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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep sets D-Day Monday; Referendum proposed; Baht falls; Fears over New Year gouging; Floods in South

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suthep sets D-Day Monday; Referendum proposed; Baht falls; Fears over New Year gouging; Floods in South | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Suthep sets December 9 as D-day against Thaksin Regime
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Anti-government rally leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Friday night set December 9 as the D-Day for what he called “people’s uprising” against the Thaksin Regime and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

Speaking at the rally site at the Government Complex, Suthep, who is charged with sedition, said that on the morning of December 9, he would lead protesters on a march to the Government House despite the time this would take. Protesters from other rally sites at Rajdamnoen and Makkawan would also start to march simultaneously at 9.39am.

Once when they arrive at the Government House, they will not force entry into the premises with the intention of occupying it. Instead, they will conduct the protest outside the venue.

He called for people to leave their offices and homes to join the demonstrations and show their desire to uproot the Thaksin Regime as well as the corrupt and illegitimate government of Yingluck Shinawatra. He challenged people those who preferred to stay home or did not want to join, saying “you can do that if you want to let the Thaksin Regime control you for the rest of your life.”

He reiterated that once he leaves the rally site, he will not go back. “I will not turn back. I will fight until the end. I will accept the results of the December 9 battle. If we don’t win, I will turn myself in to face the charges against me,” he told the cheering crowds. He once again underlined that there would be no violence as the protesters are not armed.

He also warned people of heavy traffic that day because of the march by protesters from the rally sites.

Referendum proposed on setting up people’s council
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Ukrit Mongkolnavin, chairman of the Independent National Rule of Law Commission, yesterday proposed that Article 165 of the Constitution be invoked to hold a public referendum on the proposal to establish a people’s council.

Ukrit raised the proposal during a discussion with House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranon and Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij at Parliament.

Ukrit said the referendum would end disputes between the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the government over the issue.

“Under the democratic system, the voice of the people is the most important. If we want a real solution, we should invoke Article 165 for all people to have a say. All 60 million Thais should be asked instead of having just 200,000 decide what should be done,” Ukrit said.

Political science students from 14 universities yesterday called on the government and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to hold transparent talks to achieve a constitutional solution for the country.

The two-point proposal was submitted in the morning by 20 student representatives to Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana at Government House, who promised it would be considered by the government along with other proposals. The universities include Thammasat, Chulalongkorn, Kasetsart, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.

The student representatives told Phongthep political science students from the 14 universities came up with the proposal during a recent seminar. They called on the government and the Suthep-led People’s Democratic Reform Committee to urgently and transparently negotiate a solution that is possible under the charter.

Their second proposal was that political reform should be carried out via charter amendments that provide a level playing field for all groups to express their opinions.

Phongthep replied that the government was gathering opinions on a solution and that the students’ proposal would be considered along with other proposals put forward by academics.

He said he would later invite people with interesting ideas to discuss them. Permanent Secretary for Justice Kittipong Kityarak had been assigned to gather all the opinions and proposals, he added.

The deputy prime minister said the government would give its full attention to the opinions put forward as soon as possible.

But he said Suthep’s proposal to seek a royally-granted prime minister, by invoking Article 7 of the charter, was impossible. It had been achieved in 1973, he said, because the charter at that time allowed it.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang said yesterday it was unconstitutional to invoke Article 3 and 7 to set up a people’s council and seek to have a prime minister appointed by His Majesty. He said Article 291 needed to be amended first to make Suthep’s proposals possible.

“But someone must sponsor this charter amendment bill. The protesters are refusing to propose a charter amendment bill and instead are resorting to intimidating and creating turmoil,” Chaturon said.

Internal, external factors combine to drag down baht
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The protests that have rocked Bangkok, and uncertainties over US intentions on its quantitative easing (QE) programme have put pressure on the baht, which continues to depreciate.

Benjarong Suwankiri, head of TMB Analytics at TMB Bank, said the depreciating baht and the stock market’s slump resulted from a mix of internal and external causes.

Externally, the United States is expected to taper its asset purchases soon, while locally, the protests against the government have been prolonged, prompting foreign capital to flee Thailand consistently. If the political protests, which started on November 1, drag on much longer, more foreign capital would move out, which would pull the Thai currency down further, Benjarong said.

