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Thailand News: Yingluck corruption indictment; Blasts hit Bangkok; PDRC vows to announce new government today

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand News: Yingluck corruption indictment; Blasts hit Bangkok; PDRC vows to announce new government today | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Deadlock remains despite Yingluck dismissal, indictment
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The political deadlock remains steadfast despite former caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra being dealt a double blow this week, with the Constitutional Court sacking her on Wednesday and the National Anti-Corruption Commission indicting her yesterday – both unanimously.

The legal blows against the government head over the past two days, however, have not created the political vacuum that the anti-government side hoped for. They had eagerly anticipated the entire Cabinet to be thrown out along with its leader by the Constitutional Court.

However, the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which has been running street protests for six months, appears to believe the removal of Yingluck gives them the long-awaited opportunity to set up a reform administration. “Tomorrow [today] we will take steps towards appointing a new government,” PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said.

“After the Constitutional Court’s decision, we decided to move up our schedule. The government has lost legitimacy and any claim it has to govern the country,” he was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

It was not clear what legal basis the PDRC’s vow was based on, but Akanat said the Constitution has an article that may allow the appointment of a new executive body by the Senate.

Anti-government protest leaders have vowed a “final fight” today, without giving details of their plans.

Their pledge came a day after the charter court removed Yingluck from office for abusing her power in transferring National Security Council secretary-general Thawil Pliensri to an inactive post in 2011. The court found that Yingluck and nine other Cabinet members had helped a relative of Yingluck by removing the NSC chief.

The Senate convenes today to elect its speaker. The protesters want a new speaker in place so he can act as Parliament president in nominating a new prime minister.

The NACC voted 7-0 to indict Yingluck for dereliction of duty and negligence in

connection with the government’s loss-making and graft-plagued rice-pledging scheme, chairman Panthep Klanarongran said.

The judgment was made as scheduled, after the NACC amassed enough evidence to clearly indict Yingluck for allegedly exercising her power in breach of Article 178 of the Constitution concerning the rice price-support scheme, and allegedly intending to employ her power against the government administration regulations under Article 11(1), the NACC said.

“The commission considers there is enough evidence to indict [Yingluck] and refers [the case] to the Senate,” Panthep told a press conference.

The Senate will consider Yingluck’s impeachment. If found guilty, she will be banned from politics for five years.

The anti-graft agency will next investigate to decide whether to pursue criminal action against Yingluck for alleged dereliction of duty under Section 157 of the Criminal Code and negligence under the Commission Act.

NACC member Vicha Mahakun said the commission’s decision was not influenced by the Constitutional Court’s ruling. The guilty judgement was based on witness testimony and documentary evidence, which clearly showed that Yingluck’s alleged negligence while performing her duties had caused the country to suffer huge losses of more than Bt300 billion during the past two years.

The damage was calculated from the market value of rice and the quantity of rice in government stocks after the audit committee finalised the loss figure for the three rounds of the pledging scheme, he said.

Although Yingluck had a chance to correct the mistakes and the rice policy after there were many warnings from other agencies, she refused to halt the project and instead let the losses grow as well as let corruption continue to run rampant, he said.

Meanwhile, the attempt to hold the next election is in a limbo, as the Election Commission told the government that it would be available to discuss the issuing of a Royal Decree next Wednesday.

Charupong Ruangsuwan, leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, was pessimistic about the new poll. “I believe there will definitely be no election. They are you-know-who,” he said. “I can’t tell you exactly what will happen if there’s no election.”

The red-shirt supporters of Pheu Thai plan to ask Yingluck to join a mass rally tomorrow on Aksa Road, said Jatuporn Promphan, chairman of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship.

Yingluck’s removal is expected to contract the economy this year due to the resulting violence that is likely to break out.

Moody’s Investors Service said the court’s ruling was negative for the country’s sovereign credit rating. The possibility of the absence of a permanent government until the end of the year will slow down new investment in the Kingdom, according to Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand.

However, the Bank of Thailand believes the economy will not contract and there will not be an economic crisis due to its strong fundamentals.

Four attacks hit Bangkok after Yingluck sacking
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Four bomb attacks took place without causing casualties late Wednesday night and early yesterday in Bangkok, in what police described as possibly politically motivated and a potential precursor to increased violence.

The four attacks occurred at the Chulabhorn Research Institute, Siam Commercial Bank headquarters, the home of a Constitutional Court judge, and the Defence Ministry.

