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Pushing the election date forward, again

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Pushing the election date forward, again | The Thaiger
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By Wasamon Audjarint and Kas Chanwenpen

Faced with mounting pressure from critics and the international community, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said the next election would be held “no later than” next February.

While making his latest promise about the election date, however, Prayut also warned that it would also depend on the situation at the time.

“I am not making any threats. Let’s see what happens when the ban on political activities is lifted,” he said.

He rejected speculation that his post-coup government was plotting to cause endless delays to the election to stay in power. Suspicions to that effect grew after the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted to postpone enforcement of the MPs election bill for 90 days.

“Now I will give you a clear answer. The election will take place no later than February 2019,” the prime minister told Government House reporters during a press briefing.

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He confirmed that an election would be held by then, even though all the election commissioners needed to be recruited again after the previous candidates were rejected.

“There must not be any vacancies that affect the election,” he said.

It is the fourth time that the junta has officially delayed the election since its originally promised date in 2015.

Speculation about a February 2019 poll has arisen since the junta-appointed NLA last month decided to delay promulgation of the MPs law by 90 days from Prayut’s earlier promised date of November 2018.

Yesterday, however, was the first official confirmation of the election delay.

It also came despite increasing restlessness among pro-democracy activists, who do not buy into the NLA’s reasoning and want the election to be held this year without further postponement.

Prayut’s promise of a November 2018 election was also partly why the European Union agreed to resume political contacts with the government at all levels.

Critics were yesterday not convinced by Prayut’s latest comments about the new election date.

Activist Siriwith Seritiwat, a core leader of the pro-election movement, slammed Prayut for being inconsistent in his promises.

“His words are no longer credible because he always changes,” the activist said.

“This is no different from when he said the election would happen in November 2018. It is just untrustworthy. He is just trying to reduce the pressure on the government right now.”

Siriwith said the pro-election movement was maintaining its stance that the election must be held this year and he promised it would continue demonstrating until its demand was met.

Yesterday, Prayut also said the “five rivers of power”, a term describing five junta-appointed bodies, should be able to meet after March to resolve outstanding issues related to the election date.

March is also when the two remaining organic laws, the MPs election bill and the Senate selection bill, are expected to be finished by the NLA before being forwarded to the prime minister and then submitted for royal endorsement.

The palace will then take up to 90 days, or by June, before the laws will be announced in the Royal Gazette, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam’s advice to the Cabinet. As quoted by Government Spokesperson Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd, Wissanu said that since the MPs election bill would take another 90 days to become effective, the law should be promulgated in September.

The MPs election bill will be the last of four organic laws essential to hold the election. Once it is in effect, the election will be organised within 150 days from when the all four laws are ready in September.

Wissanu concluded that the election should consequently be held between next September and February.

“But how soon the election will be held will depend on our readiness and the situation by then,” Sansern said. “The National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] hopes we can follow the road map.”

Prayut also said yesterday authorities would continue to “monitor” the country’s situation during the 150-day period.

“There should be no instigation once the political ban is lifted,” Prayut said. “But this doesn’t mean that the election will not be held. The [election-related] laws should not be rejected either.”

While the political ban was still in place, Prayut said, a junta order issued in December would allow new parties to choose their party names and hold meetings to prepare for new electoral regulations.

But the moves needed to be permitted by the NCPO on a case-by-case basis, the premier said.

The same order would also require existing parties to compile a database of existing members starting on April 1, but they would still be unable to hold meetings, he added.

SOURCE: The Nation

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The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO

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The Thai government threw a tourist party (sound of crickets) | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The Thai Government, flushed with the success of their containment of Covid-19, decided to market the Land of Smiles to the world as the safe place to travel. With the annual wet season starting to weaken the tourists would flock back to the S E Asian country that had such a remarkable success containing, then almost eradicating itself, of the coronavirus.

Then they came up with the STV – the special tourist visa which would have the world’s eager travellers packing their sun cream for up to 270 days of Thai tourism.

There were promises of plane loads of tourists and even published flights and carriers. A few flights arrived, most didn’t.

In fact, since the start of the STV, the Special Tourist Visa, with its long list of restrictions and requirements, was floated, along with a re-vamped Tourist Visa, less than 400 people have arrived per month, on average, since the end of October. In the October and November of the year before more than 3 million people arrived in Thailand. Even the government’s limit of 1,200 new tourist arrivals per month was even slightly tested.

The government had bought all the streamers and a pretty new dress for the party but no one came.

What went wrong?

Where was the much-anticipated pent-up demand and people banging on the doors of the world’s Thai embassies?

It was the European winter and the ‘snowbirds’ would surely be back to soak in some Thai sun rays. But no.

The first problem was there wasn’t much for them to come back to. They would have the beaches of the islands all to themselves, they wouldn’t have to wait in line for anything, the domestic airlines were still selling low fares to Tavel anywhere around the country.

But otherwise there wasn’t a lot for them to do. The tourism magnets were a shadow of their former selves. Walking Street, Bangla Road, tours and tour boats, all the tourist strip restaurants. The buzz of the crowds was gone and more than 90% of the tourist-related business had closed up.

Their staff, their families, their bank loans, their stock and investments – all on hold and forced to find come other means to make ends meet. 931 of some of the larger official tourism operators have now gone out of business, according to Bloomberg News. There would be thousands of the smaller family operations that have also been swept aside by the Thai government’s responses to the world pandemic.

 

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone

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Myanmar cancels Thai investment in the Dawei Special Economic Zone | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Environment Justice Atlas

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee has announced the cancellation on the deep seaport project contract with Italian-Thai Development (ITD), one of Thailand’s leading industrial firms, by saying that they “lost confidence” in the company after long, controversial issues.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee said that the Thai company has caused them “repeated delays, continuing breaches of financial obligations under the contracts and the concessionaires’ failure to confirm their financial capacity to proceed with development”.

They say they will look for new development partners to continue the projects. Currently, there are still no comments from ITD.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone is Myanmar’s initiative to encourage international investments into the country, but the project has been delayed because of funding problems and local opposition.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights

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Covid-19 travel pass to pilot on Etihad and Emirates Airways flights | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Travel Daily

A travel pass for passengers inoculated against Covid-19 or who have tested negative will be piloted on flights for Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways. With the travel pass issued by the International Air Transport Association, passengers can keep control of their data and share their test results with airlines and authorities for travel.

The travel pass will be offered on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter, and will expand the pass to other destinations of the trail is successful. Emirates is going to implement phase 1 of the travel pass in April for flights departing from Dubai.

Recently, the IATA travel pass programme has been also tested in International Airlines Group and Singapore Airlines.

SOURCE: Reuters

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