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Their Majesties back in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2015 at 10:55 AM
Their Majesties the King and the Queen have returned to Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok from Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin, Post Today Online reported. The motorcades of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen arrived on Sunday at Siriraj Hospital at about noon and 12.30pm respectively. They were greeted on arrival by a large number of people who knew about their return to the hospital. Their Majesties left Siriraj Hospital for Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin on May 9 for a retreat. (Source:The Bangkok Post)


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PAD leaders jailed

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2015 at 15:15 PM
SIX LEADERS of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) were yesterday sentenced to two years in jail after they were found guilty at the Criminal Court for their roles in Government House raids in 2008.Maj-General Chamlong Srimu-ang, 80; Sondhi Limthongkul, 67; Pipop Thongchai, 69; Somkiat Pongpaiboon, 65; Somsak Kosai-suk, 69; and Suriyasai Katasila, 42; were accused by prosecutors of violating Articles 83, 91, 358, 362 and 365 of the Criminal Code for damaging state assets. The complaint said the PAD led a rally from Democracy Monument to Government House to oust then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej. They laid siege to state agencies including the National Broadcast-ing Services of Thailand (NBT), the Finance Ministry's radio station and Agriculture Ministry, it said. When Samak stepped down as PM after the Constitutional Court disqualified him, Somchai Wongsawat replaced him and was planning to deliver his policy speech before Parliament on October 7, 2008. The six men led mass rallies starting from August 26 until December 3, 2008, blocking all entrances at Parliament and destroying blockades put up by security officials. (Source: The Nation)


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British girl raped in kanchanaburi

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2015 at 15:11 PM
A 19-year-old British tourist says she was kidnapped and gang raped in western Thailand, according to local media. The (British) Foreign Office has confirmed that "an incident involving a British national" took place on Tuesday. It is believed the woman was snatched by a gang of men on motorbikes while out walking alone. It is claimed two men have been arrested and have "confessed to rape". The woman is believed to have been staying at a popular resort in Kanchanaburi district, which is about 120km west of Bangkok. She was at a restaurant with friends on the Nanachart Road on Monday night, but later walked to a shop at about 1.30am. It is reported that she told police she was grabbed by a gang of men on bikes, who then stole her valuables and raped her before leaving her at a local market. According to local media, the police identified two of the men using CCTV footage, and arrested them before they confessed to kidnap and rape. The teenager is understood to have returned to the UK. (Source: BBC News; The Thai media report very limited on this subject)


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Thaksin's passports revoked

Posted by hasekamp on 27 May 2015 at 14:50 PM
The Foreign Ministry has revoked former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's two passports after reaching the conclusions that his recent interview has affected the security and the country's reputation. An investigation is underway and criminal charges could be pressed against the self-exiled Thaksin. The revocation of U957441 and Z530117 passports became effective on Tuesday and was announced on the Foreign Ministry's website on Wednesday. (Source: The Nation)


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Elections in September 2016?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 May 2015 at 14:46 PM
New elections will be staged by September next year if the draft constitution wins approval via referendum, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Wednesday. The prime minister used his meeting at Government House with 12 envoys from the United Nations headquarters in New York to confirm his intention to restore democracy following the May 2014 military coup. A new poll will be delayed due to the constitutional referendum, but will take place no later than September 2016, deputy government spokesman Weerachon Sukhontapatipak quoted Gen Prayut as saying. The government will not interfere in the election, he said, adding that Gen Prayut he had no intention to staying longer in power. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam expected the referendum to be put to voters around January after the final draft of the charter is endorsed by the National Reform Council on Aug 6. But he said on May 19 that general elections were possible in August 2016, a month earlier that the prime minister's estimate. The new constitution has been criticised by the government, the National Council for Peace and Order, political parties, activists and academics. One controversial issue is a provision allowing an outsider to become prime minister if politics become deadlocked. All comments have been sent to the Constitution Drafting Committee, which will decide whether to amend the current draft. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Cabinet wants 100 changes in charter

