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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protesters mourn Suthin, murder witness steps up; Election date looms; Rice corruption plagues Yingluck

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protesters mourn Suthin, murder witness steps up; Election date looms; Rice corruption plagues Yingluck | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Govt may let EC decide election date
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The caretaker government is likely to pass the hot potato of rescheduling the February 2 elections over to the Election Commission (EC) when caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra meets election commissioners today.

A source in the ruling Pheu Thai Party said yesterday that the government was expected to ask the EC to set a new election date. Also, the caretaker PM has reportedly been advised by the party’s legal team to ask the EC to shoulder the Bt1.88 billion it would cost to hold an election, the source said.

The election commissioners would also be asked to ensure that no legal action will be taken against the PM or her government if the caretaker Cabinet issues a royal decree rescheduling the election.

At the meeting, the PM will also raise questions with the EC on whether rescheduling the election would bring the ongoing protests to an end and whether the Democrat Party would contest the rescheduled election.

According to the source, one proposal – at the suggestion of the Council of State – would be for the EC to postpone the voting by seven days. This would be in line with Article 78 of the electoral law that allows such postponement in case of riot or force majeure (natural disaster).

Earlier yesterday, the government appeared firm on going ahead with the election this Sunday. Caretaker Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan, who is also leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said the election must be held on schedule. He explained the government had resolved with 41 political parties for the poll to go ahead. They agreed it was not necessary to postpone the election, he said.

But a former Pheu Thai minister said the government may postpone the poll if the EC could convince the Democrat Party to contest the election and that no legal action would be taken against the caretaker PM if it was postponed.

The source, who asked not to be named, said Pheu Thai leaders met their legal team yesterday about points to be discussed with the EC at the meeting between Yingluck and the commissioners, to be held at the Army Club at 2pm.

EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said yesterday the EC would propose that the poll be delayed by up to four or five months.

The Pheu Thai meeting yesterday came up with three solutions in response to the Constitutional Court ruling last Friday that the election can be rescheduled, the source said.

The first was to go ahead with the poll as scheduled because the royal decree to dissolve the House and hold the February 2 election is still in effect.

“If the caretaker government advocates postponing the election, it may get sued by political parties and people who have voted in advance,” the source said.

Second, the election goes ahead but the EC postpones the ballot in constituencies where advance voting on Sunday was interrupted by protesters – for seven days or more depending on the situation. Third, cancel the election and reschedule it on grounds that the court has backed rescheduling it.

Govt will be blamed

“The government will be blamed by society if it does not postpone the election. The EC wants the election to be postponed for 120 to 150 days,” the source said.

The EC wants the new election to be held after a ballot for 77 senators to replace those whose term runs out on March 4, the source claimed. The government also wanted the EC to guarantee that the Democrat Party would take part if the election is deferred for a few months.

The Democrats have boycotted the current election on grounds that political reform should be implemented first.

Somchai, speaking to Spring News TV, said the polling process should be restarted to pave the way for candidates unable to register for the Feb 2 election to apply. Moreover, he said, advance voting needed to be nullified via a new royal decree.

“I think the election should be postponed for 4-5 months. All concerned parties need to hold talks on how to make the election acceptable and fair,” he said.

Meanwhile, a group of people yesterday shouted messages in support of the February 2 election when Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva arrived at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus for a meeting between political party representatives and EC members.

Representatives from more small political parties registered to contest the Feb 2 election submitted a letter to the prime minister yesterday, urging her not to postpone the poll.

Surathin Pijan, leader of New Democratic Party, threatened to take legal action against the PM, the EC, and possibly the Constitutional Court if the election is postponed. He said smaller parties had spent a lot of money on their election campaigns.

Caretaker Deputy PM Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who is the chief adviser of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), told reporters that if the EC seeks help from the CMPO, which is in charge of enforcing the emergency decree, to keep law and order at polling stations, the body would be able to handle the situation.

He said the EC did not seek help from police or the military to protect polling stations during advance voting two days ago.

Advance voting at most polling stations in Bangkok and southern provinces were cancelled following blockades by protesters. This caused the EC to complain that it did not receive support from police or the military.

But Surapong said he received explanations from Interior Ministry permanent secretary Wibul Sanguanpong and Defence permanent secretary Gen Nipat Thonglek that the EC had not sought special protection or special forces to deal with the protests.

“So only the normal number of police were deployed to guard polling stations,” Surapong said.

Interior Minister Charupong said yesterday he has ordered his permanent secretary to summon governors of 10 provinces, where advance polling could not be held, to clarify how much cooperation they gave to election officials. He said he wanted to know if the ministry had received an official request from the EC to support election officials during advance voting.

NACC to consider impeachment against Yingluck over rice-pledging
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is expected to conclude an impeachment case against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on charges of dereliction of duty over the rice-pledging scheme in two months, commission member Vicha Mahakun said yesterday.

Stressing the importance of the case, the sub-committee investigating the case will today propose that all NACC members join a committee to consider her impeachment.

Vicha said Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had earlier filed a lawsuit on the same charge seeking Yingluck’s impeachment and that the NACC had decided to take it up and work on it in parallel. He added that addressing the issue as a criminal case would take a lot longer.

He said the impeachment case against Yingluck was similar to the one filed against 308 MPs and senators as it involved charges of abuse of authority and corruption.

Abhisit’s suit is among eight complaints filed against Yingluck so far.

