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Elections at least 15 months away

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2014 at 18:40 PM
An interim government will be formed in time to administer the state budget for the next fiscal year, but elections are at least 15 months away, coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Friday. Gen Prayuth also outlined a broader plan to reform the country before returning it to a government elected under conditions that all people can accept. Under the timetable he announced in a televised address, an election could be held in 15 months at the earliest. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Three step roadmap

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2014 at 20:56 PM
Chief of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday night that the three-step roadmap begins with national reconciliation followed by reform and election. The first step would take a few months to launch reconciliation for reform center in the capital and entire the nation. The Internal Security Operation Command would take responsibility. The reconciliation would begin from the smallest unit of the society, which is family and later expand to village, tambon, district and province. The centre would bring people who have different political ideas to come together, he said. The reconciliation would not include changing bureaucracy structure or granting amnesty to any groups. The second step is to have temporary charter to govern the country, setting up national assembly, selecting Prime Minister and cabinet members to form the government to run the country. The reform council would be set up to carry out all necessary reform tasks. This step would take at least a year, depends on situation. The final step is to have general election, free and fair election which all parties could contest freely, Prayuth said. (Source:The Nation)Meanwhile more countries and the EU apply sanctions or withdraw their aid programs, because they think the current process is not democratic. Some countries, according to foreign media, say Myanmar is now more democratic than Thailand.


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Steps towards elections

Posted by hasekamp on 29 May 2014 at 13:10 PM
Coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has issued guidelines for officials to follow so the country can advance toward an election and full democracy, army deputy spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong said on Thursday. Col Sirichan said Gen Prayuth, head of the National Council for Peace and Order, issued his directions in a video conference with heads of various sections set up by the NCPO. Authorities should take three steps: quickly restore normal administration to the country; create favourable conditions, including the establishment of a legislative council and a reform council; and work toward holding elections under a <strong>full-fledged democracy</strong>. Gen Prayuth wanted this done as soon as possible, but did not set a timeframe. He instructed heads of the six working sections under the NCPO to keep him well briefed on their progress, she said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Longer public transport

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2014 at 12:10 PM
The BTS skytrain, MRT subway and Air Port Rail Link have announced that their services will run from 6 am to 11 pm, starting from today (Wednesday 28 May) until further notice. They extend service times from 9 pm after the National Council for Peace and Order reduced curfew time from 10 pm to 5 am to from midnight to 4 am. (Source: The Nation)


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Facebook blocked

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2014 at 12:06 PM
The Facebook website was been blocked in Thailand on Wednesday afternoon. Social media users across the country have not been able to access the site since 3pm. According to telecommunications sources, about 30 million Facebook accounts have been blocked. After army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha declared a coup to oust the caretaker government on May 22, the military junta has then imposed censorship on the media, blocking access to foreign television networks, restricting what Thai networks can broadcast and blocking hundreds of internet websites. (Source: The Bangkok Post)NOTE: Later on the day it appeared that Facebook had only been down temporarily.


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Farmers are being paid (at last)

Posted by hasekamp on 27 May 2014 at 12:58 PM
Indebted farmers celebrated on Monday as long-overdue payments began for pledged rice crops, with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) saying 90 billion baht would be paid out in the next month. BAAC president Luck Wajananawat said the payments stemmed from the National Council for Peace and Order's decision to immediately approve payments to increasingly in debt rice growers who have waited many months for payments for grain pledged to the former government's policy rice scheme without any income. Several of them are reported to have committed suicide. The BAAC president said on Monday that the government owed over 800,000 farmers more than 90 billion baht and he thought that payments could be cleared within the next month. Following the order from the NCPO, the BAAC had advanced 40 billion baht to start payments right away and the Ministry of Finance would borrow 92.431 billion baht to pay off all the outstanding debt, Mr Luck said. Payments are being made in order of the number of the ticket farmers received when they pledged their rice. As of May 23, 2014, 1.67 million farmers participated in the rice-pledging scheme. They pledged 11.64 million tonnes of paddy for 192.95 billion baht. The BAAC paid 103 billion baht to 833,182 farmers who had pledged 6.29 million tonnes of paddy. The Ministry of Commerce contributed 75 billion baht to the payment consisting of its own budget and proceeds from its rice sales. A farmer aid fund contributed 10.5 billion baht and the government spent 20 billion baht from its contingency budget to the past payment. Farmers happily showed up at their local BAAC branches on Monday, waiting for their money. Payments started right away in some provinces and were to begin on Tuesday in others. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Suthep charged at last

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2014 at 22:54 PM
Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), was indicted in the Criminal Court on charges of murder and attempted murders for allegedly ordering the military crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010, causing 98 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had earlier been indicted on the same charges. Mr Suthep was escorted by soldiers to report to the prosecution to hear the charges after being released on Monday morning by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). He denied the charges. He was later formally indicted in the Criminal Court. His lawyer applied for his release on bail, submitting a bank deposit passbook of 600,000 baht as surety. The court approved the bail request. Mr Suthep is required to report to the court for the first hearing on July 28. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Prayuth speaks

