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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Pheu Thai prepares for worst; Armed men among protesters; Russians hurt as tour bus flips

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Pheu Thai prepares for worst; Armed men among protesters; Russians hurt as tour bus flips | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Pheu Thai braces for the worst
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The ruling Pheu Thai Party is preparing for the worst-case scenario on Wednesday when the Constitutional Court announces its ruling on the proposed amendment of the Constitution, a decision that could bring the government down.

The opposition Democrats and some senators have asked the court to rule on whether the bill to amend the Constitution, which was sponsored by 312 lawmakers, is lawful.

Last week, key members of both Pheu Thai and the Democrats analysed possible scenarios for the court’s judgement. Both agreed the chances that the court would hand down a verdict that is in favour of the government were very slim.

Pheu Thai chief Jaruphong Ruangsuwan said yesterday that he was worried about the court judgement, as it might pose a risk to the party and eventually seal the fate of the government under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Under the proposed amendment, all 200 senators would be elected, rather than having 76 elected and 74 appointed as currently. Also, the amendment would allow the relatives and spouses of sitting parliamentarians to run. The opposition is worried that the amendment would allow the government to bring its associates into the Senate easily.

Analysts see three likely choices for the court.

One is for the court to pronounce the charter amendment unconstitutional and order the process stopped, even though Yingluck has already submitted the amendment to the Palace for royal endorsement. The second would extend the first option by requiring the 312 MPs and senators who sponsored the charter-amendment bill to take responsibility.

The third would be for the court to rule the amendment unconstitutional on grounds that it attempts to change the country’s system of government. The court could then dissolve the ruling parties that supported the amendment, including Pheu Thai, and ban their executives from politics.

That means four political parties would be disbanded and 55 politicians banned for five years, including 19 executives of Pheu Thai, 11 of Chart Thai Pattana, 17 of Chart Pattana and eight of Phalang Chon. Among them, four are ministers – Pheu Thai leader Jaruphong, his deputies Kittiratt Na-Ranong and Plodprasop Suraswadi, plus Phalang Chon leader Sontaya Kunplome.

Yingluck could survive the ruling, but the Democrats would pressure her to take responsibility, said a senior Democrat member, who has joined in the rally at Democracy Monument.

“Democrat MPs have warned her to delay the submission [of the charter-change legislation] for royal endorsement, but she decided to rush the process. She cannot deny responsibility,” he said.

Legal experts at Pheu Thai hope that the court would simply rule the amendment unconstitutional and order it stopped, but there is also a high possibility that the court would go so far as to outlaw parties involved.

The key concern is that four or five top Pheu Thai Party executives are among the 312 lawmakers who sponsored the charter change.

Three of the nine justices are likely to have dismissed the petition citing a lack of authority to rule on the constitutional amendment, Pheu Thai experts said. They are Chut Chonlavorn, Boonsong Kulbupar and Udomsak Nitimontree.

The new member, Twekiat Menakanist, might also excuse himself or abstain from voting, as he has not worked on the case from the beginning. The ruling could then come down to the opinions of five justices, they said.

If the court ruling favours the opposition, it could calm protesters led by senior Democrat Suthep Thaugsuban. But red-shirts would probably take to the streets instead.

Police search for weapons amid claims of armed men
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog has confirmed reports that armed men have been found among protesters in the South rallying against the government.

“Police have already arrested two Cambodians for carrying guns at a the protest site of rubber farmers in Prachuap Khiri Khan,” he said yesterday, adding that it was of serious concern to the government.

Yesterday, about 20 policemen searched several tents at the Bangkok-based rally led by the Students and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform, but no weapons were found at the site.

Pracha was speaking after PM’s deputy secretary-general Suporn Atthawong mentioned the presence of war weapons at anti-government rally sites.

There are now many rallies against the Yingluck Shinawatra-led government. Former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban leads one of the biggest rallies in Bangkok.

The Democrat Party’s deputy spokeswoman Mallika Boonmeetrakool, who apparently doubted Suporn’s words, demanded that authorities make arrests within two days, if they could prove weapons were at the rally site.

