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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Senators walk on Charter change; Korn calls B2tn bluff; Baht dips; Yingluck wants quality

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Senators walk on Charter change; Korn calls B2tn bluff; Baht dips; Yingluck wants quality | The Thaiger

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

Six senators withdraw support for charter amendment bills
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Six senators have withdrawn their names supporting three bills for Constitution amendment submitted to Parliament on Wednesday.

Some said the content of the amendment in the submitted bills had been changed after Pheu Thai MPs discussed the bill with the senators, asking for their support.

Their decision, however, will not affect the move to push for charter amendment. The three amendment bills have been co-sponsored by coalition MPs and many senators, including some appointed senators. Among 248 signatures supporting three separate bills submitted on Wednesday, 50-60 signatures came from senators.

The law requires one-fifth of the total MPs (100) or total parliamentarians (130 MPs and senators) to propose charter change.

Senator Nirand Praditkul said yesterday that he and five other senators had withdrawn their names from backing the amendment bills.

The five other senators are Mahannop Dejwithak, Jarupong Jinaphan, Jongrak Chuthanon, Wirat Phanitpong and Khachorn Saiwat.

Nirand said when he and other senators signed their names in support of the amendments, they were told that only three Articles would be amended without mentioning Article 68. Nirand said he and the other senators disagreed with the amendment of Article 68 because it would restrict the people’s right to seek rulings from the Constitution Court.

Meanwhile, Senate Speaker Nikom Waiyaratphanich yesterday expressed support for Pheu Thai’s three bills seeking to amend four provisions of the charter, expecting them to sail through Parliament.

Nikom said the proposed amendments would be useful for the country and would not be done to benefit a particular group of people as alleged by the so-called clique of 40 senators. He added that the proposed amendment to Article 190 would make Thailand more competitive in the world market, while the proposed amendment to Article 237 to abolish party dissolution penalty would promote the development of political parties.

The proposed amendment to Article 237 seeks to grant exemption from parliamentary vetting for international agreements deemed to impact economic, social and security affairs. Nikom said the proposed amendment to require all senators to come through the election process would allow the people to elect their senators.

He said he backed charter amendments not because he wanted to help particular political parties or because he had received an order from former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

He said he supported the four provision amendments because Nonthaburi Senator Direk Thuengfung, who chaired a reconciliation panel, had proposed similar amendments.

The speaker admitted that amendment of the party dissolution provision would benefit the former 109 executives of three disbanded political parties if the amendments are done fast. But Nikom said the amendments would not be done before December, after which the 109 executives would come out of their five-year political ban.

“So, the amendments will not benefit any particular group,” he said. He added that he also supported the amendment to Article 68 that seeks to ban individuals from having direct access to the Constitution Court to initiate litigation for disbanding a party.

Nikom said the amendment would not limit the rights of individuals but would simply set guidelines on how to seek rulings of the Constitution Court. He said he did not think the Office of the Attorney-General would be dominated by politicians in power.

Nikom also reprimanded the group-of-40, who had come out to oppose the three amendment bills. He said they used to be members of the post-coup National Legislative Assembly before they were appointed senators. All in all, the 40 senators would have been in office for 11 years. “Now, when the people will have the right to elect senators, they are afraid of their future,” he said.

Nikom said yesterday that senators were senior people who should not have been fooled. Those who gave their names in support of charter amendments only to withdraw their names later, then “should go to hell”.

Opposition and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Democrats would check the three bills thoroughly before the party makes its stand.

He added that he had preliminarily seen that the amendments would limit the people’s rights and these amendments might be unconstitutional.

Korn questions Bt2-tn loan bill
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Democrat Party deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij yesterday expressed serious concerns about the Bt2-trillion infrastructure borrowing bill proposed by the Yingluck Shinawatra government as it might violate the Constitution, which stipulates that any government expenditure should be allocated only through the fiscal expenditure budget bill.

Speaking on the Business Talk programme on Krungthep Turakij TV, he said if the borrowing were more transparent, Parliament would be able to systematically evaluate the details of the infrastructure projects proposed by the government. The government also needed to declare to Parliament what they would do about the projects. Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry could study the sources of the finances to invest in the projects.

