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  • Thammanat, new lightning rod and hot potato
    Being a complete political outcast is difficult, especially in Thailand, where one man’s villain is easily another man’s hero. Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao has not fallen into the “ostracized”...

    Being a complete political outcast is difficult, especially in Thailand, where one man’s villain is easily another man’s hero. Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao has not fallen into the “ostracized” category yet, but it looks increasingly like he may have fewer and fewer friends from now on.

     

    Many in the government bloc did not like it when he was appointed to the Cabinet. The foreign media and activists mentioned his shady background long before it became a big news story a few days ago. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has been made awkward by a media question about Thammanat being stripped of a military rank when he (Chuan) was prime minister. For the opposition, seeing his name on the ministerial line-up must feel like a dream come true, as they must have seen him as a sitting duck.

     

    The opposition’s target practice has begun, following a reopening by Australia’s media of his legal past in their country.  The Herald and The Age reported that he spent four years in a Sydney jail in the 1990s for his role in trafficking 3.2 kilograms of heroin into Australia. He was deported on his release, it was said.

     

    He has threatened to sue, insisting that he was never convicted and was only spending time in custody to fight his case. An opposition leader, Seripisut Temiyavej, head of the Seri Ruamthai Party, claimed responsibility for “tipping off” the Australian media. Several other Cabinet members declined comments, asking reporters to approach Thammanat himself. Chuan invoked his characteristic “I did everything according to due process” when confronted about the rank stripping.

     

    In short, a can of worm has been opened. Thammat’s legal past _ what exactly happened in Australia _ can be very important to determining whether his appointment was proper or even constitutional. But through all this, the biggest opposition party cannot be totally happy.

     

    Thammanat entered politics by joining Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party, which even made him a party-list candidate. But for a nullification of an election in 2014, he could also have been a Pheu Thai party-list MP under Yingluck Shinawatra as well. It’s anyone’s guess how far he could have gone from there.

     

    He defected to Palang Pracharat after Prayut Chan-o-cha’s coup. While he served as a Bangkok strategist for Thaksin’s party, the controversial man has been entrusted to look for weak spots of its rural dominance by his new bosses. He has satisfied them, say news reports, which also speculate that he must have developed a strong bond with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

     

    Prayut and Prawit have been guardedly protective of him. But that can change, with dirt continues to be dug up.

     

    His appointment to the Cabinet is deemed part of crucial evidence that the politics of old remains undefeated, with influential faction leaders getting the ministerial picks ahead of truly qualified people.

     

    Obviously a lightning rod, Thammanat is also apparently a hot potato. He has cut Thaksin’s party loose but the man is now in a position where just about everyone may have to cut him loose. Politics, after all, has done that to less controversial people.

     

     

     

     

     

    12 September 2019
    Profiles
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238820
  • Chuan confirms Opposition debate will proceed despite charter court’s rejection of oath issue petition
    House Speaker Chuan Leekpai made clear this morning (Thursday) that the Opposition’s debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s incomplete oath recital on September 18 will proceed as scheduled. He said...

    House Speaker Chuan Leekpai made clear this morning (Thursday) that the Opposition’s debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s incomplete oath recital on September 18 will proceed as scheduled.

    He said that the debate, without a vote, is part of the legislature’s check and balance process, as defined in the Constitution.

    Members of parliament have the right to debate, question and offer advice to the government, said Mr. Chuan, adding that the Constitutional Court’s refusal to accept the two petitions concerning oath issue has nothing to do with parliament’s performance of its duty.

    Mr. Chuan’s statement was in response to a call made by a senator that the scheduled debate should now be cancelled after the Constitutional Court had given its ruling.

    Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn suggests that opposition MPs carefully read the court’s ruling and warned about the risk of being found in contempt of court if they go ahead with the debate, citing Section 211 of the Constitution which specifies that the ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and binding on parliament, the cabinet, the courts of justice, independent organizations and governmental agencies.

    Senator Somchai repeated a section in the charter court’s ruling which states that the oath taking ceremony, held in the presence of His Majesty the King, is beyond the scope of authority of charter-mandated organizations to examine.