The baht softened to 32.359 per US dollar yesterday, the weakest level since September 6, according to Bloomberg. It has declined 3.7 per cent since the demonstrations began.

The baht has weakened faster than expected, he said. The earlier estimate was 32.50 per dollar by mid-December. However, the currency weakened early in the month, reflecting consistent foreign-capital outflows, while the Thai capital markets have seen shorter foreign investors’ equity holdings on expectations of QE tapering in the near term.

The local protests, which have continued for more than a month, have been affecting the Thai economy and investor confidence at a certain level and could affect next year’s growth, Benjarong said. Foreign tourists have recently changed their behaviour, spending less time in Bangkok and more in other provinces.

Gross domestic product expanded by 2.7 per cent in the third quarter year on year, the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2012. The Bank of Thailand and the Fiscal Policy Office have lowered their 2013 growth estimates to about 3 per cent, while Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has conceded that the actual figure could be even lower.

Benjarong said the markets had been waiting for the government’s measures to stimulate growth next year.

The SET Index has dropped 16 per cent since the US Federal Reserve said on May 22 it might reduce its US$85 billion (Bt2.7 trillion) of monthly bond purchases, according to Bloomberg. The index yesterday slumped by 15.06 points to 1,361.57.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat Na Rano

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Economy

Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment

Caitlin Ashworth

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Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment | The Thaiger
PHOTO: CP Foods

To help reduce unemployment and boost the economy after the pandemic, 8,000 graduates will be hired by the company Charoen Pokphand Foods, known as CP Foods. Thailand’s Ministry of Labour recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the company.

4,000 of those jobs will be in Bangkok and metropolitan areas while the other 4,000 more in the upcountry. The job offers vary from positions in the computer science field to positions in the culinary industry.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin says the government has a policy to unite all sectors of the society to revive the economy from the coronavirus crisis that caused job cuts, leaving many unemployed, especially new graduates.

He adds that CP Foods has been constantly supporting the government in Covid-19 relief effort since the beginning of the outbreak. This post Covid-19 collaboration will create stability for people at all levels and build more small and medium sized enterprise, or SME, owners that are the foundation of Thai economy.

There’s also a discount coupon giveaway from CP Foods and the minister says it will help reduce cost of living for people who are eligible for social security benefits.

CEO of CP Foods Prasit Boondoungprasert says CP Foods is managed in line with the parent group CP Group’s policy, to solve the Thailand’s unemployment problem, particularly for new graduates, by creating job opportunities and job security. He says it’s an “engine for economic revival.”

CP Foods will also provide a business opportunity for SME franchises like FiveStar and STAR Coffee, which need a small budget and small space to kick off.

The company will also offer training courses with experts to guide them to start up the business. It expects to create 4,500 franchise owners nationwide.

CP Foods will have a book at the Job Expo Thailand 2020 this Saturday until Monday at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centres, or BITEC. Those interested can click HERE for more information.

To learn more about starting a FiveStar franchise click HERE and for a STAR Coffee franchise click HERE.

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Thailand

Empire strikes back: Thai royalists oppose constitution changes

Caitlin Ashworth

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Empire strikes back: Thai royalists oppose constitution changes | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Warong Dechgitvigrom

Just after proposed constitutional amendments, backed by pro-democracy supporters, were submitted to the Thai parliament, the Thai Pakdee royalist group filed a petition with 130,000 signatures saying they are against making changes to the constitution.

Pro-democracy activists have been demanding a rewrite of the Thai constitution at protests over the past few months. The nonprofit organisation Internet Law Reform Dialogue, known as iLaw, drafted amendments including one that would require all senators and local administrators to be elected. Currently Thailand’s entire Senate is hand-picked by the ruling party. More than 100,000 people back the proposed changes.

“There’s no need to make changes”, according to Former Democrat MP and leader of Thai Pakdee Warong Dechgitvigrom. He says the 2017 Constitution was approved by 16.8 million people (Thailand’s population is 69.4 million).

“Redoing the process would cost 15 billion baht in taxpayer money. On top of that, it would require 2 referenda and a general election.”

According to Thai PBS, 84 of the 250 senators need to be on board to move forward with revisions to the constitution. At the moment, around 60 of them are in favour of constitutional amendments while 100 oppose any changes and the rest are undecided. But Senators against the amendments might change their minds, according to Senate whip Sangsit Phiriyarangsan. He says he believes more senators will be in favour of making some amendments after hearing debates in parliament.