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2014 at 12:59 PM
Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), on Monday promised to alleviate the people's hardships, with rice farmers high on the list, and then return the country to democracy, but would neither confirm nor deny if he would be interim prime minister. He was speaking after attending a ceremony to receive the royal command officially appointing him the head of the coup junta's NCPO at army headquarters in Bangkok on Monday morning. Gen Prayuth stressed his belief that the NCPO had to take control of national administration to solve national problems. He said Thailand had faced serious problems for nine years and the people had suffered from the political situation and the violence over the past six months. "It is time to return happiness and build national stability in all areas," Gen Prayuth said. He denied his council took control out of a desire for power. He said the conflicts wracking the nation had to be resolved and those who used war weapons with ill intentions had to be stopped. So, for the time being, his council had to take necessary and decisive legal measures. Gen Prayuth, who staged the coup d'etat on May 22, promised that his council would exercise its power with righteousness and fairness, and said all people should allow the time to do its work. He said the normal democratic processes could not solve the present national problems. His council was acting with sincerity to solve national problems. The priorities of the NCPO included the alleviation of great hardships afflicting the people, including the troubles of rice growers who had waited so long for money for grain they sold to the government, Gen Prayuth said. The government would have to continue selling pledged rice and needed solutions to stop the rice-pledging scheme adding a further burden to the nation, he said. He said the NPCO would have experts as its advisers to work out national solutions. Gen Prayuth said he would try to satisfy all people, and would introduce true democracy to the nation. He said that there would be an interim government. He neither confirmed nor denied the possibility he would be the new interim prime minister when the question was asked by a reporter. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Military courts

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2014 at 17:40 PM
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) decided on Sunday to use a martial court to prosecute offenders in another move to reinforce its control over the political situation as more protests against the coup took place in Bangkok. The NCPO announcement pinpointed those subject to the martial court. They are people committing crimes, facing lese majeste charges, creating security threats and defying its orders. The coup allows judicial courts to function but wrongdoers in the cases it mentioned will be taken to the martial court, the announcement said. Its decision is aimed at keeping the situation under firm control following army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha's coup on Thursday. It was mainly aimed at those ignoring orders, a source said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King responds to coup

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2014 at 17:23 PM
HIS MAJESTY THE KING has acknowledged that the power seizure was carried out by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the junta said in a statement Saturday. In the statement, signed by Army chief and NCPO head General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the junta said it had twice in writing on Tuesday and Thursday detailed the Armed Forces' movements to the Office of His Majesty's Private Secretary. The Office responded in writing Saturday that His Majesty was aware of the developments. (Source: The Nation)Foreign media report that the King has recognized the coup and that there will be a ceremony on Monday in which the junta will receive the Royal endorsement.


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100 more arrests expected

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2014 at 12:43 PM
About 100 people demonstrated in front of Major Ratchayothin shopping mall against the coup. They gathered at 11 am and many held a banner, saying "Take the coup back to barracks, and return the people's power". The demonstrators also booed at troops deployed to keep security. While they were protesting against coup, a woman walked through them to express moral support to the troops, leading to a brief confrontation. The woman was later escorted away by police. The demonstrators later dispersed after the commander of the troops there announced that they would be arrested for violating the martial law if they did not stop. The demonstrators vowed to return to hold more rallies in front of the shopping mall. (Source: The Nation)This demonstration, and especially a follow-up, is not heroic, but stupid.


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The first clear travel alert

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2014 at 12:36 PM
The U.S. Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to ongoing political and social unrest and restrictions on internal movements, including an indefinite nighttime curfew throughout Thailand.?The Department of State has advised official U.S. government travelers to defer all non-essential travel to Thailand until further notice.? This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on May 16, 2014, and will expire on August 21, 2014. (.)Although many protest activities have been peaceful, violent incidents involving guns and explosive devices have occurred at or near protest sites.? Some have resulted in injury or death. U.S. citizens are cautioned that even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.? You should avoid protest sites, demonstrations, and large gatherings.? Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news media reports.? You should allow extra time when travelling throughout the city or to/from airports.? Consider using public transportation. (Source: US Department of State)


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Prahyuth sent letter to King

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2014 at 20:38 PM
Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has already informed His Majesty the King about the seizure of the ruling power, the coup leader told a meeting on Friday. A letter has been sent to Office of His Majesty Principal Private Secretary so there is no longer the need to seek audience with His Majesty, he reportedly said. This would eliminate the fear that the palace would be dragged into the conflict, he said. In past coups, shortly after the coup makers successfully staged the putsches, they customarily sought an audience with the King in televised broadcasts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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World shows concern

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2014 at 10:59 AM
Many countries, and the UN, have shown their disapproval of the Thai Coup. Among others, in random order, Australia, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan. This list is not complete. It has been extracted from several international media.