    Meanwhile, Palang Pracharat chief whip Mr. Wirat Rattanaseth said that House Speaker Chuan had the authority to make the call whether the opposition debate should proceed as scheduled.

    Whatever the decision by Mr. Chuan, he said the party was ready to face the opposition in the House.

     

    12 September 2019
    Highlight
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238818
  • IUCN officials conduct biodiversity survey of Khao Phanoen Thung in Phetchaburi province
    Officials from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), accompanied by Thai government representatives, are due to visit Khao Phanoen Thung, a forested mountain in the Kaeng Krachan...

    Officials from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), accompanied by Thai government representatives, are due to visit Khao Phanoen Thung, a forested mountain in the Kaeng Krachan national park, as part of their mission to gather data for inclusion in an updated report to be submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

    In July, the World Heritage Committee, meeting in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, postponed Thailand’s proposal for Kaeng Krachan forest complex to be listed as a World Heritage site.

    The committee asked that Thailand gather additional information on three areas of concern, namely the forest’s boundary with Myanmar, the ethnic communities living in the forest complex and the downsizing of the forest complex. The updated report is to be submitted to the UNESCO committee within three years.

    The Kaeng Krachan complex straddles the provinces of Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan. It covers the Kaeng Krachan, Koi Buri and Chalerm Phrakiart Prachan national parks and Maenam Pachee wildlife sanctuary with a combined territory of 174,000 hectares.

    IUCN officials met with ethnic Karen, from Ban Pong Loek and Ban Bang Kloy in Kaeng Krachan district of Phetchaburi province, to ascertain what they knew about World Heritage status and to discuss their concerns over the proposed listing of the site.

    At the same meeting, Kaeng Krachan park chief Mr. Mana Permpoon said that his officials had completed a survey of ethnic Karen land ownership.  He claimed that the Karen had accepted the conditions set by the government regarding their stay in the park.

     

    12 September 2019
    Around Thailand
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238811
  • UK’s worst-case no-deal Brexit plan warns of food shortages, public disorder
    LONDON (Reuters) – The British government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit warn of severe disruption to cross-Channel routes, affecting the supply of medicines and certain types of fresh foods, and...

    LONDON (Reuters) – The British government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit warn of severe disruption to cross-Channel routes, affecting the supply of medicines and certain types of fresh foods, and say that protests and counter-protests will take place across the country, accompanied by a possible rise in public disorder.

    The “Operation Yellowhammer” worst-case assumptions published on Wednesday were prepared on Aug. 2, the government said, nine days after Boris Johnson became prime minister, and form the basis of its no-deal planning.

    The document, which looks at the worst that could happen if Britain leaves the European Union on Oct. 31 without a deal, said public and business readiness for such an outcome would likely be low, in part because of continued political confusion in the run-up to Brexit day.

     

    It said lorries could have to wait up to two and a half days to cross the English Channel and British citizens could be subject to increased immigration checks at EU border posts.

    “Certain types of fresh food supply will decrease,” it said. “There is a risk that panic buying will cause or exacerbate food supply disruption.”

    It said the flow of traffic across the English channel could be reduced by as much as 60% on the first day after a no-deal Brexit. The worst disruption could last for up to three months.

    Traffic queues could affect fuel deliveries, disrupting supplies in London and south-east England, and panic buying could cause shortages in other parts of the country, it said.

    Cross-border financial services would be affected as would information-sharing between police and security services, according to the document.

    Documents from Operation Yellowhammer were first published in the Sunday Times newspaper on Aug. 18.

    Michael Gove, the minister in charge of coordinating “no-deal” preparations, said then that the document was old and did not reflect current levels of preparedness.

    He said on Wednesday that assumptions contained in the five-page published document were currently being reviewed, but they were the most recent complete iteration of the plans.

    The opposition Labour Party said the document confirmed the severe risks of a no-deal Brexit.

    “It is completely irresponsible for the government to have tried to ignore these stark warnings and prevent the public from seeing the evidence,” said Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer.

    “Boris Johnson must now admit that he has been dishonest with the British people about the consequence of a No Deal Brexit.”

