Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Swede bombmaker jailed; Rubber hoarders warned; House set for Bt2tn row; Same-sex marriage advances

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

Bomb-making material earns Swedish man jail term
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court yesterday sentenced a Swedish man of Lebanese descent to two years and eight months in jail for possessing without permission almost three tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which could be used for bomb-making.

The court heard that, following an Israeli warning that members of a Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, planned to enter Thailand and plant bombs at various locations, Thai officials arrested 49-year-old Atris Hussein on January 10, 2012.

They seized the ammonium nitrate at his rented house. Hussein denied the charges and claimed the material belonged to a foreign friend and was to be exported later.

The court found Hussein guilty and initially gave him a four-year imprisonment term, but reduced the sentence due to his useful testimony. Hussein, hugging his wife and daughter, said he was content with the ruling. Hussein’s lawyer Wittaya Buranasila said they would appeal for his acquittal.

Govt issues warning to rubber hoarders
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Aiming at organisers and supporters of rubber farmers’ protests in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan yesterday vowed to launch a crackdown on hidden stores of rubber products.

He did not identify any group, but hinted that “hoarders of rubber supply”, who he said would benefit handsomely from government permission to intervene in raw rubber sheet prices, may be behind the protests.

“The government now knows who is supporting the protests, and demands that you stop, or government inspections will be conducted to check out your rubber stockpiles,” he said, without elaborating.

Citing an effort by Deputy Interior Minister Visarn Techateerawat to talk with the Democrats about the situation, Charupong said Visarn personally knew many Democrat Party MPs based in the South.

Charupong said certain Democrat MPs in Nakhon Si Thammarat, where the protests and clashes took place, had called him and promised to mediate with the protesters to seek an end to the rallies.

Visarn had earlier said that three senior Democrat MPs had met with protest leaders and helped calm them down, and that some protesters said yesterday they would be willing to negotiate with the government through the chief of Cha-uat district, and began dismantling a number of tents erected at the rally site.

He said owners of rubber plantations, as well as tappers, needed to agree among themselves about sharing of benefits resulting from a government promise of a per-rai subsidy of Bt2,520 to owners of no more than 25 rai.

A leader of rubber farmers in Surat Thani, Kittisak Wiroj, called on the media to report the incident impartially, and complained about television news coverage reporting only on action and statements by authorities and the police.

Meanwhile, the Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association issued a statement yesterday urging both protesting rubber farmers and police in Nakhon Si Thammarat to refrain from using violence and harassing journalists. The groups vowed journalists would remain impartial in carrying out their duties.

The statement came after a major clash between protesters and police on Monday in the province’s Cha-uat district left many people injured.

While stressing the need to ensure the safety of journalists covering such conflicts, the associations also urged the media not to report in a way that could fan hatred and to be well-rounded in their coverage. Both police and protesters, the statement said, must understand the important role of the media in presenting multifaceted accounts of what is happening on the ground, and should refrain from harassing or threatening reporters.

In the event of any unfair reporting, the groups called on the affected parties to take legal action and not to resort to violence.

Thai PBS also issued a statement saying its staff covered the news impartially and professionally. The statement followed an attack on a vehicle and some journalists from the TV station.

House set for big rows over Bt2-tn bill
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The importance of the House deliberations in the second reading of the Bt2-trillion borrowing bill for development of transport infrastructure is reflected in the postponement of the mobile Cabinet meeting scheduled in Lop Buri.

The Cabinet meeting was deferred so that the government could devote all its resources to defending the bill.

While the government whip has set the debate for only today and tomorrow, the opposition says that timeframe would be impossible.

The atmosphere of the debate might be similar to that of the joint meeting considering constitutional amendment that took 12 days to finish deliberation of the Article 13 bill.

The Bt2-trillion borrowing bill has 19 Articles, while 143 MPs have submitted motions to alter the law draft.

The proposed changes range from very small issues or sarcastic messages to serious issues like the measures to prevent corruption.

MP Boonyod Sooktinthai proposed that the name of the bill be changed to “The Bill to Authorise the Finance Ministry to Borrow Bt2 trillion for the Development of National Transportation Infrastructure in All Aspects up to 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.”

MP Chuti Krairiksh proposed an addition to the bill’s name: “…topping up the [national] Debt Burden for 50 Years.”

MP Jua Rachasi, who is a committee member, proposed “…according to necessity and justice” be added to the bill’s title.

MP Watchara Petthong added: “…without Thinking of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.”

MP Sathit Pitutecha wants to add “…for Excessive Use Without Monetary or Financial Discipline”, to the bill’s name.

Many Democrat MPs proposed an addition to the definition in Article 3 of the Bill that, “… the borrowing must be used according to the national strategies on transport-infrastructure, it must be according to the national anti-corruption laws.”

Boonyod said the bill should state that the authorities, according to this law, “must maintain monetary and financial discipline”.

He also added a clause in the bill saying the borrowed money must be used “for sustainable development of the country in every aspect, while the implementation is transparent and according to good governance”.

Patchara proposed that a national referendum be held.

Many Democrat MPs, including chief adviser Chuan Leekpai, proposed the definition of “projects” identified in the bill as the projects according to the strategies listed in the law’s appendix.

The MPs also proposed the roles of private organisations recruited to take part in the fight against corruption. They also proposed agreements by related organisations to work transparently and to declare information. They also require declarations of contract details, including procurement plans, scope of work, name lists and the cost bid by each contender, the winning contractors as well as the contract details.

If the agencies involved or contractors refuse to give such information, the private organisations wo

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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