SOURCES: Thai PBS

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Surachet sues, The Nude Panda | September 23

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Thailand News Today | Surachet sues, The Nude Panda | September 23 | The Thaiger

Daily TV News from The Thaiger

Former immigration chief, “Big Joke” suing Thai PM over transfer

The former head of Thai Immigration, and poster boy for Thai officialdom, Surachet Hakparn, is taking legal action against Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, after the PM had him unceremoniously transferred to an inactive post last year.

Surachet, commonly known by the nickname “Big Joke”, (a nickname given to him by Thai media) accuses the PM of transferring him without just cause and has been petitioning for a review of the decision ever since.

At the time there was no reason given for the high-profile head of Thailand’s Immigration to be ‘side-lined’ to desk duties at the PM’s office.

Surachet’s lawyer says that in the 1 year and 5 months since his client’s transfer, there has been “no investigation launched against him” and that he should immediately re-instated.

At the height of his fame, in 2017 and 2018, Surachet’s face was everywhere in daily media reports, often seen with hordes of foreigners his team had ’rounded up’ in immigration crackdowns around the country.

But at some point, he appears to have stepped on the wrong toes, calling into question procurement practices at the Immigration Bureau, amid plans to spend billions on smart cars and the airports biometrics system. Surachet was dumped and sidelined… the purchases went ahead.

4 Thai banks to be investigated for “suspicious transfers” after FinCEN files report

4 Thai banks are being investigated after an international money laundering report said the Thai banks had “suspicious financial transactions.” The report found 92 “suspicious” transactions in and out of Thailand totalling to $9,558,752 USD received in Thailand and $31,750,000 USD sent out.

Files were allegedly leaked from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.The FinCEN Files report“reveals the role of global banks in industrial scale money laundering,” citing a total of $2 trillion USD in suspicious global transactions from 1997 to 2017.

The Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office plans to investigate Kasikorn Bank, Bangkok Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Export Import Bank of Thailand. But he says the information from the international report needs to be verified first.

Thai sex workers push for prostitution decriminalisation

Prostitution could become further decriminalised in Thailand. A petition is being passed around calling on the government to stop arresting and fining sex workers.

The Empower Foundation, which supports sex worker, is trying to collect 10,000 signatures before they send it to parliament. Also known as the Centre for Sex Workers’ Protection, Empower is a non-profit organisation in Thailand that supports sex workers by offering free classes in language, health, law and pre-college education, as well as individual counselling.

“Prostitution is not illegal in Thailand, although many activities associated with it are… like brothels, soliciting, pimping and causing a public nuisance etc. Still the underground industry is estimated to be worth US$6.4 billion a year.

Activists say prostitution laws do little to protect sex workers. Fines and arrests for soliciting sex, have pushed some sex workers into poverty, most of them being women. Thailand is estimated to have up to 200,000 sex workers, many of them now unemployed with no recourse to unemployment benefits or official help during the pandemic.

Thai cabinet adds 2 more 4-day long weekends

A holiday-led economic recovery. That appears to be a part of the government’s agenda following yesterday’s meeting of the Thai cabinet. 2 new holiday weekends have been created, one in November, one in December.

In both cases the extended weekends will be 4 days each, adding the Thursdays and Fridays before the weekend. Given the exodus of foreigner this week, there will be fewer of the ‘stranded’ expats and foreign visitors to add to the economic tally of the additional holidays.

So, put it in your diaries…

• November 19-22

• December 10-13

Nude Panda: naked food delivery man hit with 500 baht fine

A man working as a food delivery driver in the southern province of Songkhla, has been filmed riding his motorbike totally naked. The 24 year old later handed himself in to police, explaining that he’d taken his clothes off due to “a personal problem”.

The nature of the problem is not known, and police let the man go with a 500 baht fine.

A video was posted on social media, showing the naked young man hurtling along on his motorbike, which had a food delivery bag on the back. The video has now been deleted. According to a motorbike taxi driver witness, the man parked his bike in front of a local temple, removed his clothes, then got back on the bike and drove off.

Social media response was mixed with most just inquisitive about his motives to ride “commando” with little protection, actually no protection at all.

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