    In releasing the document, Gove was acceding to a request from lawmakers. But he refused to make public the advice of government advisers about Johnson’s decision to prorogue, or suspend, parliament from Monday until Oct. 14.

    Scotland’s highest court of appeal ruled that decision was unlawful on Wednesday, prompting calls for lawmakers to return to work.

    Gove said the publication of advice given to ministers would be an “inappropriate and disproportionate” use of parliamentary procedure, and the individuals would have no right to reply.

     

    12 September 2019
    International
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238807
  • Waipote stripped of MP status, faces arrest to serve time in prison
    Palang Pracharat MP for Kamphaeng Phet province Pol Lt-Gen Waipote Arpornrat has lost his Member of Parliament (MP) status after the Supreme Court upheld the 4 year prison sentence handed...

    Palang Pracharat MP for Kamphaeng Phet province Pol Lt-Gen Waipote Arpornrat has lost his Member of Parliament (MP) status after the Supreme Court upheld the 4 year prison sentence handed down by the Appeals Court for his involvement in the disruption of the ASEAN Summit in Pattaya in 2009.

    As the Supreme Court is the final arbiter in the case, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm said that Pol Lt-Col Waipote immediately loses his parliamentary membership and is not protected by parliamentary immunity.

    12 former leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, including Waipote, were sentenced to 4 years in prison for their roles in leading hundreds of red-shirt protesters in the storming of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya, where the ASEAN meeting was being held, resulting to the abrupt cancellation of the summit and evacuation of all ASEAN leaders.

    Meanwhile, a Palang Pracharat party source said that the party might field Waipote’s son, Mr. Petchapoom, to contest the by-election in Constituency 2 of Kamphaeng Phet province.

     

    12 September 2019
    News
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238801
  • Hong Kong Stock Exchange unveils shock £32bn bid for London rival
    (AFP) The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has bid almost £32 billion for its London rival in a shock move Wednesday to bring together two of the world’s largest financial hubs...

    (AFP) The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has bid almost £32 billion for its London rival in a shock move Wednesday to bring together two of the world’s largest financial hubs in Asia and Europe.

    The blockbuster proposal including debt, worth $40 billion or 36 billion euros, is dependent on the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) scrapping a proposed $27-billion takeover of US financial data provider Refinitiv.

    In reaction, LSEG said it would “consider the proposal” but stressed that it “remains committed” to buying Refinitiv.

    The surprise news initially sent LSEG shares surging 10 percent before it pared the gain to 5.9 percent at £72.06, far below the offer price of more than £83 per share as analysts doubted the likelihood of a deal being struck given LSEG’s commitment to Refinitiv.

    London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index added 1.0 percent overall at the close.

    “Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) today announces that it has made a proposal to the board of LSEG to combine the two companies,” it said in a statement.

    The cash-and-shares offer is worth £31.6 billion including £2.0 billion of debt, HKEX added.

    – Connecting East with West –

    The Hong Kong company said a deal would create a combined group “ideally positioned to benefit from the evolving global macroeconomic landscape, connecting the established financial markets in the West with the emerging financial markets in the East, particularly in China.”

    HKEX chairman Laura Cha said a deal represented a “compelling” opportunity.

    She added: “We believe a combination of HKEX and LSEG represents a highly compelling strategic opportunity to create a global market infrastructure group, bringing together the largest and most significant financial centres in Asia and Europe.

    “Following early engagement with LSEG, we look forward to working in detail with the LSEG board to demonstrate that this transaction is in the best interests of all stakeholders, investors and both businesses.”

    The gigantic takeover comes just one month after the LSEG embarked upon a huge deal to acquire Refinitiv, a move that would create a market information giant to rival US titan Bloomberg.

    The HKSE deal is subject to approval by both sets of shareholders, as well as the termination of the Refinitiv deal, which Charles Li, HKEX exececutive director, underlined was a prerequisite.

    – ‘Scepticism’ over deal –

    “The proposed offer would be totemic in terms of East-West relations,” said Richard Hunter, head of markets at online broker Interactive Investor.

    But he also noted that the share price has shed half of its initial gains and remains far below the bid level.

    “The proposal is a fascinating prospect but far from a done deal,” Hunter said.

