Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PM seeks Japanese transportation deal; People’s Army on the move; Thaksin no terrorist; Floods not a crisis

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

PM seeks Japanese role in Bt2-tn transportation project
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has invited Japan Inc to take part in Thailand’s Bt2-trillion transportation development project.

She also proposed to Myanmar to jointly develop a “trilateral highway”, creating land bridges between India, Myanmar and Thailand.

She discussed these issues during bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the 23rd Asean Summit in Brunei, PM Office’s spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said yesterday.

She briefed Abe on the progress of the mega-infrastructure project. She also asked his government and Japan’s private sector to join the project.

Teerat said Abe was interested in having state agencies and the private sector become involved. Japan is not only keen to help roll out the high-speed train network but also to provide consulting services on train operations and ticketing systems.

Abe expressed sympathy over the flood situation in Thailand and asked the Yingluck government to take special care of Japanese factories.

Yingluck told Thein Sein that Thailand was ready to help Myanmar in achieving its reform agenda and to collaborate in trade and the development of the Dawei special economic zone.

The two leaders discussed the problem of smuggling across their borders, which cost the countries in lost tax collections.

Thailand was also eager to work with Myanmar on the implementation of the National Single Window, an electronic system ensuring secured and efficient electronic exchange of trade-related documents through a single point of entry.

The 23rd Asean Summit ended yesterday in Bandar Seri Begawan. In a statement, it was revealed that the grouping grew 5.7 per cent last year, was able to maintain its level of Foreign Direct Investment inflows at US$108.2 billion and recorded $2.47 trillion in total merchandise trade.

The leaders were also of the view that against the backdrop of weaker global growth, regional growth is expected to moderate in the immediate term. Nonetheless, in the longer term, economic activities in the region are expected to remain robust.

A number of measures – 279, or 79.7 per cent – of the AEC Blueprint have been implemented, encouraging the leaders that the regional integration would be completed by 2015, which would enhance Asean’s competitiveness and continue deepening and broadening the regional economic integration.

To spur infrastructure development in the region, Asean also looked forward to the commencement of the Asean Infrastructure Fund’s (AIF) lending operations this year. “We believe that AIF is an integral component of Asean’s efforts to strengthen regional physical connectivity, and narrow the infrastructure development gaps in Asean.”

Thaksin escapes terrorism charge
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Public prosecutors have dropped terrorism charges against fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in connection with the unrest and riots of 2010, due to “weak evidence”, attorney-general Athapol Yaisawang said.

He said it was a decision taken by his predecessor Chulasingh Vasantasingh, who cited weak evidence as reason not to prosecute Thaksin.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) submitted its reports on the terrorism charges to the Office of the Attorney-General. In addition to Thaksin, charges were also filed against 23 red-shirt protesters, allegedly connected with the 2010 political violence.

Athapol said yesterday that prosecutors had reviewed the charges against Thaksin as a separate case, because the accused was a fugitive.

Chulasingh had the final word on whether to try Thaksin because the alleged offence happened outside the country.

Office of the Attorney-General spokesman Nanthasak Pulsuk said Thaksin had only phoned in from abroad and there was no clear evidence that he had instigated people to take part in terrorism.

“Thaksin’s address [to the red shirts] did not call on the protesters to violate the law by burning city halls, embassies, consulate offices, or by toppling the Constitution. The violence at the Ratchaprasong intersection was because the government used military force to reclaim the protest area – with armoured vehicles and war weapons – to disperse the red-shirt protest, leading to many injuries and deaths,” he said.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday that the attorney-general’s decision was deemed final and the DSI would not reopen the case.

People’s Army moves rally from Govt House to Lumpini Park
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The group that calls itself People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime has agreed to move its rally site back to Lumpini Park, although it said it reserved the right to protest outside Government House.

Police and rally organisers struck a deal ahead of today’s visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“The protest leaders have decided to vacate the Government House area and relocate to Lumpini Park,” rally organiser Preecha Iamsuphan said yesterday.

Preecha said the organisers would decide whether to return to the seat of the government after the departure of the Chinese delegation.

The announcement to relocate the rally site came yesterday afternoon following 30 minutes of talks between organisers and deputy national police chief General Worapong Chewpreecha.

Rally organisers said the relocation should not be construed as conceding defeat.

They said they would not back down despite the enforcement of the Internal Security Act.

A number of protesters voiced disappointment with the decision, saying it was tantamount to retreating.

They disagreed with the argument that the relocation should be seen as aimed at protecting the country’s good image at a time when the Chinese premier is paying a visit.

Police withdrew riot forces to pave the way for the clean-up and beautification of Government House.

Protesters continued to congregate near the Nang Lerng area before moving on to Urupong intersection, which is not covered by the ISA.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog refused to hold talks with People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime as requested by the group leaders.

He said he would answer a motion submitted by MPs during a House meeting. “I have assigned the representatives of the Peacekeeping Centre to talk to protesters,” he said.

He also said had he joined in the talks, he might have violated the law as the mandate had already been given to the Peacekeeping Centre.

Pol Maj-General Thawat Boonfueng, who is deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs, said the government had prepared 15 buses to transport the protesters to their destinations. Meanwhile, the Internal Security Act would remain in effect in three Bangkok districts until next Friday.

He refused to reveal other conditions negotiated between the protest leaders and the Peacekeeping Centre.

Temple wants remains from graveyard removed
— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News
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