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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Songkran death toll hits 161; Red shirt Ko Tee cut adrift; Gen Prem urged to resolve crisis

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

โ€“ Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Drunk driving ramps up Songkran road death toll
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Some 161 people have been killed and 1,640 injured in 1,539 road accidents in the first three days of Songkran – with most accidents the result of drink driving, the Road Safety Centre reported yesterday.

While the death toll was lower than last year by 13, the number of accidents and injuries rose by 93 and 114 respectively.

Nakhon Ratchasima had the most deaths (10), while Nakhon Si Thammarat had the most road accidents (64) and the most injuries (69).

Chaiyaphum was the only province with no reports of crashes, while 13 provinces had no deaths – Mae Hong Son, Uthai Thani, Chaiyaphum, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Chai Nat, Nakhon Nayok, Phetchaburi, Lop Buri, Angthong, Narathiwat, Phang Nga and Yala.

On Sunday, 59 people were killed and 747 injured nationwide in 689 accidents.

Drink driving remained the top factor behind accidents (42 per cent) followed by speeding (24 per cent).

Most accidents involved motorcycles (76 per cent) and pick-up trucks (15 per cent). Over half (63 per cent) occurred on a straight stretch of road, with most taking place from 4pm to 8pm.

Over half (53 per cent) of the victims were of working age.

Some 2,276 checkpoints nationwide have been manned by 66,571 officials.

Some 685,803 vehicles have been stopped and 114,018 people arrested and fined for offences – most were motorcyclists who failed to wear a helmet (34,674 cases) and people who failed to present a driver’s licence (32,408 cases).

The Public Health Ministry reported that the accidents were more severe than last year, with 65 per cent of fatalities instant.

The ministry’s emergency medical hotline 1669 has received 12,578 calls with medical units were sent out to 3,937 cases.

The ministry found 522 violators of alcohol bans in inspections from Friday to Sunday – 330 of whom received warnings while 192 others face prosecution.

The most common offence with 113 cases was engaging in marketing activities for the sale of alcohol, punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to Bt500,000.

That was followed by selling alcohol outside permitted times with 34 cases, punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a Bt4,000 fine.

New role eyed for Prem
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda should act as a mediator to broker between authorities in all sectors to draft a covenant under Royal command on how the country is to be ruled in times of crisis, a group of retired prominent bureaucrats proposed yesterday.

Former supreme commander Saiyud Kerdphol, the leader of the group, which calls itself “Rattha Bukkon”, or “Man of the State”, said that once the covenant was issued, the public was expected to accept it. Saiyud did not say whether the covenant would lead to reform, or whether his group’s proposal was in support of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which is pushing an agenda of reform prior to the next general election.

“Our role is to advise on who in society would take which roles. The content of the covenant would be decided by the people who would take over,” he said at a press conference titled “The Way Out for Thailand: When [Prime Minister] Yingluck Is Illegitimate to Govern, Both Legally and Practically” held at a Bangkok hotel.

Retired General Saiyud said Prem had been informed of the proposal that he take on the mediator role, in the form of a written request and published articles, but he had not yet given a reply. Saiyud stressed that this mediator role was a position that would not exercise the King’s power under the Constitution’s Article 7.

The group regard General Prem as a statesman whose status is not merely ceremonial, but carries with it a duty to serve the country and the King under his royal command. On this basis they want him to commence the process of issuing a covenant, as the country is in trouble, Saiyud said. “We wish to see Statesman Prem broker between authorities in all sectors including the judiciary, the military and social leaders, to work out a covenant for the King to endorse,” he added.

He said his group’s proposal was immediately actionable, as the country had endured enough hardship. “Even [if] the PDRC’s reform is implemented and leads to the setting up of a new government after the election, the other side would likely begin to resist it and repeat what the PDRC has done, which would lead to the country’s crisis continuing,” he said.

Saiyud said independent academic Pramote Nakhonthap – who attended the session – had coordinated between Prem and the group. Pramote repeated later that his group’s proposal would not encroach on the King’s authority, or create any difficulties for him.

The dean of the National Institute of Development Administration’s Faculty of Law, Banjerd Singkaneti, said the group’s proposal could be implemented prior to a political vacuum, such as the current stalemate, actually developing, although another option was available – exercising Article 7 through a Senate speaker after such a vacuum developed. “Whichever way leads to success, I think all efforts are welcome from members of the public to come up with initiatives to find a way out in the meantime,” he added.

Also present at the event were retired deputy Air Force chief-of-staff ACM Therdsak Sajjaraksa, former National Housing Authority governor Prasai Songsuwet.