    “The fact that the LSE share price has already retreated from the initial 10-percent spike on release of the news may reflect some initial scepticism around the likelihood of the deal going through.”

    The Refinitiv takeover had marked a major change of LSE strategy and comes two years after its failed £21-billion merger with Germany’s Deutsche Boerse.

    That gigantic deal — the third failed attempt at a tie-up between the British and German stock exchange operators — was blocked by the European Commission on fears it would undercut competition.

     

    12 September 2019
    Business
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238796
  • Seripisut claims to be the whistleblower who told SMH about Thammanat’s criminal past
    Seri Ruam Thai party leader Gen Seripisut Temiyavet claimed today that he was the source who tipped off the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in Australia to investigate the details surrounding...

    Seri Ruam Thai party leader Gen Seripisut Temiyavet claimed today that he was the source who tipped off the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in Australia to investigate the details surrounding the conviction, in a narcotics case, of Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao.

    The former police chief today assigned an MP from his party, Pol Lt-Gen Wissanu Muangpraesee, to submit an interpellation to the House Speaker, demanding an explanation from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha about the appointment of Thammanat as a member of his cabinet, despite the latter’s criminal background in Australia.

    He said that people involved in narcotics trafficking are not good people and he could not understand how Thammanat was given a cabinet post, despite the fact that he had spent time in prison in Australia following conviction on drug charges.

    The Seri Ruam Thai party leader said that he was not afraid that he might be sued for providing information to the Australian media. Even though Thammanat’s case in Australia was many years ago, Seripisut said he doubted the former was qualified to be an MP.

    Answering an interpellation of the Seri Ruam Thai party in the House about his drug conviction in Australia several decades ago, Thammanat said that he welcomed the opportunity to talk about his past so that it will not return to haunt him and undermine his resolve to pay back to society.

    Thammanat, well known for his role as the government’s fixer, claimed that he was never jailed for drug charges in Australia, but was detained for about eight months during the plea bargaining process.

    He said he was sent to a farm to look after young hooligans who were detained there for about six months and then sent back to Sydney where he worked for about four years.  

    The deputy agriculture minister further added that, after four years, he didn’t want to return to Thailand, but wanted to spend more time there with his family. However, he decided to return home as a free man, without a past record of drug dealing, as claimed by the SMH newspaper.

    After his clarification in the House today, Thammanat said he hoped his nightmare of the past 30 years would be over adding, however, that he was willing to clarify in private if anyone still has doubts about his past.

    11 September 2019
    News
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238792
  • Charter court shoots down two petitions related to PM’s incomplete oath recital
    Thailand’s Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected two petitions challenging the constitutionality of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s incomplete recital of his oath of office on July 16. One was submitted by...

    Thailand’s Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected two petitions challenging the constitutionality of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s incomplete recital of his oath of office on July 16. One was submitted by a Ramkhamhaeng University student through the Ombudsman’s Office and the other by Ruangkrai Likitwattana, former member of the now defunct Thai Raksa Chart Party.

    In one of the cases, university student Panupong Churak claimed that his rights and liberty had been violated by the Prime Minister’s action, which he claimed was unconstitutional. The Ombudsman’s Office found his case valid for submission to the Constitutional Court for consideration.

    For a petition regarding the violation of an individual’s rights and liberty to be accepted by the charter court, the court said that the alleged violation must be committed by a state agency, a state official or an agency exercising state authority.

    The court said that the swearing-in ceremony was a political issue concerning the cabinet and the Monarchy, adding that it was beyond the jurisdiction of the court to examine the cabinet’s swearing of an oath in the presence of HM the King.

    In his petition to the charter court, Ruangkrai claimed that the swearing-in of the Prime Minister and his cabinet was unconstitutional and that the presentation of government policy statement to parliament amounted to an act of sabotage against constitutional democracy.

    The court said that Ruangkrai’s claim related to a factual issue which the Prime Minister had already taken steps to resolve before Ruangkrai submitted his petition.

    The court also ruled that there was no evidence of the commission of subversive acts intended to overthrow democratic rule with the King as head of state, as claimed by Ruangkrai. The court, therefore, unanimously rejected Ruangkrai’s petition.

