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Thailand News Today – Wednesday, June 24

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Thailand News Today – Wednesday, June 24 | The Thaiger

July Songkran plans pushed back to later in the year

People won’t be throwing or spraying water on each other next month. Celebrations for Thai New Year – Songkran – were rumoured to be moved from April to July, but it now looks like it’s going to be pushed back later this year.

The annual celebrations could even be separated to be on non-consecutive days, according to a source in the Government.

Many businesses and schools are still just opening back up and adjusting to “new normal” regulations. PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha said a long holiday would not be good for government agencies that need to remain at work at this time. He said the holiday might be rescheduled later in the year.

Chon Buri coffee shop in a converted aircraft ordered to close temporarily

A coffee shop set up in a decommissioned Airbus 330 has been ordered to close temporarily after the business simply became too popular after going viral on social media.

It’s understood thousands of customers a day were arriving for a latte or cappuccino from “Coffee War” in Sattahip, in the south of Chon Buri province.

Apparantly the aircraft cost 10 million baht and was converted into a quirky cafe selling coffee for between 60 and 80 baht a cup. But health officials have asked the coffee shop to close for a week, in an attempt to alleviate the daily overcrowding and dissipate the enthusiasm. The aircraft was formerly part of the Thai Airways fleet. There might be some more unused aircraft available soon…

Deputy PM to become leader of ruling Palang Pracharat party

In a widely anticipated move, 74 year old Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, dubbed Thailand’s “Rolex General,” has accepted the invitation to become the new leader of Thailand’s ruling Palang Pracharat party.

The move is seen as a way of strengthening unity within the fractious main coalition party, and to provide unity for the government as it struggles to stay in power beyond this election cycle.

His acceptance of the top job comes just weeks after he told media he was “not ready” to take up the job.

The diminutive general and staunch Prayut ally, has been embroiled in a number of controversies and misunderstandings but has remained a deputy PM throughout the time of the NCPO and then its transition into a new government following last year’s general elections.

Thai historians aghast as faux-marble floor tiles used to renovate 300 year old temple

On hearing that an historic Buddhist temple is undergoing renovation, you wouldn’t expect cheap floor tiles from the local hardware store to be used… But academics and netizens are, not surprisingly, up in arms after a restoration project in Samut Prakan, just south of Bangkok.

The 300 year old temple was refitted with cheap faux-marble floor tiles and a new aluminium roof.

Such is the damage, Buddhist academics claims the temple has been stripped of its architectural and historical importance. The floors and walls have been covered in white and faux marble-patterned tiles, the carved wooden gable pulled apart, and an aluminium roof fitted.

“The aluminium roof and mosaics bought from the market give this the same aesthetic as a food court.”

88th anniversary of Thailand’s constitutional monarchy commemorated

Today marks the 88th anniversary of Thailand’s transition from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Activists from several groups are staging peaceful gatherings across the country to mark the anniversary of the 1932 Siam Revolution.

30-40 demonstrators gathered at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument and played a video reenactment of the speech made by People’s Party leaders after they toppled the government of Rama 8 and established Thailand’s first government under a constitutional monarchy. Activists at today’s protest demanded amendments to the current constitution, written by the junta that preceded the current coalition government.

Krabi paraglider crashes into 6 year old

A motorised paraglider has crashed into a 6 year old child on a Krabi beach. The child was rushed to the hospital and the flyer took care of the medical expenses.

Now, the flyer could face charges from local National Park officials. There were two other flyers in the air at the time.

The pilot somehow managed to kick the child in the head as he was trying to land. The parents rushed to his help and the pilot also helped as they took him to hospital.

Paragliding is illegal on the park’s Klong Muang Beach.

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PM orders investigation after Facebook removes fraudulent accounts with alleged military ties

Maya Taylor

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PM orders investigation after Facebook removes fraudulent accounts with alleged military ties | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The Thai PM says he’s ordered an investigation into allegations that the military has been using fraudulent social media accounts to aggravate the ongoing unrest in southern Thailand. Facebook has announced the removal of 185 accounts and groups that it has accused of “information-influencing”, targeting audiences in the south of the country, where Muslim insurgents continue to fight for independence. The PM says he’s tasked the Defence Ministry with looking into the matter and explaining it to the public.

Meanwhile, Thanathip Sawangsaeng, from Internal Security Operations Command (the political arm of the Thai military) says ISOC knows nothing about Facebook removing any accounts. He says the accounts in question have nothing to do with ISOC, whose Facebook page is still up and running.

According to a Bangkok Post report, Thanathip says ISOC has no policy of information-influencing and is merely responsible for helping people affected by the insurgency in the south. He adds that the ISOC page is only used to share information and provide news updates, while listening to public opinion.

Since Facebook’s announcement, a number of people have petitioned the Administrative Court to issue an injunction against the military over the alleged information-influencing practices. Writer Sarinee Achavanuntakul, TV host Winyu Wongsurawat, and Yingcheep Atchanont from the Internet Law Reform Dialogue, together with lawyer Sanya Iadchongdi, are calling on the court to issue an injunction against army boss, Narongphan Jitkaewtae. The group says the military should be ordered to delete a database of people it has blacklisted and to apologise to the people of Thailand for indulging in information-influencing.