They occurred in succession, starting at around 9pm, after a Constitutional Court ruling had earlier ended the term of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Deputy Bangkok police chief Maj Gen Chayut Thanathaweerat said the attacks on medical and financial institutes signified a potential upswing in political violence. More policemen will be deployed in areas at risk and political rally sites, he added.

He said police had a database of potential suspects, but were not sure whether those behind each individual attack was conducted by the same group of people. Police needed time to gather evidence and intelligence before making a conclusion on who had masterminded the attacks, he added.

In the first attack, two M-79 rounds were fired into the Chulabhorn Research Institute compound, located on Vibhavadi Highway, and also hitting the ninth floor of Chulabhorn Hospital. Along with the building, a parked taxi was also damaged.

Within 30 minutes, a lone M-79 round hit the eighth floor of the Siam Commercial Bank complex. Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) police said it was possibly fired from Ratchadaphisek Road at the front of the building.

A ping-pong ball explosion at the Defence Ministry compound near Sanam Luang caused minor damage, said Pol Colonel Kamthorn Uei-charoen, an EOD unit commander.

He said the EOD was not notified of the attack by local police, who deemed it to be a light, non-lethal attack.

As for research-institute attack, Kamthorn said the M-79 rounds were possibly fired from a moving vehicle at a distance of 180-200 metres.

It will be determined later wheth

— 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

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget

May Taylor

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Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters | The Business Times

The opposition is accusing the government of being more concerned with military arms than the daily struggles of Thai citizens. During a debate in Parliament on the budget bill, the government was accused of caring more about the growth in military spending than citizens’ financial woes.

The opposition levied the attack after PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered the 3.2 trillion baht bill to the House of Representatives. The debate on the 2020 budget is expected to continue for two more days and if approved by Parliament, the bill will come into force early next year.

The PM says the budget aligns with the “20 year strategy” to improve the living standards of the nation’s citizens while growing the economy, but opponents accuse him of making defence spending a priority.

The leader of the opposition, Sompong Amornvivat, claims that in the five years the PM has been in power, total spending has hit 14.3 trillion baht, with loans of 2.2 trillion baht, without any significant growth in the economy. He accuses the government of spending more than 6 billion baht on defence, with the Interior Ministry getting 25 billion baht more than last year.

It’s also understood that the government has also put 518.8 billion baht aside, which it can spend as it wishes, without the consent of Parliament.

The government’s tourism stimulus plan, whereby domestic tourists would be given cash incentives, also came under fire as Sompong declared it a waste of money that would do nothing to boost productivity.

The subject of the PM’s oath-taking fiasco reared its head again, as the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pol General Sereepisut Temiyavej declared the PM and his government unfit to rule or propose a budget bill as a result of it.

Anudit Nakorntab from the Pheu Thai party said the government should postpone unnecessary spending on military arms while the country’s citizens battle economic hardship, accusing the previous junta-led administration of also prioritising the military in its spending.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals

May Taylor

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Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals | The Thaiger

The chairman of the Thai Sugarcane Farmers Association, Thongkam Cheongklad, says a ban on the weed-killer paraquat would have a severe impact on production costs. Academics and Thai sugarcane farmers have also expressed their concern over the ban, saying it could cost the industry up to 570 billion baht.

The Nation reports that up to 1.2 million people working in the sugarcane industry are understood to be against the ban, saying the proposed paraquat substitute is both expensive and ineffective.

The president of the Thailand Society of Sugarcane Technologists, Kitti Choonhawong, says Thailand has approximately 11 million rai dedicated to sugarcane plantations, generating about 300 billion baht a year.

He claims that a ban on agri-chemicals may lower sugar production, which in turn would affect sugar factories and cause the export market to lose as much as 94.6 billion baht. Thailand is currently the world’s second biggest sugar exporter, behind Brazil.

A research director from the Thailand Development Institute says the ban could ultimately mean the country is not allowed to produce enough food, unless chemical fertilisers are still allowed if chemical pesticides are banned.

Viroj Na Ranong says production costs will still rise however, along with labour costs, adding that the government needs to do its homework.

“The government has to implement measures based on research, not on social trends and politics.”

It’s understood that The National Hazardous Substances Committee will meet on October 27 to decide if a ban on three chemicals currently used in farming will go ahead. The substances involved are paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos and the proposal is for them to be banned from December 1.

SOURCE: The Nation

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