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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 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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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by PR Phuket

2,473 new Covid-19 cases and 35 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. The majority of the new cases are local transmissions, primarily in Bangkok. 680 of the new cases were detected in prisons.

Thailand now has 42,988 active Covid-19 cases, a record high for the country. Out of those cases, more than 10,000 are linked to outbreaks at prisons. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 113,555 Covid-19 infections.

35 deaths involving Covid-19 patients were reported today, raising the pandemic’s death toll in Thailand to 649. Most of the new fatalities were reported in Bangkok.

Bangkok remains the epicentre in the latest wave of infections. The capital reported 873, raising the total since April 1 to 28,658.

There are now 29 Covid-19 clusters in 19 districts in Bangkok. The government has set up several locations for active case finding to contain the spread of the virus.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun, who gives the CCSA report in English, adds that Thai authorities are taking border breaches very seriously and security has tightened at land and sea borders as there have been a number of illegal entries involving those coming from neighbouring countries. Heightened border patrol has been an effort to prevent Covid-19 from being imported into Thailand.

Provinces with the highest number of new Covid-19 infections…

Province New cases Total since April 1
Bangkok 873 28,658
Nonthaburi 155 4,757
Samut Prakan 121 4,329
Pathum Thani 117 2,467
Samut Sakhon 63 1,930
Phetchaburi 43 645
Chon Buri 33 3,768
Nakhon Si Thammarat 30 757
Songkhla 29 1,041
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 28 936

Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 2,473 new infections and 35 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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Education Ministry launches online platform as schools’ reopening plans delayed

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Thailand’s Education Ministry is launching an online platform for public school students who are, once again, being forced to learn at home due to restrictions and limitations imposed by the government.

The third wave of the virus has prompted authorities to postpone the reopening of government schools from May 17 (yesterday) to June 1. However, as daily infections keep rising, that date may be amended again.

As the future of the pandemic is unclear, the Ministry has launched www.ครูพร้อม.com, an online platform titled Kru Prom or Teachers Ready in English. The portal features content under 6 categories featuring the word “Wanna” in reference to the more grammatically correct English words of “Want to.” The Wanna Know page, is dedicated to educators as it features e-books to help them boost their skills.

Wanna Learn, Wanna Know, Wanna Teach, Wanna Do, Wanna Watch, and Wanna Share are the categories that students can choose from. Each category has a wide range of choices for students that includes different types of media for each lesson.

Students or teachers are not required to use the new Kru Prom platform, as the Education Ministry says it is just an alternative for those who are interested in learning more. Likewise, teachers are not being told they must compile reports over the platform and it won’t be included in their performance evaluations.

The Ministry has also noted that the platform can be used, even while physically attending school, as a supplement to students’ learning.

Prominent education academic, Athapol Anunthavorasakul, is not impressed with the idea as he says children are exhausted from online/offline classes. He says children should be allowed to play during the break, even if it is extended. He says the most schools should require over the break, is for the students to share what they had learned.

But the Ministry already has released plans that include online learning – once schools are allowed to reopen. The classes will be conducted using onsite, on air, on demand, online, on hand, and hybrid formats. The Ministry is also offering free internet packages to students to help them make the move to online learning. Meanwhile, the Education Minister says the website’s recent launch has proved popular on the first day, gaining thousands of hits.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Thai students to get free unlimited internet to help with online learning

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Thai government school students are set to get free unlimited internet to help students move their studies online after the third wave of Covid-19 has forced schools’ reopening date to be postponed to June 1 from May 17. Digital Economy and Society Minister, Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn, in along with the Education Ministry, said the internet packages will be powered by Thailand’s major mobile and internet operators including AIS, True, Dtac and the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission. He says the ministry will also provide as many schools as possible with fibre-optic high-speed broadband to help broadcast lectures and seminars.

Chaiwut says on-site teaching will continue under strict provisions, if possible, along with on-air education via TV broadcasts and an increase in the availability of on-demand learning materials and books. The Ministry has launched www.ครูพร้อม.com, an online platform titled Kru Prom or Teachers Ready in English. The portal features content under 6 categories featuring the word “Wanna” in reference to the more grammatically correct English words of “Want to.” The Wanna Know page, is dedicated to educators as it features e-books to help them boost their skills.

Students and teachers are not required to use the new Kru Prom platform, as the Education Ministry says it is just an alternative for those who are interested in learning more. Likewise, teachers are not being told they must compile reports over the platform and it won’t be included in their performance evaluations. The Ministry has also noted that the platform can be used, even while physically attending school, as a supplement to students’ learning.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong said admission exams for Mathayom 1 and 4 students will be held on May 22-23. Students, teachers and parents, who participate in the exams, will have to follow sanitation instructions at each testing venue, with all tests being given between a strict window of 9am to 12pm daily.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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