Yingcheep says the Facebook probe reveals that Thailand’s military has used information-influencing to attack government critics, including opposition politicians, activists, and academics, and journalists, including Yingcheep himself.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

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Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4 | The Thaiger

Thai Airways has submitted a rehabilitation plan in accordance with a Central Bankruptcy Court order after the the receiver’s appointment last September. The airline’s acting president says the rehabilitation plans aim to fully restructure and help the national flag carrier to regain profits.

The company has revealed its planned recovery to the media and says the savings and new profit centres will come from multiple aspects of the airline.

The Thai government is looking at offering free C‐19 vaccines to migrant workers who are covered under the nation’s social security program. The Thai Ministry of Labour is set to discuss the move with the Social Security Board. If approved, over 2.3 million migrant workers would be inoculated for free, estimated to cost around 3 billion baht. The Labour Minister says migrant manual labourers are vital to Thai industries and the economy, therefore, they should not be left out of the vaccination program.

Chiang Mai has ranked as the 3rd most polluted city in the world yesterday, according to AirVisual, following Lahor in Pakistan and New Delhi in India. The northern Thai city’s was recorded to have an average PM2.5 dust level higher than 200.
All 4 air quality monitoring stations in the municipal area reported the PM as exceeding the safe level, with the deputy chief of an air pollution command citing some 928 hotspots detected across the nation’s 17 northern provinces.

The Thai musician and anti-government activist, known as “Ammy”, has had his bail request declined. The singer was arrested at Ratchathani Hospital, in the central province of Ayutthaya on charges of lèse majesté, arson, and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. He is accused of being 1 of 3 people to set fire to a portrait of HM the King outside Bangkok’s Khlong Prem Central Prison on the night of February 28.

Thailand has hosted the first group of international tourists to carry out a “golf quarantine”. 42 golfers (41 from South Korea and 1 from Japan) flew into Thailand on February 19, entering quarantine at the Artitaya Golf Resort in the central province of Nakhon Nayok.

Guests following Thailand’s golf quarantine program are required to remain in their rooms for the first 3 days of their stay, after which they can roam freely around the resort and play golf. During their stay, guests are tested 3 times.

Thailand’s annual waste of water, the traditional Songkran festival, has been given the ‘all clear’ as long as the festivities are in line with C-19 prevention measures. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says people will have to to abide by social distancing rules during the Songkran holiday from April 13 to 15. Looks like you’re going to need a bigger water pump pistol as short range shooters may infringe on the social distancing guidelines.

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Thailand classified as a “not free” country in Freedom House report

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand classified as a “not free” country in Freedom House report | The Thaiger
October protest at the Asok-Sukhumvit intersection in Bangkok / Photo by Caitlin Ashworth

On a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being absolute freedom, Thailand scores at 30, a “not free” country, according to the nonprofit Freedom House. Each year, the organisation reviews the political rights and civil liberties of countries around the world. According to their recent assessment, Thailand has declined in terms of rights and liberties, dropping on the scale from “partly free” to “not free.”

The main reason for the drop on the freedom scale, the organisation says, is “due to the dissolution of a popular opposition party that performed well in the 2019 elections, and the military-dominated government’s crackdown on youth-led protests calling for democratic reforms.”

The Future Forward Party was dissolved in February 2020 after the court found that the founder, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, had made a large donation to the party that exceeded the legal limit. The party’s leaders were then banned from politics for the next decade.

Youth-led protests started in February, but the demonstrations were put on pause due to Covid-19 restrictions banning large public gatherings. Protesters gathered in July as restrictions lifted, but some leaders then faced charges for holding a public gathering, which was still banned under emergency orders.

In October, the prime minister imposed what Freedom House calls a “severe” State of Emergency order in Bangkok that banned gatherings of more than 5 people. Some protesters were arrested for violating the order nearly immediately after it was imposed.

With activists pushing for monarchy reform and an end to the military’s involvement in government, raising subjects considered taboo and unprecedented in Thai society, the Thai government has increased its use of the draconian lèse majesté law. Since November, dozens of activists have faced charges for insulting or defaming the Thai Monarchy.

Freedom House scores countries on topics like the electoral process, questioning if politicians and leaders were elected in free and fair elections, as well as freedom of expression and individual rights.

Thailand’s military seized power in 2014 in a bloodless coup. The 2017 constitution was drafted by a committee appointed by the military’s National Council for Peace and Order. In 2019, the country transitioned to what Freedom House calls a “military-dominated, semi-elected” government.

The 2019 elections were overseen by the Election Commission of Thailand, whose members were appointed by the military. All 250 senators were appointed by the military in 2019 to serve 5 year terms.

In 2020, the combination of democratic deterioration and frustrations over the role of the monarchy provoked the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations in a decade. In response to these youth-led protests, the regime resorted to familiar authoritarian tactics, including arbitrary arrests, intimidation, lèse majesté charges, and harassment of activists. Freedom of the press is constrained, due process is not guaranteed, and there is impunity for crimes committed against activists.

SOURCE: Freedom House

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