Thailand News Today | protestors hold no-confidence vote against prime minister
Thailand’s anti-government protesters are gathering support again as the country’s restrictions allow them to gather in groups and protest against the Prayut government. Now they’re running their own mock no-confidence poll as a real no-confidence debate is about to start in the Thai parliament tomorrow.
Yesterday, the Ratsadon group started collecting ‘votes’ for its own, informal no-confidence motion against the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. A formal no confidence debate will be held, starting tomorrow, in the Thai parliament, led by the opposition Move Forward and Pheu Thai political parties.
The Ratsadon group announced it is collecting signatures in 140 venues in 34 Thai provinces “to give people a chance to vote out the Thai PM”.
The Ratsadon group includes students (both secondary and university), academics and members of the Thai general public. It kicked off in 2020, just as the Thai government lifted its first series of lockdowns in August that year. The group has campaigned against PM Prayut, his government and to support reforms of the Thai constitution, including the role of the Head of State.
At the time, the references to the Thai Monarchy and a direct public attack on the highest institution in Thailand, had never before been uttered in a public space. The Prayut government cracked down on the groups, arresting the leaders using the blunt tools of Thailand’s Lese Majeste rules and the Covid rules about the “assembly of groups”, to limit their activities.
At its peak, the group, by then enlisting other disenfranchised interest groups from around the country, held a mass rally outside Government House on October 14, 2020. The ‘sit in’ followed a march involving thousands of participants from the Democracy Monument to the Government House property.
The rally was violently dispersed the following morning, with riot police using tear gas and rubber bullets.
Speaking about the latest protest, collecting signatures for their informal no-confidence vote, the group said they will count and submit their votes from around the country on Friday and submit them to the MPs before the actual no-confidence vote which is scheduled to take place on Saturday.
A narcotics enforcement team stumbled upon a 20 million baht drug haul of ecstasy tablets shaped as the fictional teddy bear Winnie the Pooh. Drug smugglers would be right in thinking “Oh, bother!”
It appears nothing is sacred anymore if drug dealers are disguising their narcotics as fictional cartoon characters. The drug haul prompts a dozen of Pooh memes, such as the obvious one, “I wasn’t going to eat it, I was just going to taste it.” Fortunately, no one will get to eat or taste the drugs thanks to a government patrol.
The drugs were found on the bank of the Mekong River in That Phanom district on Saturday night by a combined government patrol of soldiers, police, and navy soldiers.
The patrol found two abandoned black suitcases on the Mekong River bank while they were on the lookout for drugs being smuggled in from neighbouring Laos.
The suitcases were smuggled across to the Thai side of the river in a long-tail boat and dumped on the river bank in That Phanom district. Police reported that the drug mule fled back across the river after he dumped the delivery.
Police found 19 translucent plastic bags with about 19,000 ecstasy pills in the shape of Pooh Bear, and around 55,000 sleeping pills with a street value of about 20 million baht.
The authorities understand the ecstasy pills came from Europe, transferred to Laos from Europe, to be sold in Thailand.
Thailand is continuing to make its mark far beyond the kingdom’s borders. New York City’s city council has approved a bill to name one neighbourhood ‘Little Thailand.’
The neighbourhood in Queens is already called this name informally, as it has several Thai restaurants and businesses.
The bill proposed names for other neighbourhoods as well, based on large ethnic communities that live there. These include Little Bangladesh in Brooklyn, and Ukrainian Way, also in Brooklyn. Now that the bill has been approved by the city council, it will go to Mayor Eric Adam’s desk for approval.
The Facebook page Little Thailand NY has posted several photos showing the neighbourhood’s vibrancy and strong connection to Thai culture. Photos from May show people dressed in traditional Thai costumes for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The only other Thai neighbourhood in the US that is officially recognised in its name is ‘Thai Town’ in Los Angeles. The neighbourhood was designated under this name in 1999 by Los Angeles City Council. Now that ‘Little Thailand’ is a possibility, it seems that Thai Americans are proudly spreading their heritage across the US.
The move of the official bi-monthly Thai lottery to a digital form continues apace. Thais are showing their increasing preference to purchase their lottery tickets through the “Pao Tang” app, instead of through the traditional street lottery vendors.
7.1 million new digital lottery tickets for the August 1 draw are now available and can be bought 24/7 at the standard rate of 80 baht per ticket. The last bundle of 5.1 million tickets, for the recent July 16 draw, sold out in just two days, indicating the huge popularity of the new digital lottery app.
Authorities say they launched this new digital tickets to tackle the problem of perceived overpricing by some vendors, who sold some tickets with, quote, ‘lucky’ numbers at inflated prices. Now anyone can choose their favourite lottery ticket numbers and purchase as many lottery tickets as they want, online.
But some critics suggest that the new digital sales make it easier for scalpers to buy up huge quantities of digital tickets to on-sell at inflated prices. The traditional street vendors and physical tickets made it much more difficult for scalpers to rip off Thai lottery enthusiasts.
But the chairman of the Government Lottery Office Board denies that they have seen any need to limit the amount of new digital tickets released by the Board. He says that there have been approximately 900,000 customers buying an average of 5-6 tickets each and “without any sign of mass purchasing by a small number of buyers”.
Thailand’s only legal gambling outlet is through the bi-monthly lottery, a widely televised event every two weeks, usually on the 1st and 16th of any month. The next lottery draw will be on August 1.
If you’re looking for the next big thing for Thailand, the Tourism Authority of Thailand suggests looking up. The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand has teamed up with the TAT to launch the new Amazing Dark Sky Thailand, which focuses on attracting those who appreciate staring up at the night sky.
In a country whose main concern with celestial bodies is where to party for the Full Moon, the new program gathers a collection of 12 perfect locations around the country for stargazing and dark sky conservation. The areas are scattered around five key regions across the kingdom.
The programme was first created in 2020 when NARIT joined the TAT to raise awareness about light pollution, or what is apparently now called dark sky conservation. The goal was to create and grow this new style of tourism that would help preserve quiet and dark areas by making the peaceful night skies a tourist attraction in itself.
The designated dark sky conservation areas are locations that are equipped with tourism facilities, but have wide open spaces and an absence of manmade light pollution, allowing astronomical observation without the use of telescopes or other devices.
A travel guide with routes and astronomy details has been launched along with the website darksky.narit.or.th.
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