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Army threatens to close Social Media

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2014 at 10:54 AM
The National Peace and Order Maintaining Council issued an order urging operators of social media to block spreading of false information and block the messages that incite unrest or incite opposition to peacekeeping. The NPOMC announced that if the practice continues, it would have to suspend the services and summon the inciters to face legal actions. (Source: The Nation) Is this realistic? In the past Thais have proven that they know how to use proxies.


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Curfew, some details

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2014 at 17:03 PM
The curfew imposed between 10pm and 5am will not apply to specific groups of people, the military's National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) has announced. In a televised broadcast, deputy army spokesman Winthai Suwaree said travellers who are to leave or enter the kingdom during the curfew period will be allowed to move about during the curfew. Other groups include private employees or government officials working night shifts in various sectors such as factories, hospitals, aviation businesses and logistics. Exemption also covers people in need of travelling to hospitals and humanitarian workers. People who happen to have urgent or important errands during the curfew hours are advised to ask for permission from military officers near their homes. The exception was meant to reduce the impact of the curfew, Col Winthai said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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They had their chance, now it is a coup

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2014 at 16:17 PM
Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief, has declared a coup to prevent further loss of life and prevent the conflict from further escalating.The Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC) has now seized power from the caretaker government, Gen Prayuth announced on national television. (Source: The Bangkok Post.The second session of negotiations had no result. Anyway, a fellow like this Suthep would never give in on any front. Now the army will clear the way.


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Meeting today

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2014 at 9:14 AM
The military's Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC), headed by army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, invited senior leaders of the different sides of the political divide to a meeting on Wednesday afternoon, reports said. The meeting was due to begin at 1.30pm at the Army Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Bangkok, the reports said. Those invited to the meeting included pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) chairman Jatuporn Prompan, anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, Pheu Thai Party leader Jarupong Ruangsuwan, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, Election Commission (EC) chairman Supachai Somcharoen and acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai. Early Tuesday, the Royal Thai Army declared martial law across the country to "prevent bloodshed" and to use the law as a lever to get all sides in the politcal conflict to negotiate and break the months-long deadlock. (Source: The Bangkok Post)Please note that the military now control the media, so that impartiality of messages from Thai media is not guaranteed.


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Tourism drops

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2014 at 13:14 PM
As the United States and Hong Kong governments tell their people to be cautious while travelling to the nation, Thailand faces the largest visitors drop since 2009. Foreigners arriving in Thailand already dropped 4.9% in the first four months of 2014 from a year earlier to 8.62 million, according to the Department of Tourism. With tourism accounting for as much as 10% of gross domestic product, keeping hotels and shopping malls open and busy is key for Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, famous for its ancient Buddhist temples and pristine beaches. Over the last decade, Thailand's travel industry had been bruised as a siege of the Suvarnabhumi airport by protesters and political violence in capital Bangkok prompted airlines to stop services. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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What the leading blog says

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2014 at 9:45 AM
Bangkok Pundit writes:Thailand's army declared martial law before dawn Tuesday in a surprise announcement it said was aimed at keeping the country stable after six months of sometimes violent political unrest. The military, however, denied a coup d'etat was underway. The move effectively places the army in charge of public security nationwide. It comes one day after the Southeast Asian country's caretaker prime minister refused to step down and follows six months of anti-government demonstrations that have failed to oust the government. Armed troops entered multiple private television stations in Bangkok to broadcast their message and surrounded the national police headquarters in the city center. Army jeeps mounted with a machine-guns diverted traffic on a major road in front of Central World, one of the country's most luxurious shopping malls. But the vast metropolis of 10 million people appeared calm, and commuters could be seen driving and walking to work as usual. An army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, told The Associated Press "this is definitely not a coup. This is only to provide safety to the people and the people can still carry on their lives as normal." A ticker on Chanel 5, an army station, also denied the military was taking over and asked the public not to panic.


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US are sceptical

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2014 at 9:29 AM
The United States called on the Thai military that invokes martial law to respect democratic principles Tuesday. We expect the army to honour its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence, and to not undermine democratic institutions," said US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha declared martial law early Tuesday in a bid to stem violence in the country, which has been wracked for the past six months by anti-government protests. "This development underscores the need for elections to determine the will of the Thai people," said the State Department. The US is concerned about the political crisis in Thailand and urges "all parties to respect democratic principles, including respect for freedom of speech," Psaki said. "We understand the Royal Thai Army announced that this martial law declaration is not a coup. We expect the Army to honor its commitment to make this a temporary action to prevent violence, and to not undermine democratic institutions," Psaki said. "The United States firmly believes all parties must work together to resolve differences through dialogue and find a way forward. This development underscores the need for elections to determine the will of the Thai people," she added. (Source: The Nation)


