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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protesters storm Bangkok stadium; Yingluck plan shot down; Thaksin calls for calm; DSI shoots for PRDC arrests

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

Police battle protesters at Thai-Japanese Stadium
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police used teargases and rubber bullets to fend off protesters from storming into the compound of the Thai-Japanese Stadium Thursday morning.

Police started firing teargases at about 7:20 am after protesters led by the Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform cut the padlock of Gate 2 and tried to storm in. After the gate was opened, they encounter a police truck that blocked the gate.

Police fired several teargases at the protesters who tried to grabbed some canisters and hurled them back into the compound.

Channel 3 reported that a protester was hit by a rubber bullet on his leg and was severely injured.

The clash occurred after representatives of 27 political parties arrived the Thai-Japanese Stadium for party-list number draw at 06.40.

Police closed all gates and parked police vehicles in front of the gates to prevent protesters from pushing through the gates.

PM unveils reform assembly plan
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday floated the idea of setting up a reform assembly in parallel with preparations for the February 2 election, but analysts said it would not work, and the protest movement immediately rejected it.

On a special TV programme, Yingluck said the post-election government would be committed to continuing the work of the so-called National Reform Assembly.

She called for all sectors of society to join the assembly to lead the country out of conflict.

“My government has listened to suggestions of several sides from several forums and agrees that reforms are needed in the social, economic and political dimensions,” she said.

To start the process, an 11-member committee would be set up to organise the assembly, then 2,000 people would be recruited from professional groups and organisations throughout the country. They in turn would select 499 members from among themselves for the council.

The committee formed to organise the selection process, Yingluck said, would specify qualifications and other conditions of those who wished to be on the 499-member council.

The 11-member committee would include the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, the secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, chiefs of government agencies, and the president of the Board of Trade of Thailand.

Yingluck insisted that her government would not get involved in the establishment of the assembly. The Prime Minister’s Office and the interim Cabinet would only acknowledge the council, but their official approval would not be required. She did not give any indication of how long the assembly would operate, though earlier she suggested a term of two years.

Legal entity

Thongthong Chandrangsu, permanent secretary of the PM’s Office Ministry, said Yingluck would need to use her authority to issue a Prime Ministerial Order to endorse the council as a legal entity, as the caretaker government has no mandate to enact any other form of law. The new government after the election could upgrade the order to a law through the parliamentary process, he said. By this weekend, Yingluck will begin the task of recruiting members of the 11-person committee to set up guidelines for establishment of the assembly, he said.

“We want to see representatives of all sectors to set the agenda for the reform. It might not be a constitutional organ, but I believe the new government will make a commitment to reform.”

Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, earlier proposed a “People’s Council” that would comprise 400 people, of whom 300 would come from various professional organisations and 100 would be selected by the PDRC.

He wanted Yingluck to step down and hand power over to his unelected council to carry out “reforms”, which critics say have not been well defined. However, some academics also doubt the government’s sincerity over the establishment of a reform assembly. A similar forum chaired by former prime minister Banharn Silapa-Archa was set up under Yingluck’s government months ago but it did not work, said Thivakorn Keowmanee, of Naresuan University.

Independent academic Asdang Panikabutr said he did not oppose the idea of such a forum but was worried it might be influenced by politicians.

“Why not simply make an agreement among the political parties on what to reform after the election, and do it when they have the people’s mandate?” he said. “Previously people have kept talking about reform but [there has been] no action.”

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said government-sponsored reform was not what the protesters wanted and it would not work. The government had just proposed it as a decoy to get support for staying in power, he said.

Ongart Klampaiboon, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, said people would not accept reforms proposed by the government.

Thaksin tells clan to hunker down
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has advised all clan members to stay low during the current highly-volatile political situation. The exceptions are his sister,Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck and brother-in-law former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, who are the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s party-list candidates. Former Army commander and relative General Chaisit Shinawatra said on Wednesday.

Speaking at his private birthday party, Chaisit commented the military had placed itself in a good position by staying neutral towards political instability. However, he said Army commander General Prayuth Chao-ocha should have worked more with protest leaders to seek talks, while the two camps argued whether the protest-preferred reform or government-enabled election should come first.

He pleaded with protesters not to pressure Yingluck further, because the government had retreated to a dead end. He said the protests could be regarded as a successful silent coup, because the military and the police had failed to respond.

