by Bill Barnett, C9Hotelworks.com
As Phuket moves slowly into low season, a story published in the international media by the US-based Fox News about how tourists could face the death penalty over taking photos at the island’s airport is a highly flaw piece of sensationalist fake news.
Clearly there is no likelihood that the Thai authorities will apply a legal maximum penalty under the Air Navigation Act for tourists posing for selfies as airplanes land. More likely would be a charge of trespassing and a fine.
Clicking into Google this morning the story is now running with the New York Post, MSN and other news outlets abroad.
What is distressing is to see how news providers sensationalize Thailand and Phuket with little regard as to the consequences of the economic impact of such a story.
For most readers, what they will remember when reading such a piece is only the headline about Phuket, Mai Khao Beach and the death penalty.
What a sorry state of affairs mainstream news has become.
To read the Fox News article clock HERE.
“Racial profiling and xenophobic” – a rant against Dual Pricing
The rules are applied in a lumpy fashion at various tourist hot spots around the country as well as some national parks. Sometimes it’s applied, sometimes, not, sometimes there are signs, sometime they make it up as they go, sometimes they will allow local expats in for the Thai price.
There are dual-pricing apologists who say ‘Hey, it’s cheap anyway, so pay up and shut up’. Whilst dual-pricing whiners say it’s unfair, racist and shows a lack of grace towards tourists and foreigners.
Here’s the story from ‘Despondant Foreigner’. You can have your say on the post at our Facebook page…
“I would like to share my story with you that happened to me this morning. I visited Promlok waterfall in Nakhon Si Thammaratt with my Thai wife, child and wife’s family. Upon arrival two soldiers approached our car and my wife began talking to them. They explained to her that as today is Songkran all Thai’s get to go to the waterfalls free of charge but I had to pay. Then a woman dressed in yellow approached the car who confirmed what the soldiers said and told my wife that this is a new law. Well we were all disgusted and proceeded to drive back down to the bottom of the waterfall where we could all swim for free.
I am absolutely disgusted by this. Yet another example of Thailand’s racial profiling and xenophobia towards foreigners. The fact that I am married and have children here doesn’t make a difference. Because I have white skin I must pay the fee whilst all Thais go in free.”
Is Thanathorn the new Thaksin? Will the ‘establishment’ tolerate his new political vision?
Is Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit a popular fad or does he, and his party, have the staying power to make him a sustainable threat to the entrenched Thai political elite?
Many analysts are comparing Thanathorn to Thaksin in his early days. They say there are clear similarities. First off, Thanathorn is facing the kind of legal trouble that Thaksin faced when Thailand’s political crisis started to brew.
After becoming Thailand’s PM, Thaksin faced a share transfer scandal in which he moved his company shares to poor servants, allegedly to avoid stock market restrictions imposed on people owning big lots of stocks. Now, 40 year old Thanathorn is facing a legal controversy over his previous ownership of media shares, which could still doom his election candidacy.
The allegations are yet to be considered by the Election Commission.
Thaksin, in spite of repeated denials, was always alleged to have controversial political ambitions. Thanathorn, meanwhile, is seen in an increasingly similar situation. The list of complaints is growing, many to do with his perceived unorthodox ideology that contrasts with the conservative political ‘Thainess’ that includes non-negotiable support for the Army and Monarchy.
Thanathorn has been criticised for something he said about the Khana Ratsadon Party, which played an instrumental role in changing Thailand’s system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932. The secretary-general of Thanathorn’s party has also been forced to deny making highly-controversial comments about Thailand’s political culture.
Future Forward did very well on March 24, surpassing pundits’ predictions for the new party. Analysts say the success is due to three main factors — Thanathorn’s youthful image that attracted the majority of first-time voters, the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party that shifted a lot of votes to Future Forward, and the new party’s fresh ideology and perspectives.
He, and the party, attracted a lot of newer voters along with a core of disaffected voters who are looking for change.
But Thanathorn’s looming legal trouble is described as a potential banana skin. It concerns a large number of shares he had in a media company, which were transferred to his mother so that he could qualify as an election candidate.
One apparently-private document, which he is relying on, showed he transferred the V-Luck Media Company shares on January 8, before he applied for election candidacy. Another document, which his accusers are relying on, apparently showed the transfer was brought to the authorities’ attention after he became an election candidate.
