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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PDRC ponders blocking advance polls; Public gatherings banned; Red shirts marshall; Kwanchai recovering

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
โ€“ Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PDRC plans to block advance voting
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The anti-government protesters will try to disrupt advance voting for the February 2 election in Bangkok on Sunday, an informed source said yesterday.

Leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) will decide today whether they should block the roads leading to the polling stations or besiege the polling stations, making it impossible for voters to cast their ballots, a PDRC source said.

“The decision on one of the two choices will be made [today]. The operation will definitely take place on Sunday,” the source said.

This PDRC “operation” will be implemented mainly in Bangkok, according to the source, who added that protesters in the provinces might also try to disrupt advance voting locally.

A venue for advance voting – mostly district offices – has been designated in each of the capital’s 50 districts.

The Constitutional Court will rule today on whether the election will be held on February 2, and on whether any government agencies or the Election Commission (EC) have the authority to set a new date, amid the caretaker government’s continued strong push for the poll to be held as scheduled.

The court decided yesterday to take the EC’s petition into its consideration and will make a ruling today. It must act quickly because advance polling is due to take place on Sunday.

The Constitutional Court has jurisdiction to rule on these issues, as two state authorities are in conflict.

The EC has proposed that the election be rescheduled for May, as it cannot make voting go smoothly because of the anti-government protests in Bangkok and some other provinces, especially in the South. The government disagrees and insists the election must be held on the original schedule, saying the Constitution does not allow for a new date or delay.

To push its case, the caretaker government has asked the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to cooperate with the poll agency to keep order during advance voting on Sunday, PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said after a special meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.

A state of emergency was imposed in Bangkok and its outskirts on Wednesday. The government set up the CMPO to take care of the situation.

In a related development, caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday told the military’s top brass at a Defence Council meeting to instruct their subordinates to exercise their voting rights, Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng said.

Election commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said he feared that after the poll, lawsuits would be filed seeking its nullification because voting will fail to be held on the same day nationwide, as required by the law.

Currently, there are no candidates registered in 28 constituencies in the South.

Public gatherings banned
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Curfew not to be imposed; dissemination of news to come under the scanner; Chalerm says authorities will now focus on arresting the protest leaders

Under the emergency decree invoked on Wednesday, the caretaker government yesterday banned public gatherings of five or more people and the distribution of news in a manner that threatened national security, but stopped short of imposing curfew at night.

Those measures were among the six published in the Royal Gazette following the declaration of a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and parts of Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.

The announcement, signed by caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, also authorised the government’s Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to prohibit the use of transport in certain areas and the use of certain buildings, as well as the evacuation of people from certain places or areas.

Now that the state of emergency is in place, authorities will focus on arresting the leaders of the anti-government movement in a bid to end their rally that has gone on for more than 80 days, Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who heads the CMPO, said.

Authorities are allowed to detain them for 30 days under the emergency law, he said.

There would be no violence against the protesters and there would be no operation to disperse the street demonstrations, he said.

“The government wants peace to be restored,” he said.

The CMPO was considering arresting all the leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee in the hope of resolving the protest crisis and ending the demonstrations within 60 days, he said.

People providing financial support to the protest movement might face legal action, as their identities were known, he said, adding he might ask the Anti Money Laundering Office to investigate.

PM meets military top brass

Yingluck, who is also the defence minister, urged the Armed Forces to take good care of their weapons and ensure they would not be stolen during this time of high political tensions, said Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng, spokesman for the Defence Ministry.

Yingluck chaired a meeting of the Defence Council at the Air Force headquarters with Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Permanent Secretary for Defence General Nipat Thonglek, Supreme Commander General General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Navy chief Admiral Narong Pipatanasai, Air Force chief ACM Prajin Juntong and other senior brass.

The meeting discussed the military’s scope of authority in enforcing the emergency decree and its role in helping police keep order at night, according to a source. The military leaders were told to help monitor against more bomb attacks and warned to be careful when making public statements.

Defence Council meetings are usually held at the Defence Ministry, but as it has often been laid siege to by protesters yesterday’s meeting was moved.

Air Force chief Prajin said the caretaker prime minister could use the Air Force HQ as a meeting venue once in a while, but it would be inconvenient for the CMPO to use the office as its command centre because it is both an air base and an airport governed by many security rules.

There had been speculation that the CMPO would want to relocate from the Defence Ministry to the Air Force HQ after the protesters surrounded the ministry on Wednesday, forcing the CMPO to cancel its meeting.

