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


– 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.

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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

Thailand News

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