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Prosecutors, anti-graft agency still at odds over Yingluck case

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Prosecutors, anti-graft agency still at odds over Yingluck case
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The anti-graft agency and public prosecutors failed for a third time yesterday to reach agreement on whether a criminal case should be filed against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in relation to her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme.

This repeated failure has prompted speculation that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) might decide to take a case against Yingluck itself to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.

An NACC source said that without a clear conclusion from the meeting between senior prosecutors from the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and NACC officials, it was likely that the anti-graft agency would take the case to court if the prosecutors continue to refuse to do so.

The NACC has previously taken criminal cases against political-office holders to court without the Attorney General’s consent, including the one against Yingluck’s older brother, former PM Thaksin.

The anti-graft agency has called on the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to impeach Yingluck for dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to end the corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme, which is estimated to have cost the state at least Bt600 billion.

Both sides met for about three hours yesterday at the NACC headquarters in Nonthaburi to discuss the case.

After yesterday’s meeting, Deputy Attorney General Vudhibhongse Vibulyawongse said no conclusion had been reached, though both sides could agree on certain issues. For instance, he said, the NACC had agreed to question some more defence witnesses as requested by the prosecutors.

Vudhibhongse explained that the prosecutors wanted the NACC to interrogate more than 10 new witnesses, but the NACC had only agreed to question some of them.

“We want all witnesses to be interrogated,” he said.

The Deputy Attorney General said he did not think the NACC could take the case to court right now, as the Attorney General’s Office had still not made a decision on the case. He said the NACC should wait for a decision first.

NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljieak, who also attended yesterday’s meeting, said later the anti-graft agency could not agree to all the prosecutors’ requests due to certain legal limitations.

He explained that the prosecutors did not agree with the NACC’s argument and it appeared that both sides had different views about the same law.

“We must have another meeting. Now it seems like we’re going around in circles and getting nowhere,” Sansern said.

He added that the NACC was confident that it had sufficient evidence and grounds to impeach Yingluck, though a further meeting on the case had yet to be scheduled.

NACC president Panthep Klanarongran said the anti-graft agency would give prosecutors additional documents, but it would not interrogate more witnesses as requested.

“There is sufficient information from the existing witnesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, in response to whether taking criminal action against Yingluck would revive political conflicts, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr said yesterday that the rule of law should be respected and he believed righteousness would prevail in the end.

He said he believed the government would try to please all sides involved and did not think the premier would condone the persecution of anybody.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Songkran

Sawasdee pi mai – The four days of Songkran 2021

Tim Newton

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Sawasdee pi mai – The four days of Songkran 2021 | Thaiger

Despite the annual celebrations, water fights and parties being mostly side-lined this year, Songkran goes on for 2021, albeit in a much-subdued form. Many Thais have decided not to head home, but others have already headed out of the city centres to their homes to be with their families. They are being confronted with new restrictions and delays as they reach home province with many provincial officials now imposing quarantine or negative Covid tests to cross provincial borders.

And today, the Bureau of the Royal Household announced the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald will be closed from April 13 due to the current rise in new Covid infections. Other royal palaces are also closed until further notice including Bang Pa In Summer Palace.

Even airlines are having to stop their food and beverage services, again. A January CAAT ban was only lifted a month ago (but some of the discount airlines will still ferry you to your flight in a cramped bus!).

The best we can do for Songkran 2021 is be happy, smile at our Thai hosts on their special day, buy an outrageously colourful Songkran shirt from a road vendor and say Sawasdee Pi Mai to everyone we meet. Let’s do our best to add a few smiles to Songkran this year.

Here are some of the original traditions for the Thai New Year celebrations…

Tuesday, April 13 – Wan Sangkhan Lohng

On this day residents clean their houses in preparation of the New Year’s festivities. Many provinces have street parades and gatherings at temples or get-togethers at relative’s homes.

Wednesday, April 14 – Wan Nao

In preparation for the Buddhist celebratory merry-making the following day, people spend this day preparing cooked meals and preserved cuisine. Buckets of sand were commonly collected and brought into the temples to construct sand chedis, or sand shrines that are then decorated.

Thursday, April 15 – Wan Payawan

As the first day of the New Year, people would gather in the early morning at the wat to offer the food prepared the previous day along with new robes, fruit and other goods to the temple monks. In the past, this was the day where subdued water play began.