DSI to seek arrest warrants if PDRC 9 fail to appear
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said arrest warrants will be sought after the New Year if the nine leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) do not report to the department today.

The nine, facing sedition and other serious charges, include Anchalee Pairerak, Thavorn Saenniam, Sathit Wongnongtoey and Wittaya Kaewparadai.

Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang, chief of the Special Case Operations Centre at the DSI, said he had not been contacted by any of the PDRC leaders as of press time yesterday(Wednesday). No special police taskforce will be deployed at the DSI today, as Paisit believed DSI officers can maintain peace and order if many protesters show up. The only precaution will be a metal fence placed around the DSI headquarters.

The nine face charges under articles 113, 116,

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

Thailand News Today | Pfizer vaccines on the way, Phuket’s July re-opening | May 7

Thaiger

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Disease Control Department back-peddled saying that that foreigners living in Thailand WILL also be vaccinated, governor of Chiang Mai is calling for the ban on dining in at restaurants in the northern city to be lifted and for eateries to be allowed to serve food on-site until 9pm, Tourism and Sports Minister insists the southern island of Phuket must record zero Covid-19 cases if a planned July re-opening is to go ahead, and 150 million baht worth of methamphetamine pills were impounded in Nakhon Phanom yesterday

 

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Economy

Stimulus package gives more back the more you spend

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A new stimulus package aims to get the middle class spending. (via Flickr - Marco Verch)

A new stimulus package targeting middle and high-income people aims at increasing spending by offering more e-voucher the more you spend. Ying Chai Ying Dai, which translates to “the more you spend the more you get”, will reward those who spend between 46,000 and 70,000 baht with a 7,000 baht e-voucher. This part of the government’s 225 billion baht stimulus package hopes to encourage 4 million qualifying middle- to upper-class people to spend more money by refunding 10-15% back, according to the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office.

People wishing to participate must register and make their purchases through a government e-wallet system. The system works by refunding 10 to 15% of purchases with a maximum of 7,000 baht. So at 15%, a person who spent 46,000 baht would receive back the full 7,000. On the 10% scheme, 70,000 baht in spending would be necessary to reach 7,000 cashback. No details were available on what determines the percentage level.

An additional 2,000 baht will be available for people participating in the “Section 33 Rao Rak Kan” and “Rao Chana” scheme. The plans are expected to push 85.5 billion Baht back into the economy as recipients must spend the cash by the end of June.

The 50/50 stimulus program that has been popular with the government covering half of what people spend for half for food, drink, and other items up to 150 baht per person per day will also be expanded. That plan began on October 23, and ended at the end of 2020, covering 10 million people with each receiving 3000 baht. The second phase of the popular program added 5 million more people and raised the limit to 3,500 baht per person.

A third phase of the “Khon La Khrueng” stimulus plan is expected to begin in July with participants getting a maximum of 3,500 baht each to spend, and opening the program to 16 million new people. This massive expansion though will stipulate that anyone participating in this program cannot also participate in the Ying Chai Ying Dai scheme.

All of these cash and voucher benefits aimed at supporting vulnerable groups, along with cash handouts for people who have state welfare cards, are part of 245 billion baht the government is spending in an attempt to keep the economy from collapsing. This falls under an emergency loan decree allocating the government 1 trillion baht total to cope with Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Thailand

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

2,044 new Covid-19 cases and 27 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,320 active Covid-19 cases. 1,170 Covid patients are in critical condition including 367 on ventilators.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 78,855 Covid-19 infections and 363 virus-related deaths.

Out of 27 new fatalities, patients were ages 30 to 90. Most of the deaths were in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Several contacted the virus from family members.

Provinces with the highest number of new confirmed cases…

Province New cases Total cases since April 1
Bangkok 869 16,917
Nonthaburi 201 3,032
Samut Prakan 165 2,902
Chon Buri 89 3,128
Samut Sakhon 69 1,299
Surat Thani 60 1,035
Pathum Thani 39 1,099
Chiang Mai 33 3,180
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 32 607
Nakhon Pathom 29 746
Ranong 29 329

 

Districts in Bangkok with the highest number of confirmed cases…

District New cases
Khlong Toei 46
Pathum Wan 24
Bang Khae 24
Lat Phrao 13
Ratchathewi 10
Pom Prap Sattru Phai 9
Bueng Kum 9
Phasi Charoen 8
Bang Khun Thian 8
Din Daeng 8

Covid UPDATE: 2,044 new cases and 27 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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