“As the opposition, we will seek the Constitution Court’s interpretation of the Bt2-trillion bill – whether it violates the law,” said Korn, a former finance minister.

Korn said he agreed and supported the Yingluck government’s investment in the country’s infrastructure and communications system, which would account for about 80 per cent of the Bt2-trillion budget. The government, however, had not revealed any details of the infrastructure investment projects or even conducted a feasibility study if the projects are worth developing.

“My only concern is the source of the investment and the way they got the money,” he noted.

The Bt2-trillion infrastructure borrowing bill, which will allow the government to raise the entire amount by end-2020 and require it to clear the debt in 50 years, got the Cabinet’s approval on Tuesday. Including accumulated interest, the total loan burden for the Bt2-trillion budget will be about Bt5.1 trillion.

Korn said that the B2-trillion bill gave no information about the infrastructure projects. The bill only gave legal authority to the government to provide a huge amount of loans. They provide no guarantee on returning by those borrowing the money, whether it will be worth it or not.

“I believe in the government’s ability to facilitate nominal GDP growth at 7 per cent annually as the actual GDP growth will be about 4 per cent plus another 3 per cent inflation. However, the government’s rice-pledging scheme will create a big loan burden of Bt410 billion by the end of this year, and the burden will be increased by between Bt200 billion and Bt300 billion every year as long as the government continued its rice-pledging scheme. This means that the public debt level will be increased by 2 per cent and 3 per cent of GDP every year,” Korn said.

He add that if the government continued to push policies that damaged the country, Thailand’s economy had a high possibility of a crisis as the level of public debt would surge to between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Korn gave the example

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Technology

True to introduce 5G with help from China Mobile

Greeley Pulitzer

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True to introduce 5G with help from China Mobile | The Thaiger

Kittinut Tikawan, president of Thai communication giant True Corporation, says True Move H Universal Communication plans a soft launch of 5G wireless broadband in Thailand within 2-3 months, through close collaboration with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator.

5G mobile communications will allow virtually ‘instant’ delivery of video and services with remarkable leaps in speeds, at least 10-fold. The new technology has also been embroiled in claims of health hazards relating to the new technology but studies remain ongoing without conclusive evidence of any danger. The US Federal Communication Commissions says… “the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

“China Mobile is a good role model for True, providing services to more than 900 million subscribers.”

China Mobile, already a leading commercial 5G provider, has rolled out 5G cell sites in some 40 cities in China, including 3,000 in Chengdu, in south-west China, alone. Speaking in Chengdu at a partnership meeting with China Mobile’s representatives, he said full 5G adoption in Thailand is expected by 2021, adding that 5G adoption would provide outstanding new experiences for consumers, including virtual reality and augmented reality, all in real time.

“5G adoption in the beginning stages will be seen in major cities with population and business density, as well as close proximity to industrial zones. The low cost of digital infrastructure for 5G would help promote 5G adoption throughout Thailand.

He said 5G adoption should be added to the Thai national agenda.

“The government is establishing a national 5G committee, which indicates they understand 5G is a critical issue for the country.”

Source: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Over 100 million baht worth of assets seized from Thai drug dealers

May Taylor

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Over 100 million baht worth of assets seized from Thai drug dealers | The Thaiger

The homes of three alleged drug traffickers have been raided in a joint operation between Thai police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Thai Residents reports that two of the alleged drug traffickers are women and the raids took place in Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Sukothai provinces.

It’s understood that more than 100 million baht worth of assets has been seized, 6 million of which was in cold hard cash. Officers also confiscated nine cars, four motorbikes, ten watches, gold, and sixteen bank books showing 25 million baht between them.

The DEA’s role in Thailand is to support the Thai government’s anti-narcotics drive while working to track down those responsible for trafficking illegal drugs to the US and other countries. It has three Thai offices, located in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Udon Thani in the north-east, which also coordinate DEA operations in Laos and Cambodia.

These latest raids are reported to be the largest such operation this year.

SOURCE: Thai Residents

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