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Will he or won’t he? Thai PM will announce his intentions soon.

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Will he or won’t he? Thai PM will announce his intentions soon. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

The election looms but, at this stage, there is no confirmed date and the elephant in the room – will General Prayut turn politician and run for a seat in the new Government – is yet to be addressed. Pressed yesterday he repeated his past ambiguous remarks.

The PM yesterday reiterated his promise to clarify his political future next month, saying that he first has to decide if he will stay in politics before he announces which party he will choose to join.

The junta leader said he would decide which political party he would join only after deciding whether to remain in politics.

“I told you I still don’t know if I should stay [in politics] or not. I have to see why I should stay,” Prayut said. “More importantly, if people do not vote for the party I join, how can I come [back to politics]?”

When pressed for an answer about his political future, the head of the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said: “You don’t have to ask me today. I will say it myself in September.”

He also said that political restrictions would be eased by that time.

When a reporter joked that she would ask him about his decision on the first day of September, he replied: “Whatever day in September. Let’s focus on tackling the country’s problems now.”

During his trip to the UK in June Prayut said that he would disclose his decision about his political future in September.

Amid political issues, the NCPO plans to “do political unlocking” by authorising the Election Commission (EC) to start preparing for the next election and keep up with a poll timeline that has been repeatedly delayed.

Prayut said that while the NCPO meeting yesterday did not touch on the election, more clarity should be seen once the MPs election bill and the Senate selection bill are published in the Royal Gazette.

“You will see more political clarity in September. There’s no need to ask me about it now,” he said.

Prayut said the legal process “should head to election” once the MP election bill draft, one of four organic laws that must be passed before holding an election, is published. The election bill, even if published, still needs to wait for another 90 days to come into effect as stipulated by the junta-appointed legislators.

Meanwhile, the junta leader was upset yesterday over a joke video clip that dubbed over his first single “Return Happiness to Thailand” as a song full of lies.

In the video clip, posted in June by a Facebook user, a boy asks his father: “Which song tells lies in every verse?”

After his father made a few unlucky guesses, the boy started singing the famous “Return Happiness to Thailand” written by Prayut more than four years ago after the 2014 coup. The lyric says: “We will keep our promise. Just give us a little bit more time.”

Government spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday that Prayut had expressed concern that some individuals with ill intentions had made such a video to attack the government by accusing it of failing to keep its promises.

“General Prayut assures he is not delaying the election. Everything follows the road map. We all know that soon the organic laws will be promulgated,” Sansern said.

The spokesman went on to say that the PM flagged the video clip for dragging a little kid into politics and making him a political tool.

“General Prayut said that this is not nice at all,” he said. “They are just kids. They deserve to be raised right and taught things good for them.

Here’s the original ‘Returning Happiness To Thailand’ clip, written by the PM

STORY: The Nation

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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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