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What the military say

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2014 at 9:24 AM
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha finally decided to go for military intervention in the political crisis following more than six months of standoff between the caretaker government and the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).The move came as no surprise. Gen Prayuth indicated last Thursday that the amy might not stay idle in his strongly worded statement last Thursday after the fatal shooting and M79 grande attacks at the Democracy Monument killed three people and injured 22 others. But the last straw for the army commander was the announcement by the PDRC to launch yet another ''final battle'' this coming weekend to culminate in the "decisive battle" next Monday. That was used to motivate the rival red shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), which called a major rally to duel its rivals.The country is moving towards a possible bloody clash between the two camps, leaving no choice for the army commander but to try to prevent it. As a general, he had only two choices: a military coup and martial law. He picked the softer option and did as he had promised in last week's statement, that the army never wanted a coup because it would meaning tearing down the 2007 constitution. Now, the army has declared it is in full control and abolished the government's Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) as of 3am Thailand time Tuesday. But in effect, the caretaker government still functions, with the army in the driver's seat now. Army intervention could end potential clashes between the PDRC and UDD. But Gen Prayuth has more to do than that. (Source:The Bangkok Post)


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MARTIAL LAW

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2014 at 9:18 AM
Thailand's army on Tuesday declared martial law across the crisis-gripped kingdom to restore order following months of anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead and hundreds wounded. An announcement on military-run television said martial law had been invoked "to restore peace and order for people from all sides", stressing that the move "is not a coup". "The public do not need to panic but can still live their lives as normal," it added. (Source: The Bangkok Post)We suppose that the army knows what to do first!


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On and on

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2014 at 17:57 PM
Protesters of the People's Democratic Reform Committee called on the Royal Irrigation Department in Sam Sen area on Monday, hoping to meet Chartthaipattana chief adviser Banharn Silpa-archa and two ministers of the party to ask them to quit the Pheu Thai-led coalition, but failed to see them, reports said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)We have seen 11 "last battles" already. Will these people ever stop?


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Acting PM not prepared to resign

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2014 at 17:53 PM
Acting caretaker Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan asserted today that he will not resign but is ready to cooperate with the Senate to find the way out of the political crisis under the Constitution, according to appointed Senator Wanchai Sornsiri. Mr Wanchai, a member of the acting Senate speaker's coordinating committee, said the caretaker government led by Mr Niwatthamrong and caretaker Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri met the Senate led by Uttaradit Senator Peerasak Porchit, the second Senate Deputy Speaker-elect and appointed-Senator Dejudom Krairit on options to lead the country out of political deadlock. Surachai Liengboonlertchai, Senate speaker-elect, was to meet Mr Niwatthamrong but he felt sick this morning. Mr Wanchai said that Mr Niwatthamrong has rejected resignation in concern that it could be illegal but that he will continue to work with the caretaker government. Mr Niwatthamrong asserted that the caretaker government is ready to cooperate with the Senate in an attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution, but the move must be carried out under the Constitution, according to Senator Wanchai. The Senate continues to seek a solution under the Constitution and expects to have an answer for the public within this week. (MCOT online news)


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And another "last battle"

Posted by hasekamp on 18 May 2014 at 22:25 PM
Suthep promises to surrender, disperse if call for 'biggest rally' fails to oust govt. The six-month-long anti-government rally will end on Tuesday week - with either success or failure in the bid to topple the caretaker government and "uproot the Thaksin regime", Suthep Thaugsuban announced yesterday. "If we have not won by May 27, I will surrender to authorities, and everyone can go home," said Suthep, who heads the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Suthep called a meeting of PDRC leaders from across the country at Government House yesterday to draw up a plan for its final offensive next weekend - May 23-25 - to force the resignation of the caretaker Cabinet and the appointment of a new prime minister. If he is disappointed by the turnout of supporters, he will call it quits. (Source: The Nation)


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And another attempt

Posted by hasekamp on 18 May 2014 at 22:20 PM
The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) will set up teams to pursue acting caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and other caretaker ministers and ask them to resign, according to a message posted by PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban on his Facebook page on Sunday. He said in the message that this would be part of the PDRC's operations to be carried out from tomorrow to retake the people's sovereign power. The first mission was for PDRC teams to pursue Mr Niwattumrong and other caretaker ministers with a resignation letter for them to sign. Mr Suthep said that since the country now did not have a government with full authority it was necessary for the people to retake their sovereign power. But this would be done through peaceful means, not by power seizure. After that the sovereign power would be exercised for the country to undergo reforms and attain absolute democracy, he added. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Hua His does not want Suthep

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2014 at 13:33 PM
Protest monk Luang Pu Buddha Isara has reportedly postponed a plan to stage an anti-government rally in Hua Hin, where His Majesty the King resides, in the face of local opposition. Local administrators and many residents had been demanding that the monk abandon a plan to stage a gathering in front of Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin on Sunday. Heads of villages and people's representatives met at the Hua Hin district office on Friday to express their opposition to the monk's plans. Buddha Isara had intended to hold a rally with some 6,000 demonstrators in front of the palace to petition for His Majesty the King's appointment of an interim prime minister. The monk is a co-leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) which has been demanding the resignation of the caretaker government and national reform before the next election. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Suthep disturbs government meeting

