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Politicians raise doubt over February 24 election date

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Politicians raise doubt over February 24 election date | The Thaiger

The Election Commission secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma is refusing to confirm that the next election will be held on February 24, fuelling speculation of a possible delay.

He said February 24 was the earliest date the agency would be ready to hold the general election, citing a conclusion of an Commission meeting held many months ago in Pattaya.

“The election commissioners, however, have not scheduled February 24 as the election date,” he said.

Jarungvith added that according to its order, the ruling NCPO is also empowered to “work with” the EC in scheduling the election date.

The official noted that after the law on the election of members of Parliament takes effect on December 11, the national vote will be held within the next 150 days but not later than May 9 in accordance with the legislation.

Jarungvith’s remark caused politicians to conclude yesterday that the election will not be held on February 24.

Paiboon Nititawan, leader of the pro-junta People Reform Party, said he was convinced the next election would not be held on February 24, as many political parties would not be ready by then. He added, however, that he saw no problem with that.

He noted that the law requires election candidates to be members of a party for at least 90 days to be eligible to run under its banner.

Varawut Silapa-archa, who heads the Chartthaipattana Party’s policy and strategy committee, said he was not surprised by Jarungvith’s remark.

“Many people in the political circles who I talked to agreed that there would be no election on February 24. There are many factors that would cause the postponement,” Varawut said. However, he added that he believed the next election would be held within the legal limit of 150 days after the new law on MP elections takes effect.

“I can wait if the election will be postponed for a month or two. But it must be not later than 150 days. We have been waiting for four years already,” he said.

The young politician blamed the EC’s failure to designate constituencies early for the lack of preparedness of political parties. He said parties need to know which districts and areas are in which constituency so that they can field suitable candidates. Also, parties are required by law to select their candidates based on the results of primary voting among party members, he added.

Meanwhile, provincial officials of the EC have become worried that a delay in designating constituencies might cause the election to be postponed beyond February 24, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Pheu Thai politicians yesterday also called on the EC to complete the designation as soon as possible in order to prevent further delays in the election timing.

Meanwhile, Suthin Klangpha, a politician from the anti-junta Pheu Thai Party, said yesterday that he suspected the junta government was plotting to further delay the next election. He claimed that pro-junta political parties would seek postponement by arguing that they were not prepared for the election on February 24.

Politicians raise doubt over February 24 election date | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Election Commission secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma – The Nation

SOURCE: The Nation



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Thailand

Hemp being proposed as alternative to medical marijuana

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Hemp being proposed as alternative to medical marijuana | The Thaiger

The UN is considering whether to downgrade the classification of cannabidiol – currently a narcotic under international law, says Kasetsart University agronomy lecturer Vichien Keeratinijakal.

Vichien claims the UN was considering reclassification because cannabidiol, found both in hemp and marijuana, had been shown to have medical benefits without the intoxicating properties of other cannabinoids, such as psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Some countries use cannabidiol in food-supplement products, he added.

Vichien has met with International Narcotics Control Board member Viroj Sumyai last month to discuss Thailand’s move to legalise medical marijuana.

With restrictions possibly set to be lifted on cannabidiol, Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) chairman Sopon Mekthon suggested that the government encourage farmers to grow hemp as a source of cannabis-related remedies rather than marijuana.

He says Thai-grown marijuana still had a rather high THC level and yielded a low amount of cannabidiol, meaning people were more likely to take it for psychotropic effects.

Sopon added that the government should legalise the growing of hemp and conduct further studies on which strains to grow and where to cultivate in order to maximise the cannabidiol content.

According to The Nation, Vichien, who has carried out GPO research into cannabis strains for medical purposes, said hemp (Cannnabis sativa L Subsp sativa) is judged different from marijuana (Cannabis sativa L Subsp indica (Lam) based on the amount of THC content.

Thailand requires that hemp must contain less than 1 per cent THC, while the US requirement is for less than 0.3 per cent and Europe’s is for below 0.2 per cent.

Vichien explained that if Thailand wanted to grow hemp to get cannabidiol for global export, it had to ensure the produce contained less than 0.3 per cent THC and ensure there was no heavy-metal contamination.

The government may have to amend its regulation to cap THC content at 0.3 per cent, because anything higher is regarded as narcotic marijuana, the lecturer said.

He added that if Thailand were to grow drought-hardy hemp, which is mostly cultivated for fibre and Omega oil-rich seeds besides cannabidiol, farmers could follow the dual model – focusing on both fibre and cannabidiol – that is applied by China, the world’s largest source of cannabidiol.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thailand

“The Election Commission can decide” – PM on foreign observers for election

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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“The Election Commission can decide” – PM on foreign observers for election | The Thaiger

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is making it clear that the Election Commission (EC) are the sole authority to decide whether or not to allow foreign observers to monitor the election scheduled for February 24, 2019.

But, Gen Prayut insisted that Thailand must solve its own internal problems to ensure transparency and fairness in order to restore international community’s confidence in Thailand.

Asked by a reporter if there will be any problem if international organisations ask to come to observe the election, the PM had nothing to say but politely nodded.

He said the EC will need to decide whether any foreign observers will be welcome.

His comments follow yesterday’s comments from the Foreign Minister Don Paramudvinai when he reiterated that it would not be necessary for foreign observers to monitor the election.  Don said holding elections is “internal affairs of Thailand, which is capable of holding them without needing help from foreign observers”.

The minister, however, claimed he had no objection if any of the foreign embassies here wants to send its staff to observe the election, but it must notify the Election Commission in advance.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit says that allowing foreign observers to monitor the election would lend it more credibility and would help improve the government’s image.

He said that it was a common practice in several countries that foreign observers were allowed or invited to observe their polls. He said the Democrat Party has been invited to observe several elections overseas.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Thailand

Civil groups urge political parties to strengthen national welfare net

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Civil groups urge political parties to strengthen national welfare net | The Thaiger

Just last week a report was released claiming that Thailand is the most ‘un-equal’ country in the world, in the same company as Turkey, Russia and India. The Government swiftly dissed the report, deeming it as ‘unreliable’.

You can read about that report HERE.

Now the We Fair Network of 13 peak organisations has presented its proposals for reform of the country’s welfare system in seven parts to key political parties at a forum yesterday

They claim that national budgeting and the welfare system need serious reform if Thailand is to solve its grave problems of social inequality.

The group says improving the welfare system, making changes to tax collection and improving budget management were essential to solving the problem of wealth disparity and social inequality.

The Credit Suisse report named Thailand the most unequal country in the world, with 1 per cent of the population owning 66.9 per cent of the wealth.

The We Fair Network said progressive policies to create an efficient universal welfare system were necessary for combating the problem of gross social inequality. It also cautioned that the government’s approach to reducing poverty and social inequality by targeting social welfare at the poor only was misguided.

Decharut Sukkumnoed, an economics professor at Kasetsart University, said at the root of social disparity in Thailand was insufficient and poor-quality welfare as well unequal access to state welfare among citizens.

“Many poor people are unable to pursue their goals and improve their livelihoods because they do not get enough assistance from authorities to get good education, which is an important foundation in life,” Decharut said.

“Meanwhile, many middle-class people are also facing financial problems as they have to rely on expensive education and healthcare services from the private sector, because the quality of state welfare is poor.”

“We can boost the country’s revenue by cutting down tax deductions and benefits for direct investments and impose a progressive land tax or inheritance tax on those who can afford it to fund our welfare system.”

Civil groups urge political parties to strengthen national welfare net | News by The Thaiger Civil groups urge political parties to strengthen national welfare net | News by The Thaiger

Read the rest of the report HERE.

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