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2015 at 22:30 PM
THE CABINET yesterday proposed about 100 revisions to the draft constitution and suggested that the new charter should help promote national reform, prevent political conflict and improve justice in politics. The proposed drastic changes included reduced power for unelected senators, dropping recognition of political groups and deleting the clauses on the establishment of political ethics bodies. But the Cabinet left intact the clause that allows a non-MP to become prime minister and the clause on open-list and mixed-member proportional-representation voting. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the Cabinet submitted its proposals to the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) yesterday. Of the some 100 revisions suggested, half involve changes to the wording of clauses, such as prepositions, while the other half involve bigger principles, according to Wissanu. The Cabinet requested the CDC place new independent organisations under an organic law or another law instead of in the constitution. The Cabinet did not ask the drafters to axe the new bodies. Wissanu said the new constitution should be able to provide answers to three principles: how to pass on the government's national reform and other important plans to the next administration; how to prevent old disputes and conflicts from repeating; and how to create better justice in politics. Yesterday's Cabinet meeting at Government House lasted three hours. Cabinet members mostly discussed their proposals on altering the charter draft. (Source: The Nation)


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Swindlers for tourists caught

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2015 at 10:40 AM
Twenty-two suspected swindlers, including tuk-tuk drivers, accused of luring foreign tourists to jewellery shops and restaurants in return for high commissions have been arrested in Bangkok as part of a police crackdown on gangs preying on holiday makers. National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang announced the arrests of the 22 members of a gang on Thursday. Police have charged them with creating a nuisance to others in public areas, colluding in swindling and parking vehicles in prohibited areas. The gang was accused of targeting tourists wanting to visit popular tourist attractions in Bangkok such as Wat Pho and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew. They used misinformation about the historic places opening hours and used persuasive tactics to get the tourists to go shopping at places that offered them commission fees, said Pol Gen Somyot. The distorted information about the operating hours of tourist venues caused a misunderstanding among tourists and the action of the swindlers tarnished the image of tourism. "Tourist police drew up a plan to arrest the swindling gang members that prey on tourists and this has led to the arrest of 22 members," the national police chief said. "The gang's activities have ruined the image of the country and the tourism industry." (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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One year Prayut

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2015 at 10:37 AM
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed satisfaction with the achievements of his year-old regime, but said he was not proud of having to take the reins of power. Speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the coup, which took place on May 22 last year, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief said he has continuously evaluated his administration's performance. The essence is to keep peace and order, solve urgent problems and tackle clogged budget disbursement, he said. "I am satisfied [with our work] if we are evaluating it," Gen Prayut said. "Yet I am not proud to be in this position. Why should I have to stand here? Why did you not solve the problems before? Weren't you elected?" he said, directing his comments at previous administrations. Problems can be tackled with concerted efforts by all parties, he said, adding that he uses a military style of administration to deal with issues. He said all ministries must speed up efforts to improve their performance so they would not be criticised later. Although the premier is satisfied with the regime's performance, particularly regarding security issues, and appears to have received public support over the past year, it is uncertain whether the regime will continue to enjoy this level of public support. Anti-military protests so far have been sparse, with most of the regime's opponents limiting their campaigns to social media outlets. Opinion polls show support for the regime has been widespread, as people are tired of the past political conflicts linked to street protests and violence, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Referendum will take 6 months

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2015 at 9:47 AM
THE NATIONAL Reform Council has proposed at least six months for the whole process of holding a referendum on the draft constitution, a council member said yesterday. NRC whip secretary Alongkorn Ponlaboot said council president Thienchay Kiranandana had submitted a proposal to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last week that a referendum be held and stated how long the whole process should take. "We think it should take at least six months, as three months might not be sufficient for the distribution of 47 million copies of the draft charter to eligible voters," Alongkorn said. The NRC also proposed that responsible organisations conduct the referendum inclusively and transparently, he said. The NRC and Constitution Drafting Committee unanimously agreed last week that a referendum should be held. Cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will hold a joint meeting today and are expected to decide if a referendum should be held on the charter draft. (Source: The Nation)


