PHUKET MEDIA WATCH– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
Two major blasts hit Pattani
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: A car-bomb exploded behind the CS Pattani Hotel late last night and was followed by a blast at a power station which plunged several areas into darkness for several hours.
The blast at the hotel damaged a wall and several windows as well as a car parked nearby. Twitter reports later said that there could have been three people wounded in the bombing, but there were no details as to which site the injuries were sustained at. There were also unconfirmed reports that some people were wounded from flying shards of glass.
For safety reasons, the hotel was evacuated and the mobile phone network was jammed due to fears a second explosion could be triggered. A large number of security officials and rescue workers were also reportedly on standby.
It was reported that a pickup truck packed with explosives was found parked against the back wall of the hotel.
A similar explosion at the CS Pattani Hotel on March 15, 2008, during the time of the Democrat-led government, killed a security guard.
Opposition to file urgent motion on southern violence
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: The opposition Democrat Party will today file an urgent motion requesting a debate on the escalating violence in the three sounthernmost provinces, opposition chief whip Jurin Laksanawisit said yesterday.
In June alone, some 80 violent incidents killed 15 officials and 31 civilians, Jurin said, noting that this month saw increasing numbers of ambushes against soldiers, defense volunteers and policemen.
He said only one suspected insurgent was shot dead, despite several gun battles and high casualties for security forces.
He said he was concerned that the government appeared to frequently shuffle the officials in charge of quelling the strife, indicating a lukewarm response to the insurgency.
He also voiced disappointment that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra did not visit the strife-torn region in order to gain first-hand experience on the situation.
Censure debate could target PM Yingluck
Phuket Gazette / The Nation
PHUKET: A new session of Parliament begins today, with at least three issues looming – constitutional amendment, the reconciliation bill and a no-confidence debate.
The ruling Pheu Thai Party has decided not to rush the charter amendment process, but as long as it refuses to totally withdraw the amendment draft, which would mean changing the whole supreme law, it will continue to have problems as political tension will linger.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the party would not push either the charter-change law or the reconciliation bill.
In the meantime, the government has put the Interior Ministry in charge of promoting charter amendment and getting people to “understand” the need to change the 2007 Constitution.
A new issue is the Democrats’ proposal to censure the government, but they have yet to say when they will file for the no-confidence debate.
The previous session closed while the third reading of the change to Article 291 of the 2007 Constitution was left on the agenda. After 15 days of debate, a House-Senate meeting passed the second reading of the bill and it was put on hold, according to the requirement by law.
But before Parliament resumed to deliberate the third reading, the Constitution Court asked MPs to put the discussion on hold. The court acted on complaints that the amendment process, which sought to set up a new drafting assembly, sought to ditch the country’s constitutional monarchy system.
The court’s decision to drop the case on July 13 did not end the ambiguity surrounding the issue. It said the current charter allows Parliament to change the charter article by article. It also suggested a national referendum could be conducted before rewriting the new charter as a whole.
Opinions are still split, even among Pheu Thai MPs, on what to do with the charter-change process.
Prompong also said the reconciliation bill would be a low priority this House session, and that if it were tabled for discussion, the debate would be heated.
Proposed by the government and coalition parties, the reconciliation bill has been criticised by opposition MPs as an amnesty law designed to benefit ousted former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
The Democrats have made it clear they will not allow the reconciliation bill to pass. And now, the opposition party has raised the prospect of a censure motion. It would be the first time Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been the target of a no-confidence debate since taking office.
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva announced shortly after the closure of the last session that the Democrats would submit a no-confidence motion as soon as the new parliament opens. The previous meeting was a legislative session, in which only laws could be considered. But a censure debate is allowed in the current session.
The Democrats say that their no-confidence debut would scrutinise the effectiveness of policies put in place by the Yingluck administration. Among the programs expected to come under fire is the rice-mortgage scheme, which is said to be riddled with corruption and threatens Thailand’s status as the world’s No 1 exporter of rice.
Yingluck said yesterday she is ready to rebut the opposition’s censure should a no-confidence motion be filed.
“The opposition is obliged to check on the performance of the government, and the government is duty-bound to explain its work via Parliament,” she said.
Yingluck said she was uncertain if the opposition would target her or her ministers in the censure debate. In regard to speculation about a Cabinet reshuffle, she said she had not had any thoughts yet on the new line-up.
Yingluck has rarely attended House meetings to answer motions and usually assigns deputies to answer queries from the opposition.
As part of their character-assassination plan for the censure showdown, the Democrats are expected to attack the Prime Minister over what they say is ‘inaccurate’ information given to the public by her.
— Phuket Gazette Editors