Thailand

Phuket Gazette Thailand News; Yingluck dumbs down Thaksin sound bite; Police payout for cell fire; Monks need more proof; Fireworks fatalities spark legal action

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

PM downplays Thaksin audio clip
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha had spoken to her by phone about the audio clip in which it is alleged he and Thaksin Shinawatra discussed a plot to bring the former prime minister back to Thailand.

Yingluck said Yuthasak had not offered many details about the clip and did not mention he would be quitting his job. She added that agencies would check the audio clip, but she was confident relations between the government and the military would not be adversely affected.

She declined to comment on whether the clip was leaked by politicians disappointed at not getting a Cabinet seat in the recent reshuffle and refused to say if the voice heard in the clip was her brother Thaksin’s.

Yuthasak also declined to respond to media reports about the clip.

Pheu Thai Party leaders have ordered their MPs to refrain from commenting on the issue, saying their comments would only create negative consequences, as Yuthasak had already called the PM to discuss the issue.

Interior Minister and Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan said he had not listened to the clip but had read detailed accounts about it. He believed no damage would be caused to the country by the conversation in the clip.

“Even if the conversation was real, which part of it caused damage to the country? From what I have read, I didn’t see anything that would harm the country. If some people interpret it as wrong, that’s a personal issue,” Charupong said.

Pheu Thai party-list MP Cherdchai Tantisirin called on the Information Technology and Communications Ministry to trace who leaked the clip, saying he believed the incident could delay Thaksin’s return to Thailand by a further two or three years.

Worachai Hema, Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan, said the clip was not real but made by a group who wanted to sabotage the government by causing confrontation with the military. The group also made the fake clip to prevent Thaksin from returning home, Worachai said. He said the opposition, government opponents, and independent agencies have teamed up to bring down the government, which must fight against extra-constitutional power.

Dithaporn Sasasamit, Internal Security Operations Command spokesman, and a Defence Ministry aide, declined to comment on this issue or any relating to his superiors. However, he said what had happened would not affect the work of the military, which was a disciplined organisation.

Moreover, it would not hurt national security, as Thais and people in all neighbouring countries knew the military and its work record well, he said.

Relatives of Nonthaburi jail fire victims to get compensation
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The relatives of four detainees who died in a fire at Sai Noi police station in Nonthaburi last Saturday night will be compensated and the officers deemed responsible for their deaths will be punished, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok said yesterday.

Pracha also expressed condolences to the grieving families and said police would not neglect the case. It would be determined later whether the deaths were the result of neglect of duty, carelessness or uncontrollable factors, he added.

An investigation into the incident is underway after a committee was set up yesterday, said National Police chief Adul Saengsingkaew, who said those found responsible would be disciplined and prosecuted.

Asked about complaints by relatives that policemen had not done enough to release the detainees from the lock-up during the fire, Adul said: “We are waiting for the investigation results.”

He said preventive measures would be worked out and would become standard practice, while police officers on duty would be instructed to follow them and fire drills would be conducted. Asked whether the station chief would also be held responsible, Adul said it would be known soon.

A senior investigator, Pol Maj-General Piya Sontrakool, said it would take around 10 days for the probe to be completed. He said a police sergeant on duty was trying to help out the detainees but could not brave the heat and smoke in the room where the four were held. The unnamed sergeant suffered minor burns, Piya added.

National Human Rights Commissioner Parinya Sirisarakarn suggested that police learn from this tragic lesson and increase safety measures to protect detainees.

“There should be safety measures and cell improvements,” Parinya said, adding that the police officers who hold the cell keys should be authorised to release the suspects in the event of a fire or other emergency, without risk of being disciplined.

“But it should be done carefully to prevent suspects from starting fires in a bid to escape,” he warned.

Senior monks want more proof before taking action
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Senior monks have decided not to terminate Luang Pu Nenkham’s status as a Buddhist monk until additional evidence is provided.

Luang Pu Nenkham is accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor and fathering a child. If this can be proved, he will be forced to give up his saffron robes and face legal action because the girl was only 15 at the time of the alleged relationship.

Senior monks in Si Sa Ket yesterday convened a meeting to discuss the evidence gathered by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

The DSI submitted its report to the Si Sa Ket monastic chief on Sunday because Wat Pa Khanti Dhamma, where Luang Pu Nenkham serves as an abbot, is located in that province.

Phra Khru Watcharasittikhun, secretary to the Si Sa Ket monastic chief, said yesterday that the senior monks had looked into the report and have decided to wait for more evidence before making any decisions.

“We will request more information from the DSI,” he said.

Weera Daosee, an academic at the Si Sa Ket Buddhism Office, suggested that it would take DNA results or the monk’s confession to warrant the termination of Luang Pu Nenkham’s monkhood.

According to Weera, the monk has yet to be proven guilty.

Luang Pu Nenkham has been at the centre of much negative publicity after a video clip of him enjoying a ride on a private jet and carrying a luxury bag, caught the media spotlight.

Several people have since come forward to file allegations against him, though he has yet to show up or respond.

DSI senior official Pol Lt-Colonel Pong-in Intarakhao said yesterday that there was enough evidence to prove that Luang Pu Nenkham had been sexually involved with a 15-year-old girl.

“We will forward our investigation to the local police so they can take further action,” he said.

He added that DSI officials would also arrange DNA tests for the girl who said she was sexually involved with Luang Pu Nenkham, and for her son.

“We will also look into his financial status and transactions,” Pong-in said, adding that it is believed the monk was engaged in shady businesses given that he seems to own several luxury vehicles.

Pong-in said the DSI would also summon the pilot who provided some hints about the monk’s suspicious behaviou

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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