Friday, April 16 – Wan Paak Bpee

On the last day of Songkran, people paid their respects to their forebears and poured scented water over the hands of their elders who would then bless those taking part in the celebratory tradition known as rod ‘naam daam hua’.

Sawasdee pi mai - The four days of Songkran 2021 | News by Thaiger

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Covid surge continues, possible changes to 90 day reporting | April 12, 2021

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Thailand News Today | Covid surge continues, possible changes to 90 day reporting | April 12, 2021 | Thaiger

Thailand’s CCSA has announced 985 new Covid-19 infections today – a rise in new case numbers but not as drastic as in the past week when there has been a steady climb. In the past 4 days there has been an increase of more than 100 new infections.

Out of the 980 local infections announced today, most were in the northern city of Chiang Mai with 246, Bangkok with 137, Chonburi which includes Pattaya with 92, Samut Prakan just south east of Bangkok with 83 and Prachuap Khiri Khan, which includes Hua Hin, with 52. 10 new Covid infections announced in Phuket today. A total of 74 new infections since last Monday when the first case was announced involving the 3 big parties on the previous weekend.

The Department of Disease Control says the policy limits the number of patients who go on to transmit the virus to friends or family, thereby controlling the spread more effectively. They insist there are no plans to allow patients to self-isolate at home, despite reports that many hospitals have run out of beds.

As a Thailand Navy admiral accuses a Netflix documentary of using outdated with inaccurate information about the country’s fishing industry, a number of global environmental experts are also chiming in with similar criticisms. ‘Seaspiracy’ has been slammed for being full of inaccuracies and twisting the science behind the damage to the world’s oceans, minimising the role of climate change and plastic pollution.

Possibility of a review to 90 day reporting and some other immigration and investment changes in Thailand. As of today only 0.5% of the Thai population has been vaccinated. Thailand is in 8th position among the ASEAN nations.

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28,000 daily Covid-19 infections possible without “decisive action”

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28,000 daily Covid-19 infections possible without “decisive action” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Mask up! Covid-19 infections could be surging this month.

Without swift and decisive action, Covid-19 infections could surge to 28,000 people per day within the next month . This according to expert warnings and computer predictive modelling. The Department of Disease Control warns that the current spike is more infectious and deadly than the previous 2 waves and extreme action is needed. 967 new infections were reported by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration yesterday, the highest single-day number Thailand has ever seen.

The DDC’s epidemiology division, working with the International Health Policy Program, calculated models to predict the arc of future infection rates if Covid-19 safety measures were not enforced. The model’s worst-case scenario predicted a maximum of 28,678 daily cases.

This is the worst-case scenario, however, as the minimum number of infections could be around 1,300 people. But a reasonable average without safety measures could be about 9000 daily infections, not a great situation for Thailand, a country that had until now done a great job avoiding a heavy wave of Covid-19 infections.

But for the UK variant (B117) newly arriving in Thailand, much like many new tourists arriving before it, Thailand’s hedonistic nightlife scene may be where it all goes wrong. Of Bangkok’s 1,114 infections, 823 of them were traced to entertainment venues. Across Thailand, a total of 140 bars and clubs in 15 provinces have been identified as virus-transmission locations.

Krystal Club in Thong Lor, now infamous amidst a swirl of news of politicians and powerful elite spreading infection there, tops the list of the 85 Bangkok infected clubs, with 211 infections this month. Chon Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Pathum Thani, and Chiang Mai all had less than 10 Covid-19 infections linked to nightlife venues. In total, Covid-19 cases linked to nightlife outbreaks have spread to 70 provinces all over Thailand.

As a result, we’re facing a party-free Songkran with 41 provinces closing all entertainment venues for 2 weeks and the 36 other provinces are following stringent screening and mask-wearing, poised to lock down the same if the pandemic comes knocking.

Bangkok intends to ready 10,000 field-hospital beds in preparation for any possible surge of the more infectious B117 strain spreading through Thailand now. The DDC does reassure though that the situation is still manageable if everyone works together and takes swift and strong actions.

The third wave of Covid-19 infections might be contained, but it will take a lot of personal discipline from everyone, and a sacrifice of Songkran’s joyous celebrations, unfortunately.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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