Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck calls for Lese Majeste probe; No Bangkok protests for Songkran; Romanians caught on credit card fraud


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

CAPO warns govt officials against talking to PDRC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The visit of anti-government protesters to three government offices has prompted the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) to issue a warning to state officials and civil servants not to support or join the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)’s campaign for reform before an election.

In a press release yesterday, the CAPO invited permanent secretaries of all ministries to join a meeting on April 17 to clarify the role and duty of officials as stated in civil service laws.

The secretary-general of the PDRC, Suthep Thaugsuban, yesterday visited the Defence Ministry. It was Suthep’s third visit to government officials in a week and he received a warm welcome from officials of the three ministries.

On Tuesday, Suthep led his core leaders to seek the support of the Justice Ministry for its national reform campaign in a move apparently calculated to dispel criticism he has usurped the sovereignty of the country. Last Friday, the group visited the Education Ministry.

CAPO’s statement said the law stated civil servants have freedom of assembly but must not affect administration and the continuity of public service, or have a political agenda. Moreover, civil servants must support democracy and stay neutral in politics.

“We consider it is not appropriate for the PDRC to seek support from civil servants [for reform before elections] as it puts pressure on the civil servants in their work,” the statement said.

“We reprimand both Suthep and the permanent secretary of Justice [Kittipong Kittayarak], who welcomed Suthep and his group and joined a meeting as if they recognised the PDRC. The act of Kittipong is not appropriate because he should [have informed] police to arrest Suthep and [his associates], for whom arrest warrants had been issued,” the statement said.

Kittipong on Tuesday welcomed Suthep’s group with open arms and provided rooms for talks on political reform.

Following discussions between Suthep and Defence Ministry permanent secretary General Nipat Thonglek and senior officials at the Defence Ministry yesterday, Suthep said the anti-government protesters would not hold marches during the Songkran festival from April 12-15. This would allow troops and police to take a break and stay with their families during the holidays.

Suthep said Nipat was worried there were not enough troops to keep security during the Songkran holidays. As a result, Suthep said, he agreed to suspend marches during the holidays.

Nipat noted that while officials were ready to listen to Suthep’s proposals, they could act only within legal constraints.

After Suthep left the Defence Ministry he visited anti-government protesters led by the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation near the Interior Ministry on Assadang Road, where a bomb exploded on Tuesday evening.

During his visit, sounds of an explosion were heard but nobody was injured.

Meanwhile, the pro-government People’s Radio Media for Democracy Group (PRDG) yesterday performed a ceremony to expel bad spirits from five National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) members in front of the commission’s office in Nonthaburi.

The five members were Vicha Mahakun, Panthep Klanarongran, Prasart Pongsivapai, Pakdee Pothisiri and Vichai Vivitasevi.

Sornrak Malaithong, spokesperson for the group, said the five members should resign from the NACC because they had not received royal endorsement. The group set up a tent in front of the NACC and vowed it would continue the protest until April 11. It also invited 45 monks to pray for the cleansing of evil from the NACC.

PM calls for action on clips that insult the monarchy
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday asked police to take legal action against those involved in the distribution of electronic clips deemed insulting the monarchy.

The premier’s secretary general Suranand Vejjajiva said the premier had instructed him to send a complaint to the national police chief, seeking legal action against those who distributed the clips. Suranand said the premier mentioned the case of Wutthipong Kochathammakun, also known as Ko Tee, whose interview with a member of the foreign press has been slammed for insulting the monarchy.

Suthep will not hold marches during Songkran holidays
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, said Wednesday that the PDRC will not stage marches from April 12 to 15.

He made the announcement following talks with Defence Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Gen Niphat Thonglek at the Defence Ministry. Suthep said Nipat was worried that there would not be an adequate number of troops to ensure security during the Songkran holidays.

As a result, Suthep said, he agreed not to lead any marches during the Songkran holidays so that troops and police could take a break and stay with their families during the holidays. Suthep and core leaders of the PDRC met Niphat and senior officials at the ministry Wednesday afternoon.

Niphat noted that while officials are ready to listen to Suthep’s proposals, they can act only within the legal constraints.

Romanians arrested over credit-card skimming
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Two Romanian men, suspected of being members of a credit-card skimming ring, were arrested in Bangkok on Tuesday along with some 800 credit cards.

Metropolitan Police Area 5 chief Pol Maj-General Seubsak Phansura told a press conference that the suspects – identified as Alexandrew Felsic, 26, and Elise George Sergi, 33 – had been arrested in Klong Toei district after reportedly withdrawing cash from ATMs in the Lumpini area.

Seubsak said the pair had confessed to police that they were hired at 500 euros (Bt22,230) per time to withdraw cash for a hacker gang that had stolen credit-card information from banks based in Italy.

He said they claimed they were doing it for the first time, and that they had not as yet withdrawn any cash.

The suspects maintained their innocence in the face of a police investigation’s finding that they and another accomplice had stayed at a hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 11 a month ago, during which time they had withdrawn almost Bt1 million from ATMs, he added.

Seubsak said 364 of the 795 credit cards seized from the duo contained customers’ information, while the rest were blank. Damages of up to Bt100 million could, therefore, have been involved if they had succeeded in withdrawing the maximum amount via the cards.

Yala business stands firm despite repeated attacks
The Nation / Phuket Gazette


— Phuket Gazette Editors

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