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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Six dead in elephant crash; Bt2-tn loan bill rejected; Rate cut brings little joy

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Six people and an elephant killed in accidents
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A total of six people and an elephant were killed yesterday when a Pajero crashed into three wild elephants crossing Ban Beung-Klaeng Road at 4am yesterday in Rayong’s Wang Chan district.

One of the victims was identified as Singaporean Jonathan Bowen Lim. Three elephants were injured but a male later succumbed to injuries.

The Pajero carrying four people crashed into the elephants, killing two of its passengers at the scene.

While rescue workers were using heavy machines to remove the injured victims from the wrecked vehicle, a six-wheel truck slowed down to watch the rescue and a tailing Toyota Vigo pickup ran into its rear. The pickup truck driver was instantly killed and three others wounded.

Two injured passengers from the Pajero and a passenger of the pickup were later pronounced dead in hospital.

DNP deputy director general Theerapat Prayurasiddhi said the injured elephants would be sent for medical treatment at Kasetsart University’s Kamphaengsaen campus or Khao Khiew Khao Chompu Wildlife Sanctuary.

Meanwhile, the owner of a female domesticated elephant that died last year in official care, has filed a lawsuit in the Civil Court for Bt2.5 million in compensation from the state natural resources and wildlife protection agency.

The civil court will hold the first hearing of this case on May 19.

The elephant named “Tang Mo” was three years and eight months old when it died of unknown causes.

Natiwin Amornsin, owner of the young elephant, said his compensation lawsuit was the first of its kind against the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Tang Mo had been seized by the department in 2012 and died last year. “Her death was unusual,” Natiwin said.

The department seized the elephant, suspecting it could be classified as a wild elephant. Natiwin was unable to show elephant identification documents for it and the animal was placed in the care of the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.

Officials, however, took no action against Natiwin as they had insufficient evidence to prove his elephant was a wild one.

He told them he had bought the elephant for Bt790,000 from local sellers in the northeastern province of Buri Ram in 2010, when Tang Mo was two years old.

“I have all documents [needed] to prove that my elephant was domesticated and not a wild elephant,” he said.

“No one from the department said sorry to me for the death of my elephant,” he added.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Chote Trachu said his agency would pay Natiwin’s compensation if the court ordered the ministry to do so.

The department’s acting director-general, Nipon Chotibal, said according to an internal investigation, no officials were involved in the death of Natiwin’s elephant.

“No one neglected their duties in taking care of her,” he said.

Surasit Mutusahim, a member of a committee tasked to resolve the problem, said his committee had instructed the government to pay over Bt2 million for Natiwin as compensation for the death of his elephant in November last year, but so far there had been no progress with the payment.

Bt2-tn loan bill rejected
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The government’s Bt2-trillion borrowing bill for infrastructure projects, including high-speed railway, was yesterday unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the charter court in a much-awaited verdict, making the entire caretaker Cabinet and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra liable to impeachment.

The verdict brings the second impeachment risk for Yingluck after the National Anti-Corruption Commission decided to press charge of negligence in the controversial rice-pledging scheme against her. If Yingluck is found guilty of dereliction, the NACC will forward her case to the Senate for impeachment.

The Constitutional Court voted 9-0 to rule the content of the bill unconstitutional, while there was a 6-2 vote with one judge abstaining over the bill being passed in procedural violation of the charter following coalition MPs voting with others’ identity cards.

The court ruled the entire bill unconstitutional, saying the main content violated Article 154 (3) of the charter.

Former Democrat Party MP Wiratana Kalayasiri, a party legal adviser who lodged a petition against the bill with the charter court, said that he would pursue the impeachment of Yingluck and her Cabinet. He thanked the judiciary for foreseeing the bad effects that would have been brought by the bill, and saving Thailand from being indebted with loans for 50 years or longer.

The verdict is a major blow to the caretaker administration, which has been engulfed with several legal and political setbacks, while serving as a boost for the anti-government movement. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee crowd at Lumpini Park cheered and jeered loudly when news about the verdict was read out to them by rally leaders on-stage.

Yingluck, speaking on a tour in Chaiyaphum yesterday, said she deplored the verdict against the Bt2-trillion bill, saying the government had done what it could to develop the country’s connectivity and infrastructure to compete with other countries in the region. She said she hoped that the next or future governments would carry out the projects. “It’s an opportunity to every Thai, not just to a government,” she said. Asked if she felt she was treated unfairly, Yingluck turned away and walked up to meet with a group of supporters.

Before interacting with the media, Yingluck had lunch with Cabinet members and provincial authorities. She appeared tense after learning of the verdict and was seen in discussions with two Cabinet members.

Core leader Satit Wongnongtaey said the Yingluck Cabinet would need to step down even as a caretaker government, especially as the rejected bill was a monetary legislation that subjected any government to an extra burden of political responsibility.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said Yingluck should quit, and keep a commitment made earlier by her own deputy, Phongthep Thepkanjana, who had said Yingluck would need to show responsibility “in one away or another” if the bill pushed by the Pheu Thai-led government was ruled unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) vice president Tanit Sorat took the court decision in his stride, saying there would be less worry about the country’s public debt levels.

However, caretaker Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said yesterday the Bt2-trillion loan to finance infrastructure projects would have increased the country’s competitiveness and pushed 3 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP).

Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Kittiratt said the past 10 years had seen a sharp drop in investment in Thailand to 20-23 per cent of GDP, compared to 35-42 per cent of GDP before 1997. The low investment would make the country less competitive.

The property sector is expected to be impacted the most by the court verdict as they had speculated on some plots of land. Some developers said they would slow down their investments.

Chakporn Oojitt, executive director of

— 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.

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