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2014 at 10:41 AM
- The meeting of the Election Commission (EC) and the caretaker cabinet was forced to abort this morning as anti-government PDRC protesters arrived at their meeting place at the Royal Thai Air Force Academy at Don Mueang. Five EC commissioners led by agency chairman Supachai Somcharoen and the caretaker cabinet led by acting Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan met at the Kantarat Convention Hall at 10am but after only 45 minutes the meeting came to a stop after protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban led People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters to the meeting venue. The agenda of the meeting was expected to cover the legal procedures related to the new general election. The caretaker government proposed to abort the meeting after the arrival of Suthep and PDRC and the caretaker ministers promptly departed the Convention Hall. (Source: MCOT English News)


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Attack on PDRC

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2014 at 10:34 AM
Two people were killed and 21 were wounded in an attack early Thursday on an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok, medical officials and police said. "Two people were killed and 21 were wounded," the city's Erawan Emergency Centre said on its website, in a toll later confirmed by police. The violence took the death toll during the six-month PDRC campaign to 27. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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S&P rating in danger

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2014 at 12:31 PM
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services may lower Thailand's sovereign ratings if further political instability leads to an unexpectedly sharp deterioration of political and institutional stability beyond what was seen in recent years. "This is possible if future political events lead to widespread violence that seriously affects economic activities in the country for a prolonged period," the rating agency said in a note on May 8, following the Constitutional Court's decision to oust caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the charge of "abuse of power". In the note, S&P noted that the dismissal is negative to Thailand's credit ratings, but the impacts are not immediate. Thailand's foreign currency rating is now "BBB+". (Source: The Nation)


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US are worried

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2014 at 12:26 PM
The United States voiced confidence Tuesday that Thailand's military will not stage another coup as worries mount in Washington of prolonged turmoil in its oldest Asian ally. Amy Searight, deputy assistant secretary of defence for South and Southeast Asia, said the United States was "reasonably confident" that the Thai armed forces "will continue to be restrained and professional in all of this." "At this point we don't have any reason to expect that the Thai military will change their current stance," she told a conference in Washington. Searight said that the Thai military appeared to have learned lessons from 2006, when it overthrew tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister and the United States briefly imposed sanctions. Thailand's judiciary last week removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra -- Thaksin's sister -- in the latest twist in the deeply polarized nation's eight years of turmoil that has involved crippling street protests and occasional bloodshed. Scot Marciel, the top State Department official on Southeast Asia, said that Washington was not offering a "US prescription" to resolve the crisis beyond urging a peaceful solution. "It's important that it be done constitutionally and democratically and, of course, peacefully," Marciel said. Behind the chaos, many observers believe that Thailand is undergoing a struggle on who will lead the country after the six-decade reign of 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The world's longest-serving monarch is widely revered as a father figure but has been ill for several years. Ernie Bower, the Southeast Asia chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies which held the conference, said that Thailand is undergoing "an existential 100-year power struggle." "No matter what hopeful signs we're seeing, no matter which prime minister gets ousted in the near term, this struggle is not over until his succession takes place. We don't and should not expect resolution or stability in Thailand until that takes place," Bower said. Bower added that the United States should remain steadfast in advocating democracy and human rights even if it faces short-term worries of losing ground to regional power China, which pleased the Thai military by swiftly accepting the 2006 coup. "I think in the long run if we stick with those principles, we will find ourselves on the right side of history in Thailand, with the Thai people," Bower said. The crisis comes as US President Barack Obama pursues a "pivot" strategy of putting a greater focus on Asia in the face of concerns by several nations over China's rise. Thailand was the first Asian ally of the United States, with the kingdom -- then known as Siam -- signing a friendship treaty with Washington in 1833 and famously offering elephants to president Abraham Lincoln to fight the Civil War. (Source: The Nation)


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Senate meeting

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2014 at 11:51 AM
A meeting of the Senate and representatives of the private sector and organisations set up under the Constitution began at 1.30pm on Wednesday in a closed session. Senate speaker-elect Surachai Liangboonlertchai earlier invited the organisations and the private sector to brainstorm solutions to break the politicail impasse. The organisations that did not send representatives to attend the meeting were the Constitutional Court and the Attorney General's Office. Sixty-nine senators signed up to attend the meeting. Most of them were the "40 Senators" group comprising mainly of appointed senators. Conspicuous in his absence was appointed senator Paibul Nititawan, who told Thai Rath earlier that he believed the only way out of the crisis was to find a new prime minister so there was no point in finding other solutions. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin not interested in Suthep

