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PM Prayut clarifies election date

The Thaiger & The Nation

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PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday announced firmly that the election would be held in November next year, following a previous indication that it would be in June 2019.

“For this [election] part, it was said that it would be around June 2018 that there will be the announcement of the election date, and then in November, there will be the election,” Prayut said after meetings of the Cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order at Government House.

Asked whether this follows the “road map”, the premier reiterated: “Yes, I told you that the election will be held in November.”

It is the fifth alternative of the junta’s so-called “road map to democracy” since Prayut’s military-installed government came to power in Thailand in 2014.

The junta has lately remained tight-lipped on spelling out a clear election timetable, citing several factors, including complicated charter drafting and amendments, the enactment of complicated organic laws and the late King’s funeral, all of which it said had contributed to changes in the planned date.

Critics suspect that the junta has taken those factors as opportunities to push out the election date while they prepare to build long-binding governing mechanisms, such as the 20-year national strategy.

During his trip to the US last week, Prayut made another promise, assuring US President Donald Trump that the election date would be announced next year. Their joint statement also suggested free and fair elections in 2018.

When he met with the Thai community during his visit, however, he told them that the election should take place in 2019, many months later than the junta-appointed legislators had projected following the latest road map addressed in the new charter. This prompted confusion over the road map and the coming election.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said that Prayut’s remarks were not obligatory, as he had merely “updated domestic situations” during a joint press conference.

Parties told to calm down

Government Spokesperson Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd explained that the new timeline follows the one calculated by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam according to stipulations in the current charter.

Regarding the four organic laws essential to hold an election, the two laws on the Election Commission and political parties were already promulgated and the other two, on the election of MPs and the selection of Senators, are due to be considered by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) next month.

It will take three months for deliberation and another three months for the King to consider his royal endorsement.

When including extra time for amendments to the bills, the election date should be able to be settled by next June, the spokesperson said.

Since the charter says that election must be organised by 150 days, or around five months, after the organic laws are in effect, the election must be held in following November, he explained.

Prayut, meanwhile, urged political parties to calm down, adding that restrictions on political activities would be subject to debate. He said that the NCPO had acknowledged the issue at the meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, however, asked for time to consider lifting the ban on political activities, as he wished to deliberate the most appropriate time to do so. He would prefer to see this month completed first before coming to a decision, he said.

Prawit said he had no idea what conditions would follow the lifting of the ban, but one thing was certain: that political gatherings would still not be allowed following such a move.

He said political parties would still have time, either 90 or 180 days as stipulated under the new political party law, to prepare for the coming general election – a period he considered long enough. The lifting of the ban would definitely come in time for parties to work things out ahead of the election, he said.

The NCPO discussed the matter yesterday and speculation about the date of November 1 for lifting the ban on political activities was unfounded, Prawit said.

STORY: The Nation

- The Thaiger & The Nation

Thailand's fastest growing portal for news and information, in association with The Nation.

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Phuket

A man was fished out of the Surin Beach surf today – whilst on-duty lifesavers watched

The Thaiger

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PHOTOS: Pavida Anantarasmi

Witnesses at Surin Beach today watched in bemused confusion when a man, who was in difficulty whilst swimming off Surin Beach today, was helped back to shore. But not by one of the lifeguards on duty at the beach who stood at the shore and watched the rescue take place.

The incident happened around 11am when a man, later identified as from Lebanon, was swimming off the beach in an area patrolled by the employed lifeguards. There was no designated swimming area set aside by the lifeguards.

A local surfer, from The Philippines, noticed that the man was in difficulty and rushed to his assistance. The paid lifeguards watched from the shoreline and helped the man once he was back to shore.

A former lifeguard at the beach made the comment that the new lifeguards “don’t like to swim as they don’t have confidence or training.”

“They didn’t have any of the required equipment to attempt a rescue.”

The man was taken to the Thalang Hospital.

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Chiang Rai

Thai and foreign media warned off Mu Pa 13

The Thaiger

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“Stay away.”

That’s the warning issued by the public relations office of Chiang Rai province after a correspondent of America’s ABC News conducted an interview with the youngest of the survivors from Tham Luang cave in defiance of advice of psychiatrists and child welfare officials. The film crew also visited the church for 14 year old Adul Sam-on where church members threw Adul a welcome home party.

Members of the Thai and foreign media have been asked not to interview any of the 12 Wild Boars young footballers or face legal that could lead to a six-month imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 60,000 baht.

The warning  was issued by the public relations office of Chiang Rai province after a correspondent of ABC News had an interview with one of the survivors from Tham Luang cave in defiance of advice of psychiatrists and child welfare officials.

Chiang Rai deputy governor Somboon Sirivet said that the governor had instructed officials concerned in Mae Sai disttrict and the parents of the 12 young footballers to make sure that the boys are protected and that they should not give any interviews to the media.

Parents of the 12 boys went to Tham Luang cave today to attend a religious ceremony to pay respect and show gratitude to the what they believe to be spirits protecting the cave for the safe return of  their children after being stranded deep inside the flooded cave for more than two weeks before they were safely rescued last week.

SOURCES: Thai PBS, The Chiang Rai Times

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Regional

Malaysian Mahathir government to look at reducing voting age to 18 from 21

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Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister and the youngest ever minister,  says the Malaysian government is planning to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 before the next elections in 2023.

In an interview with Bloomberg in KL, the 25 year old Cabinet member said the government would ask the Attorney-General’s Office to look into what laws to be amended to reduce the voting age to 18 which would add an another 3.7 million voters or an increase of 25 percent from the election in May.

New Straits Times is reporting that voters aged 21-39 make up around 40 percent of the Malaysian electorate, twice the number of voters over 60, according to the Election Commission data.

“That means the youth vote block becomes bigger and stronger, and therefore, they cannot be sidelined in the Malaysian political scene anymore,” said Saddiq, a member of Mahathir’s political party.

“The youth care about two primary issues,” said Saddiq. “One is abut bread and butter issues, which is cost of living, affordable housing, good employment opportunities, and quality of life. The second is getting their voice heard in the nation-building process,” said the minister.

About 75 percent of younger voters backed the opposition, according to Ibrahim Suffian, the executive director of pollster Merdeka Centrem whick tracks voter sentiments. The Merdeka Centre estimated a voter turnout of about 81 percent for youths with urban areas of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor seeing more young people outplace their elders in casting ballots.

Syed, who has pledged to reshuffle youth associations to make sure they’re led by people under the age of 35, also wants to phase out political appointees in sports and give more attention to student programmes that involve coding, automation, and artificial intelligence.

Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (picture from Malaysiakini.com)

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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