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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 Gazette Thailand News: Suthep declares People’s Revolution; Yingluck emotional in announcing dissolution; Feb 2 election; Mega-projects in doubt | The Thaiger
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– 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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth



Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.


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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth



MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.


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