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Thai officials make official request for Yingluck’s extradition

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai officials make official request for Yingluck’s extradition | The Thaiger

The Thai Government has made an official request to the UK for the extradition of fugitive former PM Yingluck Shinawatra for prosecution back in Thailand.

The Thai Embassy in London sent a letter dated July 5 to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office with attached copies of the Supreme Court verdict in the case against Yingluck along with her arrest warrant.

The letter cites a 1911 treaty between the UK and ‘Siam’, Thailand’s former name, on the extradition of fugitive criminals.

A copy of the Thai Embassy’s letter was published on the BBC Thai news website yesterday.

The Thai mission said it acted on instructions from the Thai government. However, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said yesterday the embassy’s action was part of “normal procedures, and not a policy matter, so they didn’t need to inform me”.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says that the decision on whether Yingluck will be extradited lies with the British government. Thai law enforcers have no authority to make any arrest in a foreign country, he said.

“The government has done everything we can under the legal framework. The foreign country involved will decide whether to send back Yingluck as requested,” Prayut said at Government House.

Don said yesterday he did not recall seeing any document seeking his approval on the matter. He also dismissed suggestions that the action stemmed from Prayut’s meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May during his recent visit. When asked if he was confident the UK authorities would extradite Yingluck, Don just smiled and walked away.

Amnart Chotchai, director of the Office of the Attorney-General’s International Affairs Department, said his office coordinated with the Foreign Ministry for the extradition of Yingluck in accordance with the protocol.

“We made it clear that this is a corruption case, not a political case, and hope the British authorities consider the request,” he said. The current treaty prohibits extradition for political offences. Amnart said his office made similar requests for the extradition of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother, but failed to receive a response.

In its letter to the UK foreign ministry, the Thai Embassy gave assurances that the case against Yingluck was not of a political or a military nature.

“She has not been given a pardon or amnesty. And the arrest warrant for the defendant to serve her sentence is not affected by a statute of limitations,” the letter said.

The embassy also asked that its request be “kept strictly confidential and executed as a matter of urgency”. The Thai mission also maintained that Yingluck’s extradition could be granted under the treaty even if the British government considered that her offence was not included in the list of extraditable offences. The embassy cited a clause in the treaty stating: “Extradition may also be granted at the discretion of the State applied to in respect of any other crime for which, according to the law of both the Contracting Parties for the time being in force, the grant can be made.

Yingluck is believed to be residing in the UK. Photos and video clips of her in different locations around London have been distributed on social media. One video clip shows Yingluck with her older brother ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra celebrating his birthday last week.

Thai officials make official request for Yingluck's extradition | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Thailand

Ministry looks at tourist levy to fund infrastructure

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Ministry looks at tourist levy to fund infrastructure | The Thaiger

A tourist levy is being considered amongst a raft of changes to improve the amenity of local tourist attractions. The Tourism and Sports Ministry is floating the initiative after the National Tourism Policy Act was enacted and published in the Royal Gazette this week, according to the Bangkok Post.

The Ministry is now in talks with universities and insurance companies to research solutions that would provide additional funds but have minimal impact on the flow of tourists into Thailand.

This year the Ministry is predicting that 41 million travellers will visit Thailand.

Tourism remains a key economic driver in the Kingdom and has been on the rise for the past two decades. Last year Thailand welcomed 38 million foreign tourists contributing more than 2 trillion baht to the local economy. Local tourism contributed another 1 trillion baht.

The tourist levies would be used to rehabilitate different tourism sites across the country. The other expenditure would go towards new infrastructure. One such idea is to build a proper port for passenger cruise ships in the South.

Japan and Malaysia have slapped tourist levies or departure taxes on travellers.

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Business

April’s exports fall to the lowest level in 24 months

Kritsada Mueanhawong

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April’s exports fall to the lowest level in 24 months | The Thaiger

“Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak has scheduled a meeting on May 31 with Thailand’s commercial attachés from across the world in a bid to boost exports.”

Thailand’s exports fell 2.6% last month (April) to US$18.5 billion, the lowest level since May 2017.

Thai PBS reports that imports in April also dropped by 0.72% to about US$20 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of about US$1.5 billion, she said, adding that Thailand’s total exports for the first four months of this year amounted to US$80.5 billion, representing a 1.86% contraction compared to imports of U$79.9 billion, a  1.08% drop.

The fall is being blamed on the intensifying trade war between the US and China, according to Ms. Pimchanok Wornkhorporn, Director of the trade policy and strategy office at the Ministry of Commerce.

“Other external factors, such as the slowdown in global trade and demand for Thai products from its key trading partners, compounded by the volatile political situation in Europe and credit problems in China, conspired to drive Thai exports down.”

Hardest hit by the trade war are electronic exports to China, as Thailand is a major source for Chinese manufacturers, she said, adding that several other countries are being affected and their business operators have resorted to foreign exchange hedging to minimise exchange risks.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Opinion

Thai businesses locked out of potential $237.2 million medical cannabis market 

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai businesses locked out of potential $237.2 million medical cannabis market  | The Thaiger

by Daragh Anglim

Thailand is emerging as a frontrunner in the nascent Asian cannabis market. With 175 clinicians now qualified to prescribe cannabis-based medicines in the country, Thailand is at the cusp of a major breakthrough in realising the commercial and societal benefits of medical cannabis.

The Asian Cannabis Report published in May by leading market analysts and advisors Prohibition Partners, forecasts that the Thai cannabis market will be worth US$237.2 million by 2024 should medical access open up. 

In February, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) took the landmark decision to approve the use of cannabis for research and medical purposes. This cemented Thailand’s position at the vanguard of medicinal cannabis in Southeast Asia, as the first country in the region to use cannabis to treat Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, drug-resistant epilepsy and pain and nausea in cancer patients.

The NLA’s decision will theoretically allow medical practitioners to prescribe cannabis-based treatments to people living with a range of chronic and debilitating conditions. 

Currently, there are only two officially sanctioned plantations in Thailand which are permitted to grow a strain of cannabis that is low in psychoactive compounds – less than 1% THC – to supply hospitals or government research institutes. All medical cannabis must be grown indoors to prevent illegal trade and ensure quality. 

While the Thai government is still tightly controlling the production and supply of the market, foreign companies such as GW Pharmaceuticals and Otsuka Pharmaceutical are alert to developments and have begun to file patent requests. The Thai Department of Intellectual Property has denied requests from the British and Japanese companies. Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong recognised that cannabis ‘is Thailand’s future cash crop’ and hard-working domestic businesses will naturally be concerned that if future patents are granted, international parties will get a head-start and dominate the potentially lucrative market. 

In order for Thai businesses to reap the rewards medical cannabis can bring, legislation needs to be clarified. Right now, all eyes will be on regulations due to be published next month. It is believed that these will establish licensing and prescribing criteria for medical practitioners, but it is yet to be seen whether Thai farmers and businesses can expect the same clarity around domestic cultivation.

Whether in Oceania, Europe or North America, the evidence is unquestionable; citizens and governments across the globe are rapidly waking up to the potential of developing medical cannabis markets, and, provided legislation keeps apace, Thailand is well placed to lead the pack in Asia.

Daragh Anglim is Managing Director of Prohibition Partners, leading market analysts and advisors for the emerging cannabis industry. 

• The view expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of The Thaiger or its staff. The article is published to enhance the understanding of the issues related to partial legalisation of medical cannabis in Thailand.

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