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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep declares People’s Revolution; Yingluck emotional in announcing dissolution; Feb 2 election; Mega-projects in doubt

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

People’s revolution declared
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: His Majesty the King endorses House dissolution decree, national election set for February 2; some academics agree with protesters, but urge both sides to talk and find a solution

Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government protest, announced last night that the public would appoint a new prime minister and government, as well as a “people’s council” to act as the legislature following what he termed a “people’s revolution”.

He made this announcement outside Government House before a large crowd of protesters who had marched for hours from nine locations across the capital. Suthep, himself, had taken part in the 20-kilometre march from the Government Complex in Nonthaburi.

In the morning, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had dissolved the House of Representatives and called for a new general election. His Majesty the King endorsed the decree on House dissolution in the evening. The election date was later set for February 2.

Suthep, who is secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said in a live broadcast that the people had “recalled the power” from the government, which he described as corrupt, dishonest and unfaithful.

He pointed to acts by the government and the Pheu Thai-dominated lower house that resulted in a loss of trust. This included the bill that would give blanket amnesty to politicians sentenced in corruption cases and offenders of serious crimes during the recent political unrest.

Suthep said the people had the right to take back the government’s power, as the administration had abused its authority and violated the rule of law and good governance, hence the PDRC could invoke Article 3 of the Constitution. It states: “The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as head of state shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

Describing the protest movement as “pracha phiwat” or people’s revolution, Suthep likened PDRC to the “sovereign power” obtained by coup-makers following a successful takeover.

“We will work on change, reform and the happiness of people in the entire country, regardless of their political preferences. There will be fairness to everyone,” Suthep said.

He also summoned government officials to report to the PDRC and suggested that a “peacekeeping force of volunteers” be set up in every province, which he said would “serve as an important force” for protesters in their fight in the future.

Suthep also urged the demonstrators to continue with their push for political reform. “We have invested a lot together and we have to succeed, or we won’t return home,” he said.

Earlier in the day, in her nationally broadcast address, Yingluck said: “The government does not wish to see political conflict escalate into national division and violence. Returning power to the people by dissolving the House and calling a general election is a democratic and acceptable recourse. Let a majority of the people decide the direction and who they want to run the country.”

Pheu Thai Party resolved late yesterday to contest the next general election with Yingluck as its first party-list candidate to become the next PM.

Wirat Kalayasiri, who resigned on Sunday as opposition Democrat MP along with 151 other party MPs, said yesterday that dissolving the House was “not enough”. He called on the caretaker Cabinet to resign en masse, and the majority of the outgoing and incoming members of the five-person Election Commission to resign so that an election could not be held.

Wirat suggested that the Senate Speaker should nominate a neutral prime minister for royal endorsement. A new caretaker Cabinet should spend six months to one year amending necessary laws for reform and to make way for a new election.

He said the Democrat Party would convene later to come up with a joint proposal on this.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Vechayachai yesterday said he saw no good reason why the Democrats should boycott the next general election. He said the prime minister had done her best in order to defuse a crisis – offering an apology and returning power to the people.

He challenged the protest leaders’ demand for Yingluck to resign as caretaker premier, as the Constitution states the PM has to continue with the caretaker role until the new election is held.

“House dissolution is the best the prime minister can do. We may be called the losers if you like, but we just want peace to be restored in the country. We are not afraid of losing. Winning or losing, let’s fight it out in the election,” Phumtham said.

Academics agreed they did not think that dissolving the House was a way out – though they also did not view the proposal for a people’s council and an unelected interim government as a solution either.

Jade Donavanik, of Siam University’s Faculty of Law, said that with a House dissolution failing to satisfy protesters, having an election when the conflict was still simmering would only bring more problems to the country. He suggested the government resign as caretaker administration and pave the way for a neutral Cabinet to take over. He also called on the protesters not to insist on their demand for a people’s council.

Kanit na Nakorn, chairman of the Committee for Legal Reform, said the prime minister’s decision to dissolve the House came too late. He noted that the current situation was similar to one after the student-led uprising in October 1973 that brought down a dictatorial government and forced government leaders to flee the country.

Assadang Panikabutr, former dean of Ramkhamhaeng University’s Faculty of Political Science, called on Yingluck and Suthep to have a dialogue in order to settle differences. He did not think House dissolution would solve the political stalemate but said the government had made its decision.

Prachak Kongkirati, a political scientist at Thammasat, said a House dissolution was the best option in the current situation to avoid bloodshed. He urged the Democrat Party to take part in the next election.

Academic Nidhi Eoseewong voiced opposition to the idea of having an unelected people’s council. He said people’s representatives must be elected. Nidhi said that after the House dissolution, political parties had to comply with the existing legal path by taking part in the next election.

Suthep pushes on
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives yesterday failed to satisfy leaders of the anti-government protest, who insisted on her also stepping down as head of government.

The protesters demanded the government be replaced by a non-elected “people’s council” and an interim administration that consists of no politicians. This proposed interim administration and “people’s council” should implement political reform for one year or one-and-a -half years before being dissolved to make way for a general election, some protest leaders said.

Key protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, speaking after leading a march to Government House, urged the demonstrators to continue with their push for political reform.

“We have invested a lot together and we have to succeed, or

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Phuket

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

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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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