The former PM filed his lawsuit after launching a no-confidence debate against the incumbent PM, accusing her of corruption, mismanaging th

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Emergency Decree, Parliamentary protest, Dark days for hotels | September 25 | The Thaiger

Daily TV news about Thailand, delivered fresh, and free, to you. Hosted by Tim Newton. Catch the latest updates and Thai News.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments yesterday.

A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021. The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Pheu Thai and the Move Forward Party described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

Bleak outlook for Thailand’s hotels

Thailand’s hotels are facing a very dark time with the Thai borders still largely closed and the vast majority of Thailand’s hotels remaining closed for business.

There are 1000s of hotels and a related millions of staff, waiting for things to improve. C9hotelworks.com MD, Bill Barnett, is one of the region’s most respected consultants for the industry. We asked Bill, how are they all surviving? (Run interview video… 2.56 – 3.35)

Officials says no illegal land encroachment at Phuket’s Sri Panwa resort

After coming in for some negative online attention recently, the land title deeds of the Sri Panwa Phuket resort have been investigated and found “to be in order”.

The 5-star hotel first attracted the attention of netizens when its owner, Vorasit Issara, publicly criticised an anti-government activist.

His Instagram tirade prompted outrage from those who support the current protest movement, with netizens calling for a boycott of his property.

Shortly after, the Civil Society for State Welfare called on the Social Security Office to clarify its investment in the resort’s trust fund. This was echoed by at least one opposition MP and anti-corruption activists.

Responding to the land rights issue, the Phuket Land Office has issued a statement to say the hotel does not occupy state land.

Covid task force calls for extension to Thailand’s emergency decree

Thailand’s Covid-19 task force is advising the government to extend the country’s state of emergency by a further month…again.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration plans to discuss the matter next Tuesday and put it to Cabinet for consideration on Wednesday.

The state of emergency, or emergency decree, which has been extended several times since its introduction in March, is due to expire at the end of this month. It has been extended, on a month by month basis, many times this year since it was introduced to short-circuit the process of implementation of Covid-19 preventative measures.

Now, the CCSA says an extension is vital to ensure various government agencies can work speedily as the county starts welcoming back visitors.

Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival goes ahead next month

Somehow Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is to go ahead next month, but officials say they will ask participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that!

The 2020 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will take place from October 17 to 25.

Given the fireworks and crackers exploding in your face if you attend any of the events, it’s probably a good idea that the Governor is insisting visitors wear face masks. We’d recommend eye googles as well.

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival.

The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

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Economy

Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal

Caitlin Ashworth

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Deputy PM says 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back to normal | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

It’s going to be another 2 years until Thailand’s economy is back on track, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. At least that’s the amount of time he expects it will take to get the economy back to “normal levels” from before the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus crisis crippled economies across the globe. The Covid-19 pandemic is already the worst global crisis since World War II, according to a report by the UN. Thailand’s tourism-dependant economy has been struggling since the country shut it’s doors to international travel. Krungthai Bank also predicts it will take about 2 to 3 years for Thailand’s economy to recover and the Finance Ministry predicts Thailand’s economy will contract by a record of 8.5% this year.

Almost 800 billion baht has gone into supporting the economy, Supattanapong says, adding that the government plans to do more stimulus perks to help boost the economy. The government is working on a 1.9 trillion baht response package with a 1 trillion baht borrowing plan.

Supattanapong’s guesses are based on the pandemic situation not getting any worse, whilst the world’s Covid cases, in many part of the world, including many of Thailand’s feeder markets, are suffering a new spike in cases. His assumptions would also have to include an immediate return to high profit of the country’s tourism industry – not likely to happen any time soon.

“I think the economy should get back to normal levels within two years… But if we can manage it very well, we may see that late next year.”

While Thailand’s economy as a whole might take just 2 years to get back to normal, the country’s tourism revenue is expected to take even longer. Krungthai COMPASS Research Centre predicts it will be at least 3 to 4 years until tourism revenue is back to normal. Thailand’s tourism revenue is expected to shrink by 70% by the end of this year, making only 9.1 billion baht compared to the 3.02 trillion baht tourism brought in last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand’s first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Prachachat

The government just sealed the deal to build Thailand’s first factory to produce cancer-treating medicine and chemicals, a move that is expected to cut treatment drug costs in half. Buying imported cancer-treating drugs is expensive. Thailand spends about 21 billion baht per year on imported cancer medicine, according to Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The local factory is intended to give Thais more affordable and also more accessible medicines for treating cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Thailand, Anutin says, adding that each year, 80,000 people in Thailand die from cancer.

Thailand's first cancer medicine factory expected to cut drug costs in half | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: CDC Thailand

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation signed a contract with PTT to build the plant. Construction will be begin in 2022 and they would start producing commercially until 2027. The factory will produce variety of drugs for many different types of cancer, including drugs for chemotherapy, according to the organisation’s managing director.

“This factory will have the capacity to produce 30 million units of chemotherapy drugs and 31 million units of biological drugs per year, with a focus on patents that will expire first. Once there is enough for domestic use, we can boost our production capacity for export. This will make cancer drugs cheaper in the country and will also help push for them to be included in the national list of most-needed medications.”

The factory is planned to be in Rayong’s Ban Chang district at the PTT Wanarom Eco Zone Industries estate. The feasibility study is expected to take 14 months.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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