Controversy continues to build around the young billionaire and chances are it will grow.
SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger
Election: The problems ahead, Tuesday
PHOTO: The political dance of horse-trading begins. Prayut Chan-o-cha in campaign mode
And so we awake on the second day since the election. With 95% of votes counted we’re in firm territory now as far as voting trends are concerned . So we can start guessing which way the new parliament might be formed. Here are the main issues for Tuesday.
The missing NZ ballots
The Election Commission will meet today to decide what to do with the ‘invalid’ ballots delivered late to polling booths. In one example, the Thai Embassy in New Zealand and Thai Airways have both defended their situation saying they did everything correctly by getting the votes sorted and delivered in time. Whether the votes are included or not will come down to decision from the Election Commission. The bottomline, the votes won’t change the big picture although we are sure the expats voting in New Zealand would like their votes to be counted.
The Election Commission
The body tasked with running the election, counting and collating the votes have come under attack from all sides. From minor lapses in security, a few poorly handled situations in booths to some more major accusations that are currently being investigated by police. The overseas observers have not been particularly impressed by the EC’s performance either citing a number of small issues at booths around the country.
But the EC’s biggest battles are yet to come as they will be forced to adjudicate on who has the right to form a coalition. Both Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharat maintain they have the ‘right’ to form a lower house government. Just imagine all the late night phone calls criss-crossing the country at the moment?!
We won’t even get started on the petition to oust the Election Commission which has already gained over 600,000 signatures.
No one party will have an outright majority to form a government. Both Palang Pracharat and Pheu Thai will have to do deal with ‘hostiles’ in order to make up the numbers to form a lower house government. There are very few combinations of parties coming together where a LOT of distance will have to be covered to merge their competing policy differences.
Future Forward, the party with the third highest total seats, has little common ground with Pheu Thai, apart from wanting to rid the country of the military government. They’re even further, terminally separated really, from Palang Pracharat.
Future Forward has laid down three conditions for a coalition, based on its campaign pledges – to rewrite the constitution, eliminate the legacy of military coups and push for military reform so coups won’t happen again. Their 80+ votes would push Pheu Thai into an extremely strong position to form a government.
But the Democrats and BumJaiThai are likely more accommodating to negotiation, although seeing the Democrats side with Pheu Thai, once mortal political enemies, would be a long-shot. It’s more likely the Democrats would, if pushed, side with Palang Pracharat with their 53 lower house seats.
BumJaiThai is more complex to predict which way they will side. Their 51 or so seats will be a powerful swing, whichever way they go.
The other smaller parties, together, add up to a crucial buffer for one party or the other.
Most likely scenario
Casting our eyes into the political crystal ball (always dangerous in Thai politics), The Thaiger thinks that the Pheu Thai party is the more likely to be able to form a government – either with a decent majority (with BumJaiThai giving them their votes) or with the merest of slim majorities if BJT side with Palang Pracharat. Either way Pheu Thai are going to have to let some of their power slip to accommodate the other parties. And you can be assured that Thaksin is sitting comfortably, still in exile, crunching numbers and overseeing the discussions.
Even if this happens, the pro-military Senators may ignore the lower house mandate (if Pheu Thai pull it together) and side with Palang Pracharat to install Prayut as the PM of a new minority Government.
This would be highly unstable with almost all legislation being voted down in the lower house and needing both houses to sit to pass any new legislation. It wouldn’t be pretty.
The Thai elephant in the room
The Election Commission announced yesterday that they wouldn’t announce the official results of the election until… are you ready… May 9! That’s after the coronation of HM The King.
Whether parties can legally negotiate until the official results of the March 24 have been announced is a moot point – they already have.
The Coronation will therefore take place with a caretaker government and that point hasn’t even come up for discussion yet.
Thai elephant in the room II
Thaksin Shinawatra would be disappointed that his Pheu Thai government didn’t poll better but he’s already stated the bleeding obvious; that the system was specifically rigged to lessen the chances of yet another Pheu Thai victory. Despite living in exile, his political cunning will be felt in the coming weeks as he cobbles together a Pheu Thai coalition with other parties.
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