Pheu Thai sources said earlier that fugitive de-facto party leader Thaksin Shinawatra had instructed party legal advisers to fight to ensure that even if future rulings are made against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra or the party’s policies, Pheu Thai could remain in power with a deputy premier or another cabinet member carrying on the government’s caretaker status.

The sources said Thaksin ordered that a general election had to be held as quickly as possible, with a member of the Shinawatra family as the candidate of Pheu Thai party. The sources visited Thaksin in Hong Kong last week, but only told reporters of Thaksin’s orders yesterday.

According to the sources, Thaksin does not expect there to be a coup, or that there will be any violence, because the red shirts in general and the Pheu Thai-allied United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship in particular would not stage any public gatherings near those of rival political groups.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva dismissed caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri’s idea of seeking a royal judgement in case of a political vacuum. Such a practice was inappropriate towards the monarchy and would not be possible, he said.

A proposal that he himself had made under Article 7 when he was in power was different in many ways from Chaikasem’s. Hee had asked in 2006 that Thaksin and his Cabinet resign, and for Thaksin to later request a royally appointed prime minister.

The proposal stemmed from public demand and the anti-Thaksin movement, and that he had not endorsed the move.

Hardliner red-shirt Ko Tee cut adrift over royalty remarks
— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Myanmar

Former pageant queen in Myanmar sides with ethnic armies opposing military coup

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Htar Htet Htet

A former pageant queen Htar Htet Htet has been vocal about her opposition to the military takeover in her home country, Myanmar. But recently, she took her stance even farther by posting a photo of herself in a black combat outfit with an assault rifle, showing support for the ethnic armies fighting against the state military.

The Myanmar military took over the civilian government in February, ousting the state counsellor who had won the election in a landslide. Since then around 750 people have been killed by security forces.

Ethnic armies that occupy border regions have opposed the military takeover, including the prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union. Recently, Karen troops attacked and took over a state military outpost near the Thai border. Around 2,000 people have fled to Thailand to escape the violence.

The 32 year old, who represented Mynamar in the 2013 Miss Grand International pageant in Thailand, wrote on Facebook saying “the time has come to fight back.”

“Whether you hold a weapon, pen, keyboard or donate money to the pro-democracy movement, everyone must do their bit for the revolution to succeed.

I will fight back as much as I can. I am ready and prepared to give up everything. I am even ready to pay with my life.”

Former pageant queen in Myanmar sides with ethnic armies opposing military coup | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Bangkok

More than 2,000 inmates in Bangkok test positive for Covid-19

Tanutam Thawan

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Bangkok Remand Prison / Google

More than 2,000 inmates at the Bangkok Remand Prison and at the Women’s Correctional Institution have tested positive for Covid-19. The announcement from the Department of Corrections follows the recent news that a protest leader tested positive for Covid-19 after spending 8 weeks in jail awaiting trial for lese majeste charges.

Pro-democracy activist Panusya “Rung” Sithijirawattanaku made a post on Facebook saying she tested positive for Covid-19. She had been held in the Women’s Correctional Institution for 59 days and was released on bail on May 6.

The Department of Corrections says 2,835 inmates have tested positive for the virus including 1,795 at Bangkok Remand Prison, making up more than half the prison population. A source told the Bangkok Post there is a total of 3,238 inmates at the prison.

The other 1,040 infections are inmates at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution. The prison has a population of 4,518 inmates.

Those with severe symptoms are admitted to hospitals outside the prison while the other infected inmates are being treated at field hospitals set up at the prisons or at the Corrections Hospital, according to Corrections Department director-general Aryut Sinthoppan.

“The Corrections Department has ordered all correctional facilities to set up an area for quarantine and a field hospital, with doctors and nurses on duty to provide treatment for the infected inmates… We also plan to inoculate all detainees. We are only waiting for an allocation of vaccines from relevant agencies.”

Aryut says those at high risk of infection are now in quarantine. New inmates are in quarantine for 21 days and must test negative for Covid-19 twice before being released to the general prison population.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways decision, Covid Update, farmer hit by lightning | May 12

Tanutam Thawan

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34 Covid-related deaths reported today, today is a big day in the long-running Thai Airways saga, with 13,000 creditors voting on whether or not to accept the struggling airlineโ€™s rehabilitation plan, An unfortunate farmer has been struck and killed by lightning in his rice field in the Phon Sawan district of Nakhon Phanom, British activist Andy Hall has been finally cleared of the last pending charge and anti-government protest leader has finally been granted bail after 10 requests

 

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