“Otherwise, we will hold that the current government has lost its legitimacy to maintain peace and order in the country,” she said.

As of press time, Pracha offered no details on the arrests made in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, meanwhile, said he had received information that hundreds of hardcore protestors in the southern provinces of Surat Thani, Chumphon, Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat, were being mobilised to join the Suthep-led rally.

“If there is any violence, Suthep and his gang must take responsibility,” Prompong said.

Ekanat Prompan, a spokesman for the Suthep-led rally at the Democracy Monument, said dozens of thousand people had signed their petition to impeach 310 MPs who voted in support of the amnesty bill.

Whistle-blowers

The highly controversial blanket-amnesty bill sailed through the House of Representatives at dawn on November 1, prompting public outrage. Thousands of people have since taken to the streets to show their dissatisfaction.

The Yingluck-led government has tried to appease the public by announcing that it will scrap the bill. Suthep, however, has continued his protest and called for more anti-Thaksin people to come forward. Yingluck is a younger sister of Thaksin Shinatwatra, the former prime minister who lost power following the 2006 military coup.

Suthep also urged people to show their dissatisfaction of the government by blowing whistles in the presence of government figures and Cabinet members.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang faced a large number of whistle blowers yesterday at a hotel in Nakhon Si Thammarat where he was presiding over a seminar.

Whistle blowers were also present at the Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport, when Chaturon boarded his flight. He also faced whistle blowers at a hotel in Bangkok.

Saksarit Sriprasart, a core member of the Student and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform in Trang, urged local residents to blow whistles at Deputy Prime Ministers Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan and Kittiratt Na Ranong, who were scheduled to join a seminar in Trang between November 22 and November 24.

Yingluck, who is also defence minister, said she had recognised whistle blowing was a form of expression.

Govt uses AMLO to seize assets of protest sponsors
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

Politics

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Maya Taylor

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PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandnews.co

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government. While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough of a headache with just one party.

Thai PBS World reports that Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation, as he pointed a finger at reporters gathered at Government House.

“You go and ask the one who spread the rumour.”

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda has dismissed rumours he’s planning to set up a political party with the PM and interior Permanent Secretary, Chatchai Promlert. Anupong says he’s no political expert and has never considered creating a political party.

Since July, anti-government protests have been taking place around the country, with activists calling for the PM’s resignation, the dissolution of Parliament, and for fresh elections to be held.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Environment

Thailand’s ban on hazardous farming chemicals to remain in place

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s ban on hazardous farming chemicals to remain in place | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Despite fears to the contrary among those in favour of it, the ban on paraquat and chlorpyrifos is to remain in place. The Hazardous Substances Committee has confirmed that production, possession, and importing or exporting either substance remains illegal, under legislation introduced on June 1 of this year.

Thai PBS World reports that Industry Minister, Suriya Juangroongruangkit, says a discussion of the ban took both pros and cons into consideration, adding that a number of reliable reports clearly illustrate that the chemicals pose a health threat. He points out that they are banned in many other countries, in addition to Thailand.

Thai farmers have been protesting the ban, criticising suggested safer alternatives as ineffective. Abhai Sutthisung, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, agrees suitable alternatives have yet to be found. It’s understood the Agriculture, Industry and Commerce ministries are attempting to convince farmers to make the change to organic farming, by identifying viable markets for organic produce.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

Maya Taylor

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Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kapook

The Education Minister, Nataphol Teepsuwan, is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country. Nation Thailand reports that 34 out of 42 have had complaints filed against them.

Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV. A teacher, Ornuma Plodprong, was captured on video pushing students to the ground, banging their heads against their desks, and twisting their ears until they cried out in pain.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. An investigation by immigration police also caught one Filipino national working illegally at the Nonthaburi branch. The school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers. If proven, the Education Minister says the school director could face 3 years’ imprisonment, while the ‘babysitters’ could get 2 years.

Nataphol says Education Ministry rules forbid teachers from using physical punishment, pointing out that the only permissible forms of punishment include probation, reducing test scores, and corrective activities. Netizens who’ve taken to social media to criticise the abuse say it’s only one part of a wider problem with the Thai education system.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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