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Thailand News: EC prepares for July 20 poll; Village chiefs free Defence HQ; Huge turtle haul at Bangkok airport

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Thailand News: EC prepares for July 20 poll; Village chiefs free Defence HQ; Huge turtle haul at Bangkok airport | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

EC to push ahead with plan for poll
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Election Commission is pushing ahead with plans for a national election on July 20 and is set to draft a Royal Decree to begin the process, after a proposal by opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to end the political deadlock received a cool response.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said yesterday that the commission would meet tomorrow to draft the decree for a second poll.

If the draft was completed at the meeting, it would be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration on the same day, he said.

Asked if the EC wanted to comment on Abhisit’s proposal to delay the election to allow for national reforms to occur first, Supachai said the commission had not received the proposal and it was up to the government to decide on the matter.

“If the government has no other ideas, we will continue the process for the election as agreed upon earlier,” Supachai told reporters.

“I don’t know whether the election will go smoothly. Let’s see in the future. I don’t want to anticipate anything now.”

The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which managed to derail the previous election in February, has vowed to block the July 20 poll as well.

The Democrats said they would not take part in the poll if Abhisit’s reform plan was rejected by the government.

The government has dismissed Abhisit’s proposal as unconstitutional.

Abhisit, a former premier, proposed a 10-step road map, beginning with delaying the election and setting up a non-elected government to take care of reforms before the poll.

Noppadon Pattama, a lawyer for former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, posted a message on his Facebook page criticising Abhisit’s proposal, saying it would not bring the country out of the political impasse as it was unconstitutional.

He said the proposal to have the caretaker PM and the caretaker Cabinet step down was contrary to the charter because they had to continue in their duties till the new PM and Cabinet replaced them.

The proposal for the Senate to select a neutral PM was also unconstitutional because the PM must come from a direct election and the Lower House was legally tasked with the duty – not the Upper House.

He said part of the Senate was not directly elected but appointed.

Noppadon said the proposal to adopt the PDRC’s reform plan was not fair since the public would be blocked from taking part in the process.

Abhisit’s proposal was one-sided because it did not include the government’s reform demands. The idea for an interim government to work for five to six months had no legal basis to support it.

“There is not any guarantee that the interim government will not stay longer than that. We cannot let the country be managed under such uncertainty.”

He suggested a constitutional solution to the impasse would be for every party to take part in the poll, every party propose a reform plan before the poll and a public referendum on reform to be held parallel with the poll.

After the election, a law would be passed to establish a reform council. The new government would serve six to 12 months before the House was dissolved and a snap election called.

Abhisit yesterday defended his plan, saying it did not contravene the Constitution or democratic framework.

If the plan was successfully implemented, there would be no violence, no coup and the monarchy and the courts would not be drawn into the political conflict, he said in a statement in which he asked for help for all stakeholders in the dispute.

“[The plan will only work] if Prime Minister Yingluck steps aside from power for only five or six months and the PDRC accepts other ways to reform,” he said.

Village heads take ministry back for govt
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Some 40,000 community leaders from around the country have ousted anti-government protesters who had laid siege to the Interior Ministry for more than five months in an attempt to pressure the caretaker government to step down.

The anti-government protesters, led by the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC), an ally of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), withdrew from the ministry on Saturday night after the arrival of thousands of kamnan and village heads to Bangkok.

They decided to leave the ministry to avoid clashes ahead of Coronation Day today.

Caretaker Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan and other senior Interior Ministry officials led the community leaders to accomplish the mission swiftly and without violence, with only a few anti-government protesters present at the time.

The leaders took to a stage to talk to the crowd for three hours before reading a statement against the PDRC demand that kamnan and village heads be scrapped and for all provinces to have elected governors. The demands are part of the PDRC’s reform plan.

The leaders said the PDRC’s demand was unacceptable and that laying siege to the ministry blocked ministry officials from carrying out their work and caused a public inconvenience for far too long.

Charupong said the government had reached an agreement with anti-government protesters to leave the ministry.

“Thanks to the kamnan and village heads for their unity to make this mission today successful,” he said.

The leaders sang the royal anthem before leaving the ministry compound.

PDRC chief Suthep Thaugsuban took to the Lumpini Park stage to say Interior Ministry protesters had withdrawn to the park, the organisation’s long-time base.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said the decision to leave the ministry came after national police chief General Adul Saengsingakew and Maj-General Apirat Kongsompong, commander of the First Division, King’s Guard, had asked PDRC and SERC leaders to do so to avoid clashes before Coronation Day.

Adul said PDRC leader Somsak Kosaisuk agreed to withdraw protesters unconditionally and a committee would be appointed tomorrow to check for any damage to the ministry.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said it was a good sign that the ousting of protesters was carried out peacefully and he urged protesters at other ministries, including the government complex at Chaeng Wattana Road, to follow suit.

More than 300 community leaders, including defence volunteers from Ang Thong’s seven districts, headed for Bangkok early yesterday morning to join the other leaders.

They said that although anti-government protesters had left the Interior Ministry, they had received an order to stay put. Meanwhile, Suthep has led other PDRC leaders to preside over a ceremony to enshrine a Buddha statue at Lumpini Park so PDRC supporters can worship. The move is designed to boost moral ahead of a mega rally on May 14 – the day Suthep has vowed will be the beginning of the end for the caretaker government.

Customs find 225 live turtles in bags at airport
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Customs rescued 225 live spotted pond turtles worth abo

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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Protests

MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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