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Thailand News: No retreat from democracy; Reporter freed; Soldiers play cat-and-mouse with protesters

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Thailand News: No retreat from democracy; Reporter freed; Soldiers play cat-and-mouse with protesters | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

‘No retreat from democracy’
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thailand is not retreating from democracy and seeks understanding from its economic and strategic partners while the country undergoes political reforms, a top Thai official said yesterday.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Thailand’s permanent secretary for foreign affairs, was responding to criticism by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel who noted Thailand’s “retreat from democracy” and announced that the Pentagon was suspending military assistance and engagements with Thailand.

“We urge the Royal Thai Armed Forces to release those who have been detained, end restrictions on free expression, and move immediately to restore power to the people of Thailand through free and fair elections,” Hagel said on Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

“Until that happens, as US law requires, the Department of Defence is suspending and reconsidering US military assistance and engagements with Bangkok,” Hagel said.

In a press conference in Singapore, Sihasak said he hoped the US would look at the relationship in the long-term.

“Thailand is not going to disappear. It is the second-largest economy in Asean,” Sihasak said.

“We are an economic force to reckon with. We will continue our engagement with the international community. We hope our friends will take that fact into consideration.

“We are committed to staying the course of democracy. We want to consolidate. If you look at the events in Thailand, before the actions taken by the National Committee for Peace and Order, we did not have the kind of democracy we should have.

“There was protracted political conflict and violent incidents and our society was headed towards greater divisiveness. The government was not functioning. Had we continued in that direction, that would have been detrimental to Thailand’s stability, to the region’s stability.”

The US, which has close ties with Thailand’s armed forces, cancelled a military exercise.

Sihasak said all those detained had been freed and curbs on the freedom of expression were being lifted.

Warrants sought for nine over attacks on PDRC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Police will issue arrest warrants for nine people wanted in relation to violent incidents during the anti-government protest, Deputy National Police Chief Pol General Aek Angsananont said yesterday.

The incidents include grenade attacks that killed and injured many people, the shooting of a Ramkhamhaeng University student, clashes at Din Daeng and the brutal attack on a People’s Democratic Reform Committee event in Trat.

Aek was speaking after a meeting of top police called by acting National Police Chief Pol General Watcharapong Prasarnrajakit, who wants investigations sped up.

Some 28 people were killed and more than 800 injured over the past six months. The victims were mostly anti-government protesters.

Under the former national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew, the police were not able to capture anyone for these offences. After the declaration of martial law by the National Council for Peace and Order, the military has discovered at least four caches of war weapons that belong to pro-government supporters.

The NCPO transferred Adul and eight key police to inactive posts, They included Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith.

Aek said police had issued arrest warrants for suspects wanted for alleged committing lese majeste. They are Ekapop Luara, who is also known as Tang Archiva, and Pathum Thani red hard-liner Wuthipong “Ko Tee” Kotthammakhun.

Aek said he would check to see if it was true that both suspects had fled the country. If they had, he would request their extradition. Police would also speed up investigation into allegations of lese majeste against Chatwadee “Rose”Amornpat.

Watcharapong said police must resolve every case as soon as possible and explain to the public who was behind the violence.

Military, protesters in cat-and-mouse game
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The military and fast-moving anti-coup protesters played a cat and mouse game yesterday as security measures were stepped up at about seven prime locations in Bangkok and major provinces.

Security forces descended on key business centres in the capital and the provinces, including Chiang Mai in the north and Nakhon Ratchasima in the northeast, after receiving intelligence that anti-junta protesters would demonstrate.

In Bangkok, Victory Monument, Ratchaprasong, King Taksin Monument, Democracy Monument and the Central shopping mall in Bang Na were closed shortly before noon in the wake of demonstrations.

Pro-democracy activist Sombat Boongnarmanong, who is wanted by the junta, used Facebook to call for demonstrations in Bangkok.

At around noon, a small number of people appeared at the Ratchaprasong intersection but dispersed inside the Terminal 21 shopping centre at Asok when security forces appeared.

However, security forces arrested a 60-year-old woman at the Ratchapasong intersection who wore a mask to show her disapproval of the coup.

As police arrested her, she shouted “help me” and said she did nothing wrong.

