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US brands Yingluck impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

US: Impeachment ‘politically driven’, calls to lift martial law
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The United States yesterday branded the former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s impeachment as being “politically driven” and called on the junta to lift martial law as well as push for “inclusive” reform toward democracy.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel made the comment during an address at Chulalongkorn University yesterday after meeting with Yingluck, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn to exchange views on Thailand’s political situation.

“The perception of fairness is important,” he said. “I’ll be blunt here: When an elected leader is

imageDaniel Russel, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

deposed, impeached by the authorities that implemented the coup, and then targeted with criminal charges while basic democratic processes and institutions are interrupted, the international community is left with the impression that these steps could be politically driven”.

The junta-installed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted overwhelmingly to impeach Ms Yingluck and the anti-graft body pressed criminal charges on her for negligence of corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.

Former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who was with Ms Yingluck in the meeting with Mr Russel, said “we told the US official that Ms Yingluck’s political fate will not be different from that of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra”.

Self-exiled Thaksin was toppled by a coup in 2006 and fled from prosecution over corruption charges.

Mr Russel is the highest-ranking US official to visit Thailand after the May 22 military coup that brought down the Yingluck government. The Thailand stopover is part of his Southeast Asia trip, which includes the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Mr Russel also called on the junta to lift martial law, which has been in place since the coup.

“Ending martial law throughout the country and removing restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly are important steps as part of a genuinely inclusive reform process that reflects the broad diversity of views within the country,” he said.

“We are particularly concerned that the political process does not represent all elements of Thai society,” he said. “We are not dictating the political path that Thailand should follow to get back to democracy, or taking sides in Thai politics. But an inclusive process promotes political reconciliation, which in turn, is key to long-term stability.

“The alternative – a narrow process – risks leaving many Thai people feeling excluded from the political system.”

The same message was also conveyed to the government during his meeting yesterday with Thai Foreign Minister Tanasak.

“The two held constructive discussions and reaffirmed continuity in relations in all dimensions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee told reporters.

Mr Tanasak briefed Russel on the latest political developments here and stressed the government’s full commitment to proceed with the road map for reform.

The minister also updated Mr Russel on the progress of measures to suppress human trafficking after the US downgraded Thailand to Tier 3 last year.

The government will submit its report on the human trafficking situation to Washington by the end of this month, Mr Sek said.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha explained that Mr Russel did not pay him a courtesy call because he did not approve of how he came to power.

“But we have to separate trade and martial law, as well as economic matters and disagreement [over political issues],” the PM said. “Some countries might disagree with this government, but we still trade with them.”

Meanwhile, in a meeting with Mr Russel, former prime minister Abhisit talked about a referendum on the new charter. From the Democrat Party’s point of view, the junta-sponsored charter would be widely accepted by the people if it goes through the referendum, said deputy party leader Kiat Sittheeamorn, who was also at the meeting.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Koh Samui

Raja salvage operation resumes, garbage truck, pick-up raised from seabed

Maya Taylor

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Raja salvage operation resumes, garbage truck, pick-up raised from seabed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

An operation to raise the sunken Raja 4 ferry and its cargo of vehicles from the seabed off Koh Samui has resumed, after being delayed due to bad weather. The ferry sank on the night of August 1 as it was transporting several garbage trucks from Samui to the mainland. The ferry had set sail in bad weather and capsized when its cargo of trucks shifted during the crossing. 5 of the 16 people on board died in the accident.

Having first been suspended briefly due to bad weather a couple of weeks ago, and more recently due to storm Noul, the salvage operation is once more underway, with workers removing an 18-wheel truck and a pick-up from the seabed.

Nation Thailand reports that operators MS Service have been using 2 cranes, installed on 2 boats, to carry out the salvage operation. Prior to being lifted, the garbage truck was covered in netting, to prevent any further refuse from entering the water. Small boats were also used to pick up any rubbish that managed to escape the netting.

The Ministry of National Resources and the Environment has previously threatened to sue the ferry company over the environmental fallout from the ferry’s capsize. The ferry itself is yet to be lifted from the seabed.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright

Caitlin Ashworth

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But it was my idea! Thai producer loses battle for Ultraman superhero copyright | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

A Thai producer says he came up with the superhero “Ultraman,” but he recently lost a battle with a Japanese special effects studio over the copyright. The Thailand Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the owner of the Thai Chaiyo Productions Company Limited who tried to claim copyright for the superhero films which date back to the 1960s.

Owner of the Thai production company, Sompo Saengduanchai, says the superhero comes from his imagination. He says he created Ultraman while on a fellowship in Japan studying film production. He claims he was involving the projects “Jumbo A”, “Ultraman 1 – Ultra Q,” “Ultraman 2,” “Ultraman Seven,” “Return of Ultraman,” “Ultraman Ace,” “Ultraman Taro,” “Jamborg Ace” and “Hanuman Meets Seven Superheroes.”

Chaiyo Productions Company Limited has been in a copyright war with the Japanese special effects studio Tsubaraya Productions Company Limited. The Appeals Court ruled in Tsubaraya’s favor, then Chaiyo appealed that decision. That appeal was just rejected by the Supreme Court Division for Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade.

The Japanese special effects studio is best known for the “Ultra” TV series. It was founded in 1963 by special effects producer Eiji Tsubaraya and the “Ultra” series first aired in 1966. His family ran the company until October 2007, when the family sold the company to advertising agency TYO Inc.

Sompo says he’s worried that the Supreme Court decision will have a negative affect on his movies. He says some are registered as national heritage cultural properties.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Politics

Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful

Maya Taylor

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Deputy PM says “Big Joke” transfer not necessarily unlawful | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam says former immigration chief, Surachate Hakparn, shouldn’t assume his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office was unlawful. Surachate, known by the nickname “Big Joke” (given to him by Thai media) headed up Thailand’s Immigration Bureau until he was unceremoniously side-lined by the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha last year.

It’s understood he is now planning to sue the PM, claiming that the lack of any investigation against him shows there were no grounds for the transfer. His lawyer, Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, says other officers transferred to the PM’s Office have since been re-instated, after being cleared of any wrongdoing. He insists his client deserves the same, pointing out that in the 1 year and 5 months since his transfer, there has been no investigation against him.

For his part, Deputy PM Wissanu says Surachate has the right to sue the PM if he so wishes but shouldn’t assume his transfer is similar to that of former National Security Council chief, Thawil Pliensri, who was transferred under former PM Ying­luck Shinawatra in 2011. The transfer was subsequently deemed unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Bangkok Post reports that Wissanu doesn’t rule out the possibility of Surachate being re-instated, saying the PM’s Office should submit the issue for the PM’s consideration. For his part, Surachate claims his petitions to the PM have fallen on deaf ears.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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