Pol Maj-General Chanthawit Ramasut, the deputy commissioner of Metropolitan Police, said the police will set up 23 security checkpoints around the protest sites in Bangkok to prevent any smuggling in of weapons or violent incidents.

State of emergency measures

1. No gatherings of five or more people in areas marked out by the CMPO are allowed. People can only gather for legal demonstrations and elections. Actions inciting disorder are banned.

2. News reports and distribution of newspapers and other publications carrying distorted information or facts that might cause panic, affect peace and order or good morals are not allowed.

3. At the order of the CMPO chief, the use of public transport routes and vehicles for other purposes is prohibited.

4. The use of public buildings and areas, as well as entering specific places is prohibited under the orders of the CMPO chief.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Family sues prime minister, CCSA after Covid-infected relative dies

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo from Kunlasub Wattnaphon's Facebook.

The family of a man who died while infected with Covid-19 is demanding the prime minister, as well as other government officials, pay millions of baht in compensation, citing “negligence” after calls to Covid-19 hotlines went unanswered or were not of help.

35 year old Kunlasub Watthanaphon died on April 23. Kunlasub is said to have contracted the virus from a cluster in Bangkok. Many of the clusters of infections early in the recent outbreak were concentrated in nightlife districts in Bangkok including Thong Lor and Ekkamai.

When Kunlasub developed Covid-19 symptoms, he called the hotline numbers for those who think they make have contracted the virus. If he had received proper treatment quicker, the family says he might still be alive.

“The CCSA announced telephone helplines โ€“ 1330, 1422, 1668, 1669 and 1323 โ€“ for people who suspected they had contracted Covid-19. When my brother developed Covid-like symptoms he called these numbers. However, they were either busy or someone picked up but did not send help right away.”

Kunlasub had documented his illness on Facebook, posting updates, as well as photos and videos, up until the day of his death.

The death of the 35 year old man, who is well known in the esport, or video competition industry, sparked controversy. One person wrote on Facebook after Kunlasub’s death “My friend didn’t die because of a congenital disease. He died because he wasn’t treated in the early days.”

The case was filed at the Administrative Court today. It demands compensation of 4.53 million baht from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration as well as PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, his secretary and the prime minister’s office.

The family is also suing Thong Lor entertainment venues, where the first clusters were reported in the recent outbreak, for negligence.

โ€œHad the CCSA imposed a strict lockdown on entertainment venues and banned travel during the Songkran holiday, the latest wave of Covid-19 with over 2,000 new infections daily would never have happened.โ€

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | 8 clusters in Bangkok, Phuket party organisers charged | May 14

Tanutam Thawan

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Foreigners may face a slight delay in receiving their Covid-19 vaccines, The BMA has now confirmed 8 clusters of Covid infection in the capital, Thai Private Hospital Association is now working to offer a variety of Covid-19 vaccine brands to Thais and Patong police have announced that the managers of the Phuket venues that hosted the Kolour entertainment event swill be charged under Thailandโ€™s Emergency Decree provisions.

 

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Economy

Market down as good US economy drives interest rate fears

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Thai stock market followed the rest of the world down yesterday, but long-term prospects may be looking up.

After US inflation exceeded targets and increased 4%, global stock markets including Thailand plummeted yesterday with fears of rising interest rates. Almost 144 billion baht was traded yesterday with the market at one point diving down 70 points in the late afternoon before recovering to a 23.72 point loss, closing at 1548.13.

2% is a high rate of inflation so the big numbers sparked fears that the US Federal Reserve will reduce quantitative easing and increase interest rate which decreases the market’s liquidity. The US economy is surging with the Consumer Price Index up 4.2% over last year.

The balancing out of the economy will likely push risky prospects like the stock market down while driving up commodity prices like energy and oil. This may hurt the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the short run, but will likely have long-term positive effects as the SET has a large number of energy stocks that will benefit from the market’s change.

Some long-term investors in Thailand fear quantitative easing and the market’s tightening because it drives away foreign investors which in the past made up 30% of the Thai market. But now foreigners only account for 20% so the negative effect should be much less. However, in the normal inflation range of 1 to 3%, the stock market should have a price-to-earnings ratio of 20 and some experts have downgraded it to 18 now.

Eyeing the US, some experts predict that even accelerated quantitative easing won’t come into effect until the end of the year and interest rates probably won’t rise significantly within the next 2 years. Watching the continued effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and US unemployment figures will be key indicators driving the global market up or down.

Even with the stock market down in Thailand, there’s still some good news as Thai corporations listed on the SET expected to cross the 200 billion baht profit threshold this week, after reporting 180 billion baht in the first quarter of the year, with 55% of the market recording a profit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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