The ruling junta has prohibited groups of more than five people assembling in public for political purposes, but the woman said she had come alone before she was taken to nearby Lumpini Police Station.

Meanwhile, rapid-deployment forces rushed to Asok intersection a few kilometres away to block protesters. Hundreds of people held anti-coup signs and shouted their objection to military seizing power.

Terminal 21 was closed and trains did not stop at Asok BTS station. The BTS announced earlier that trains would not stop at Ploenchit, Chit Lom and Ratchadamri in a bid to stop protests.

Deputy national police chief Lt-General Somyot Pumpanmuang oversaw the operation at Ratchaprasong. Although demonstrators left quickly, plainclothes officers were left at trouble spots in a bid to prevent protesters from returning. Police will check with fast-food giant McDonalds to find out how many branches it has in the capital, with officers dispatched to restaurants. Activist Sombat usually arranges protests from these fast-food outlets.

In Chiang Mai, numerous small protests popped up. They expressed their views, sprayed anti-military graffiti on roads but disappeared before security officials arrived. The graffiti included “No Coup” and “Democracy was seen in Chiang Mai”.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, the pro-democracy White Korat group gathered briefly at The Mall shopping centre before running away.

No protesters in Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima were arrested.

Security officials stepped up measures in many other provinces, including Samut Prakan, Lamphun and Ratchaburi, but there were no protests.

Junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha monitored the protests closely and instructed troops to handle them accordingly, the Army’s deputy spokesman Veerachon Sukhontapatipak said.

The operation to subdue protests woul

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Thailand

Thais commemorate the passing of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thais commemorate the passing of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej | The Thaiger

Thousands across the Kingdom, many wearing yellow, attended religious ceremonies and activities yesterday to commemorate the passing of the beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His Majesty died on October 13, 2016

In Bangkok, a large crowd offered alms to hundreds of monks and novices as PM Prayut Chan-o-cha led ministers, military leaders and officials in paying homage to the late King and placing wreaths in front of a huge portrait of the late monarch.

Similar activities were held at provincial halls throughout the country, and a candlelit ceremony, led by the Prime Minister, was held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok.

In Hua Hin, some 500 people, mostly dressed in yellow, the colour of the late King, joined a charity walk and run on the Phetkasem highway in the morning. In the north-east province of Yasothon, Thanisorn Chittama placed rice crops in his 1 hectare rice field to form an image of the late King, with wording related to the King’s philosophy of sustainable economy.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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Economy

“Eat, Shop, Spend” drive reaches registration target

Greeley Pulitzer

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“Eat, Shop, Spend” drive reaches registration target | The Thaiger

Ten million people signed up for the first Eat, Shop, Spend stimulus campaign since its launch on September 23. The organisers have expressed thanks to all who have participated.

The first phase of the campaign aimed to boost domestic spending by offering 10 million people a 1,000 baht voucher via the G-Wallet mobile application to spend in specific shops, outside their province, before November 30.

The Minister of Finance says the campaign will be extended into Phase 2 but with the criteria and regulations adjusted to attract more people with purchasing power to spend their own money, without the 1,000 baht per person give-away seen in Phase 1. The second phase will take place in November and December.

SOURCES: The Thaiger | The Nation | National News Bureau of Thailand

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Thailand

Measures outlined to reach 39.8 million tourists’ target by end of 2019

Greeley Pulitzer

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Measures outlined to reach 39.8 million tourists’ target by end of 2019 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: TAT News – Hua Hin Beach

The cabinet of economic ministers has approved 18 measures with the aim of attracting 39.8 million tourists in the coming year.

A government spokesperson says the measures “comprise short, medium and long-term initiatives”. They include financial and legal steps to stimulate tourism markets, such as the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale “Passport Privileges” which will offer a 30-70% discount for tourists. Medium and long-term measures include special credits for lodging operators and the organising of world-class events, exhibitions and activities nationwide.

One measure being introduced under the Thailand Tourism project consists of two campaigns: one called ’’100 Baht for All Destinations Throughout Thailand’’ will be open for registration on November 11-12 and December 11-12. People can register via the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website.

The other campaign, called “Shocking Price on Weekdays,” will be offered to those who travel to a Thai destination from Mondays-Thursdays, beginning in November until the end of the year.

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

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