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2014 at 11:47 AM
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is not interested in negotiating with anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, the fugitive politician's legal adviser in Thailand, Noppadon Pattama, said on Wednesday. Mr Noppadon said Mr Suthep, secretary-general of the protesting People's Democratic Reform Committee, was wrong in saying that Thaksin was in Singapore and waiting start negotiations, but that he did not want a talk with Thaksin. Mr Noppadon said Thaksin was in Singapore to meet friends and was not waiting for Mr Suthep. His boss knew well who he should talk to, and Mr Suthep was not on the list. Mr Noppadon said he sympathised with Mr Suthep for having led his protest for six months to no avail. He also said Thaksin had done nothing to hurt Mr Suthep, except repeatedly defeating Mr Suthep's (Democrat) party. Mr Noppadon said he did not believe the Senate would bow to Mr Suthep's demand that it nominate an interim prime minister by virtue of Section 7 of the constitution. He said only a general election could result in the selection of a prime minister. Mr Suthep's proposal was unconstitutional and would face considerable obstacles. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Suthep enters Senate

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2014 at 13:21 PM
The acting Senate speaker's permission for People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban to enter parliament premises and hold a closed-door discussion with him has sparked outrage from the red shirts and pro-government elements. The Senate was holding an informal Monday session to discuss the political impasse. As the session was in progress, Mr Suthep led demonstrators to parliament and conveyed a note to deputy Senate speaker and acting Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai, who was chairing the meeting, to ask Sen Surachai to allow him to speak. The anti-government Group of 40 senators voiced support for Mr Suthep to speak at the session, but other senators disagreed. However, Sen Surachai, who chaired the session, allowed Mr Suthep to enter the parliament premises. Sen Surachai agreed to meet for talks with Mr Suthep and other PDRC co-leaders in a reception room behind closed doors.United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) chairman Jatuporn Prompan lambasted Sen Surachai for meeting for talks with Mr Suthep on parliament premises. Mr Jatuporn said Sen Surachai could break the law if he bowed to Mr Suthep's demands. He said the pair must be held responsible and charged with instigating insurrection, adding that there would be no political power vacuum as the PDRC hoped. The majority of the informal Senate session supported a proposal for an interim prime minister to be installed under Section 7 of the constitution. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Army: interim government not appropriate

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2014 at 23:32 PM
Military leaders are against an attempt by anti-government protesters to press for an interim government, a military source said on Sunday. All armed forces commanders discussed the plan pushed by People's Democratic Reform Committee leader Suthep Thaugsuban and a group calling itself Rattha Bukkhon (State Citizens) to seek the setting up of an interim government through Section 7 of the constitution on Saturday. They said the option was not appropriate as it could disturb His Majesty, who, they said, is the King for all Thais, according to the source. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Still nothing gained

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2014 at 23:26 PM
The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) will leave Lumpini Park after leader Suthep Thaugsuban's last speech on Sunday night as anti-government protesters shift their strategy in fighting to oust the caretaker government. The PDRC has called for the presidents of the Constitutional, Supreme and Supreme Administrative courts, the Election Commission chairman and the Senate speaker to work out on a plan to set up an interim government. But United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Jatuporn Prompan on Sunday rediculed the demand. "The proposal of Mr Suthep is impossible because it will be opposed by the people," he said. The UDD did not rule out a possible move closer to inner Bangkok from its rally site on Utthayan Road on the western outskirts of Bangkok. The situation will dictate the decision, Mr Jatuporn said, confirming the pro-government movement's rally will not end until the political crisis is resolved and ''democracy is secured''. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2014 at 23:20 PM
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn on Friday presided over the royal Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang on behalf of His Majesty the King. In this annual ceremony, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture serves as the Lord of the Ploughing ceremony or Phraya Raekna. This year, he chose a six-kueb-long cloth, a length that predicts that water levels will be low, rice crops in lowland areas will be bountiful while highland rice crops will sustain some damage. The sacred oxen were given grass, rice, corn, beans, sesame, liquor and water from which to choose and this year, they drank water and ate grass, indicating that there will be enough water while rice, food and fruits will be abundant. The ceremony is held annually in May to mark the beginning of the rainy season and riceplanting season. After the ceremony ended, the crowds scrambled for the seeds sown by the Ploughing Lord, as these are said to bring their owners wealth and good luck. The farmers will mix the seeds with their own rice to ensure a good crop in the coming year. (Source: The Nation)


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Is there no police?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2014 at 23:16 PM
The Pheu Thai Party on Friday asked armed forces leaders to arrest PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban for blatant breaches of the law, alleging he was a threat to national security. Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the top brass should order troops to seize the People's Democratic Reform Committee secretary-general. who had intentionally ignored and broken the law despite being already indicted on eight charges, including insurrection and illegal assembly, by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Thursday. Mr Suthep is a threat to national security threats, he said. Pheu Thai lawyers were compiling a case against him. Acting caretaker Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan was tight-lipped on Friday, only saying that he hoped the situation would return to normal. ''I hope that everything will be okay,'' he told reporters. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Does anybody still listen?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2014 at 23:12 PM
The president of the Supreme Court and the senate speaker due to be selected today must set up an "interim people's government and legislative assembly" within the next few days, Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), demanded on Friday. Mr Suthep said from the protest stage outside Government House around midday on Friday that the president of the Supreme Court and the senate speaker now represent the remaining pillars of power in Thailand. They should act to form an interim government within a few days. He said the PDRC would wait for these senior national figures to act. If they do not respond, the PDRC would do the job itself. He did not elaborate. (Source:The Bangkok Post)