    11 September 2019
    General
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238787
  • Serving police officer arrested with 198,000 meth pills in his luggage on a bus in Chiang Rai province
    A police investigative inspector in the central Thai province of Uthai Thani has been arrested by police in Mae Sai district of the northern province of Chiang Rai after almost...

    A police investigative inspector in the central Thai province of Uthai Thani has been arrested by police in Mae Sai district of the northern province of Chiang Rai after almost 200,000 methamphetamine tablets were found in his luggage on a Bangkok-bound bus.

    Mae Sai district policemen, manning a checkpoint in Tambon Pong-Ngam, stopped a Nakhonchai Tour company bus, bound for Bangkok from Mae Sai, for a routine check.

    The officers found a locked case the luggage rack adjacent to seat No 1A, occupied by Pol Lt-Col Surachit Thavuth, and asked him to open the bag for inspection.

    Surachit managed to escape from the bus and hid in the roadside bushes, prompting a search.  He was apprehended and taken back to the bus to unlock the bag, where the stash of meth was found.

    The Uthai Thani police inspector reportedly admitted he went to Mae Sai to take delivery of the drugs for transport to a drug dealer, whom he identified as ‘Oak’, in Bangkok in return for 100,000 baht cash.

    After his arrest, it is reported that Surachit was temporarily suspended from duty and a disciplinary committee has been set up to deal with the matter.

    Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen said the national police chief, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, ordered the investigation to be expanded to find the mastermind behind this illicit drug deal.

    11 September 2019
    General
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238783
  • 12 former UDD leaders imprisoned for 4 years by Supreme Court for disrupting the 2009 ASEAN Summit in Pattaya
    The Supreme Court today upheld the four-year prison terms imposed on 12 former core members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) for their role in leading red-shirt...

    The Supreme Court today upheld the four-year prison terms imposed on 12 former core members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) for their role in leading red-shirt protesters in breaking up the ASEAN Summit at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort in Pattaya on April 11th, 2009.

    The Supreme Court, however, acquitted the 4th defendant, Mr. Somyot Promma, on the grounds that he was not a core member of the UDD, but an ordinary member.

    Only Mr. Sakda Noppasit, the 10th defendant and currently secretary-general of Pheu Chart party, was present at the Pattaya provincial court today when the Supreme Court’s verdict was read.

    The 12 former UDD core leaders who were sentenced to four years are:

    Arisman Pongruangrong Sakda Noppasit

    Nisit Sinthuprai Pol Lt-Col Waipote Arpornrat

    Payap Pankate Nopporn Namchiangtai

    Worachai Hema Sanroeng Prachamrua

    Wanchana Kerddee Dr. Wallop Youngtrong

    Pichet Sukchindathong Singthong Buachoom

    Hundreds of red-shirt protesters overwhelmed police and military officers when they stormed the hotel.  ASEAN leaders attending the summit had been evacuated by military helicopters to Sattahip naval base before the arrival of the protesters.  

    Protesters loyal to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra storm the venue of the 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits after smashing a window, in Pattaya some 180 km south-east of Bangkok on April 11, 2009. Thousands of Thai anti-government protesters later smashed their way into a summit of Asian leaders, forcing the country’s embattled government to postpone the entire meeting indefinitely. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in the resort of Pattaya after chaos erupted at the summit, which was supposed to discuss the global financial crisis and North Korea’s rocket launch. AFP PHOTO (Photo by STR / AFP)

    The protests in Pattaya were part of attempts by the red-shirt movement to overthrow the Democrat-led government at the time. 

    After the reading of the verdict, the Supreme Court issued warrants for the arrest of the 12 former red-shirt leaders, who had been granted bail.

    Pol Lt Col Waipote is currently a Palang Pracharat MP for Kamphaeng Phet province. It is reported that he was attending a House meeting when the verdict was read in Pattaya.

    Although there is a warrant for his arrest, Waipote is protected by parliamentary immunity and police cannot apprehend him without an approval from the House of Representatives.

    The whereabouts of the other UDD core members are unknown.

    11 September 2019
    Highlight
    https://www.thaipbsworld.com/?p=238780