make changes”, according to Former Democrat MP and leader of Thai Pakdee Warong Dechgitvigrom. He says the 2017 Constitution was approved by 16.8 million people (Thailand’s population is 69.4 million).

“Redoing the process would cost 15 billion baht in taxpayer money. On top of that, it would require 2 referenda and a general election.”

According to Thai PBS, 84 of the 250 senators need to be on board to move forward with revisions to the constitution. At the moment, around 60 of them are in favour of constitutional amendments while 100 oppose any changes and the rest are undecided. But Senators against the amendments might change their minds, according to Senate whip Sangsit Phiriyarangsan. He says he believes more senators will be in favour of making some amendments after hearing debates in parliament.

SOURCES: Thai PBS

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Surachet sues, The Nude Panda | September 23

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Surachet sues, The Nude Panda | September 23 | The Thaiger

Daily TV News from The Thaiger

Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer

The former head of Thai Immigration, and poster boy for Thai officialdom, Surachet Hakparn, is taking legal action against Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, after the PM had him unceremoniously transferred to an inactive post last year.

Surachet, commonly known by the nickname “Big Joke”, (a nickname given to him by Thai media) accuses the PM of transferring him without just cause and has been petitioning for a review of the decision ever since.

At the time there was no reason given for the high-profile head of Thailand’s Immigration to be ‘side-lined’ to desk duties at the PM’s office.

Surachet’s lawyer says that in the 1 year and 5 months since his client’s transfer, there has been “no investigation launched against him” and that he should immediately re-instated.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2018, Surachet’s face was everywhere in daily media reports, often seen with hordes of foreigners his team had ’rounded up’ in immigration crackdowns around the country.

But at some point, he appears to have stepped on the wrong toes, calling into question procurement practices at the Immigration Bureau, amid plans to spend billions on smart cars and the airports biometrics system. Surachet was dumped and sidelined… the purchases went ahead.

4 Thai banks to be investigated for “suspicious transfers” after FinCEN files report

4 Thai banks are being investigated after an international money laundering report said the Thai banks had “suspicious financial transactions.” The report found 92 “suspicious” transactions in and out of Thailand totalling to $9,558,752 USD received in Thailand and $31,750,000 USD sent out.

Files were allegedly leaked from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.The FinCEN Files report“reveals the role of global banks in industrial scale money laundering,” citing a total of $2 trillion USD in suspicious global transactions from 1997 to 2017.

The Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office plans to investigate Kasikorn Bank, Bangkok Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Export Import Bank of Thailand. But he says the information from the international report needs to be verified first.

Thai sex workers push for prostitution decriminalisation

Prostitution could become further decriminalised in Thailand. A petition is being passed around calling on the government to stop arresting and fining sex workers.

The Empower Foundation, which supports sex worker, is trying to collect 10,000 signatures before they send it to parliament. Also known as the Centre for Sex Workers’ Protection, Empower is a non-profit organisation in Thailand that supports sex workers by offering free classes in language, health, law and pre-college education, as well as individual counselling.

“Prostitution is not illegal in Thailand, although many activities associated with it are… like brothels, soliciting, pimping and causing a public nuisance etc. Still the underground industry is estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year.

Activists say prostitution laws do little to protect sex workers. Fines and arrests for soliciting sex, have pushed some sex workers into poverty, most of them being women. Thailand is estimated to have up to 200,000 sex workers, many of them now unemployed with no recourse to unemployment benefits or official help during the pandemic.

Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends

A holiday-led economic recovery. That appears to be a part of the government’s agenda following yesterday’s meeting of the Thai cabinet. 2 new holiday weekends have been created, one in November, one in December.

In both cases the extended weekends will be 4 days each, adding the Thursdays and Fridays before the weekend. Given the exodus of foreigner this week, there will be fewer of the ‘stranded’ expats and foreign visitors to add to the economic tally of the additional holidays.

So, put it in your diaries…

• November 19-22

• December 10-13

Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine

A man working as a food delivery driver in the southern province of Songkhla, has been filmed riding his motorbike totally naked. The 24 year old later handed himself in to police, explaining that he’d taken his clothes off due to “a personal problem”.

The nature of the problem is not known, and police let the man go with a 500 baht fine.

A video was posted on social media, showing the naked young man hurtling along on his motorbike, which had a food delivery bag on the back. The video has now been deleted. According to a motorbike taxi driver witness, the man parked his bike in front of a local temple, removed his clothes, then got back on the bike and drove off.

Social media response was mixed with most just inquisitive about his motives to ride “commando” with little protection, actually no protection at all.

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