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Yet another final rally

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2014 at 22:14 PM
The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader has changed the date of the "final all-out battle" against the government and the so-called Thaksin regime from May 14 to May 9. <em><strong>(NOTE: Suthep has announced at least 10 other "final" actions before, but he never keeps his word. It would be a blessing for the country if this really would be his " final" rally).</strong></em> Mr Suthep announced the change on Wednesday night after the Constitutional Court removed caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of her ministers from office for the unlawful removal of Thawil Pliensri as secretary-general of the National Security Council. Mr Suthep told supporters at Lumpini Park, the main PDRC rally site, that the new date for the planned mass rally was necessary because the political situation had changed. He invited all groups of people including members of the red-shirt movement to gather at Lumpini Park on Friday, May 9 at 9.09am. On that day, Mr Suthep said, the PDRC will expand the rally area from Ratchadamri to Pathumwan intersection through to the front of Chulalongkorn University. If there are too many people, the rally area will cover Henri Dunant Road as well, he added. "We will join forces at Lumpini Park, and march to Ratchaprasong, Pathumwan and in this perimeter, preparing to mobilise and carry out an important mission," Mr Suthep said. He remained tight-lipped about what the PDRC plans to do on the day. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government websites massively infected

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2014 at 12:22 PM
BE AWARE: Nearly 100 Thai government websites were hacked and used to serve malware in April, according to an online security expert. More than 500 distinct attacks were launched from these websites, representing about 85% of all government-hosted malware in the world, Paul Mutton posted on the website of Netcraft Ltd, an internet services company based in Bath, England, on Tuesday. Seven of the hacked sites belong to Thai police forces, such as the Narathiwat Provincial Police website at narathiwat.police.go.th, where hackers have appended a large chunk of malicious script to the page, wrote Mr Mutton. Thai military websites were also compromised during April. For example, the Thai Navy website at www.navy.mi.th was involved in a phishing attack which targeted Visa cardholders in late April. A page surreptitiously planted on the Navy's server was used to redirect victims to a different website hosted in Malaysia, which attempted to steal card details. The Malaysian website has since been taken down, but the redirection page on the Thai Navy website is still present today. All of the hacked Thai government websites use the .go.th second-level domain, which is eligible to be registered only by government entities in Thailand. The .th top-level domain is administered by T.H.NIC Co Ltd (THNIC), which provides its domain registration services under a policy managed by the Thai Network Information Center Foundation, and allows domain names to be purchased through THNIC authorised resellers.th is also the fourth phishiest top-level domain. Netcraft currently blocks 310 phishing sites under this domain, which is rather significant given that there are fewer than 100,000 .th sites in total. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More details

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2014 at 9:29 AM
The Constitutional Court on Wednesday dismissed caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office, ruling that she abused her power by transferring National Security Council Thawil Pliensri. The nine Cabinet members involved in the unlawful transfer of Thawil were stripped of their positions. "The Prime Minister's status has ended, Yingluck can no longer stay in her position acting as caretaker prime minister," a judge said in a live televised ruling. The remainder of the cabinet can continue working, the judge said. The judge said Yingluck violated the charter on the transfer of Thawil from position of National Security Council. The transfer of Thawil Pliensri from the post of National Security Council chief was unlawful, unconstitutional and unethical. Yingluck Shinawatra had a hidden agenda in ordering the transfer and also intended to benefit a relative. The court thus ruled that the transfer was prohibited by the law as it was unethical and a conflict of interest. The Court ruled that only Yingluck and nine other Cabinet members who took part in Thawil's transfer must be removed from the Cabinet. The others, who were not members of the Yingluck Cabinet that approved Thawil's transfer, can remain in office as caretaker Cabinet members. The court also ruled that the caretaker Cabinet can continue its duties until the new Cabinet takes office. The Constitutional Court ruled that it has no mandate to order the appointment of a new prime minister within seven days as requested by the complainant. The request to the court to order the appointment of a new was made by Senator Paibul Nititawan during the trial on Tuesday. Paibul filed the abuse of power suit against Yingluck. (Source: The Nation)


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BREAKING NEWS: Yingluck has to go

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2014 at 9:19 AM
The Constitutional Court has ruled Yingluck Shinawatra's prime minister status ends because the transfer of Thawil Pliensri was illegitimate (one of the points that was considered "corrupt"). The Court cited she no longer qualified under Sections 266-268 of the Constitution. (Source: The Bangkok Post)More to follow later today.


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Foreign analysis of the situation in Thaiand

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2014 at 9:13 AM
My (Dutch) newspaper ("Trouw") gives a good analysis of the situation today: Today the Constitutional Court will give its verdict if Yingluck is guilty of corruption. The "old powers" (the Bangkok upper middle class, the judicial power, the army and powers around the palace) hope that Yingluck and her party (with her brother Thaksin on the background) are being sent away by the Court. Thaksin, the first PM of a "new power", who was sent away by the army in 2006, won the support of the farmers in the North and Northeast and so created a more democratic situation in Thailand. Formerly the interests of the farmers were neglected by the "old powers", including the Democratic Party. The Democratic party should not be considered a real democratic party, but as the party of the "old powers". If the Court sends Yingluck away tday (which would create a situation, the Constitution does not provide for, because the government is already care-taking), this will likely not be accepted by the "new powers" and a serious threat for civil war will arise.I hope this analysis from abroad helps my readers to understand the situation better.Webmaster.


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Ivory thieves

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2014 at 8:54 AM
Ivory thieves broke into the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation in Prachuap Khiri Khan province and cut both tusks off an elderly male elephant on Sunday night, and a sacked mahout is one of the suspects. The foundation manager, Piyawut Phetchumpol, said Phlai Boonmee, the male elephant, was recovering from the shock of having his ivory snatched and was being given vitamins hidden inside bananas and pineapples. Villagers told police believe at least three men arrived on the night of May 4 in a four-door black pickup truck and broke into the foundtion grounds in Hua Hin. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Suthep goes on and on

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2014 at 8:50 AM
Anti-government protesters of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) gathered at Sanam Luang ground today after marching from their protest site in Lumpini Park in the afternoon. At about 2.30pm, PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban led his supporters donning yellow shirts in marching along Rama IV Road, passing Hua Lamphong railway station, Yaowarat, and the defence ministry to Sanam Luang ground. Today's rally was intended to express loyalty and offer blessings to His Majesty the King on the auspicious occasion of Coronation Day. Additionally, the PDRC plans to lead its followers to make a pledge before the picture of the monarch to stage a political stance peacefully with the intention of making positive changes to the country and bringing in full democracy. The anti-government group plans to hold a merit-making ceremony on Visakha Puja Day, which falls on May 13, before kicking off the last battle against the caretaker government on May 14. (MCOT online news)Who will stop this man at last?


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Earthquake in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2014 at 8:40 AM
People in Chiang Rai's Phan district ran out of their homes and buildings in panic as ground in the far North shook during a 6.1-magnitude earthquake yesterday. The quake was so strong it could be felt in Bangkok high rises, such as Baiyoke Tower and Central World Mall. But no fatalities had been reported by press time. It was believed to be the biggest quake recorded with an epicentre in Thailand. The National Disaster Warning Centre urged people in the affected area to stay in safe places, as more aftershocks were expected. People have also been advised to follow the centre's updates closely. At press time, at least five aftershocks - each between 3 and 4 in magnitude - were recorded, Burin Wechbunthung, chief of the Meteorological Department's Seismological Bureau, said. A road in Phan district cracked when the quake took place at about 6pm yesterday evening, and a hotel in Chiang Rung district suffered damage to its exterior. Shoppers were seen running out of the Central Plaza Mall in Muang district as things began falling off the shelves, while ceiling tiles at Chiang Rai Airport began dropping during the quake. (Source: The Nation)


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How original of Abhisit!

Posted by hasekamp on 4 May 2014 at 10:24 AM
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, unveiling his plan to bring the country out of the political impasse, yesterday asked Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet to resign before a Constitutional Court ruling. The first of the 10 steps proposed in his plan is that the election tentatively set for July 20 must be delayed. "All Yingluck has to answer is whether she can step back from power for five to six months," Abhisit said, referring to the time before the next election would take place. (Source: The Nation)


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Will the story repeat?

Posted by hasekamp on 4 May 2014 at 10:21 AM
The Democrat Party will not contest the next election if a reconciliation proposal to be unveiled by its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva today is rejected by the parties involved in the ongoing political conflict, according to the party's spokesman. Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday that with the political conflict remaining unsolved and the country still in a state of deadlock, there was no point in the Democrats taking part in the election. "We will still be in the same spot, and we can't move forward because the conflict still exists. There will be disorder. The Pheu Thai Party will bring about a bloody election. For what will the Democrat Party have taken part?" he said. (Source: The Nation)


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New election date

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2014 at 22:24 PM
The election committee and the government have agreed to hold new elections on July 20. However, the EC would have to amend its regulations to prevent the new election from being nullified, the commission's secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said. He added that the EC would meet next Tuesday to draft the Royal Decree for the election, which would be sent to the government for seeking royal endorsement. The Constitutional Court earlier ruled the February 2 election unconstitutional because voting could not take place in 28 of 375 constituencies on the same day. EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen, who met with caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday, said the meeting went smoothly. He said the government agreed to all the proposals of the EC, which included that the election must be held only in a peaceful environment, and the EC might postpone polling in problematic areas. "There must be no injury or loss in the new election," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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