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Yingluck in court

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2015 at 9:44 AM
Embattled former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra entered pleas of not guilty to charges of dereliction of duty and abuse of authority in administering her government's controversial rice-pledging scheme when she appeared before the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. She was granted temporary release on the condition she does not leave the country without the court's permission. Ms Yingluck, accompanied by her husband Anusorn Amornchat and her lawyers, arrived at the court at 8.45am on Tuesday. She had been ordered by the court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to appear at 9.30am to hear the charges and enter her pleas. In the courtroom, a judge read out the charges against her. The former prime minister is charged with dereliction of duty and abuse of authority in failing to stop graft and losses in the rice scheme under Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/1 of the 1999 Counter Corruption Act. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Shoulsd Thailand help the Rohingya?

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2015 at 9:41 AM
It is unfair for Thailand and other Asean members to be blamed for not being willing to help the Rohingya people who are stranded on the high seas. Thailand had a bad experience when it set up refugee camps during the Vietnam War. It took several years until they could close the facilities. Countries were not willing to help as much as they pledged they would. To be fair, Thailand and Asean are waiting for commitments from the West on how to help the Rohingya people. NOTE: One can't wait until they are drowned. Maybe talks with Birma would help? (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Policy for boat refugees

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2015 at 13:47 PM
THAILAND will guide away boats with migrants on board found outside Thai waters or accept migrants after their boats enter Thai waters and repatriate them later, while sick boat people will be treated by medical personnel, the Internal Security Operations Command announced yesterday. Bodies found in Thai waters will be retrieved and identified, said Isoc spokesman Colonel Banphot Phoolphian, and migrants of all nationalities would be treated based on international humanitarian standards. The spokesman said the measures were standard operating procedure, which was being practised to cope with the trafficking and illegal migrations of Rohingya and other nationalities into Thailand. Migrant vessels found outside Thai waters will be given navigational guidance in order to prevent them getting lost and entering Thai waters, he said, adding that this procedure had been applied in the case of a large boat carrying some 300 Rohingya outside Thai waters near Koh Lipe off Satun on Thursday. (Source: The Nation)


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Yingluck ready for her defense

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2015 at 13:45 PM
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Friday that she would attend the first hearing at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division on Holders of Political Positions on Tuesday for a case in which she is accused of negligence in connection with her government's controversial rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck also said that she was ready to defend herself in her opening statement before the court. She was speaking to reporters at her sister Yaowapa Wongsawat's birthday party at the latter's home in Bangkok's Chaeng Wattana district. Yaowapa was also a key figure of the then-ruling Pheu Thai Party. (Source: The Nation)


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Good harvest predicted

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2015 at 22:18 PM
THE annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony was held in Bangkok's Sanam Luang yesterday to boost the morale of farmers and showcase the significance of the agricultural sector in the country. The ceremony was presided over by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and his eldest daughter HRH Princess Bajra Kitiyabha. Farmers from all corners of the country eagerly look forward to this event every year as it is through this that predictions of future harvests are made. This year, Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry's permanent secretary Chavalit Chookajorn served as the Lord of the Ceremony or Phraya Raekna, and chose a 4-kueb-long cloth - which signifies a bit too much water, with good yield for highland paddy fields and some crop damage for low-lying ones. The sacred oxen, meanwhile, chose to eat grass among the seven items on offer - which is seen as signifying an abundance of crops and adequate water supply. After the ceremony was completed, crowds of people began scrambling for the seeds thrown by the Ploughing Lord as these are said to bring owners wealth and good luck. Farmers usually add these "sacred" seeds to their own paddy seeds to ensure a good crop. The Rice Department also handed out 2,695 rice seeds from His Majesty's experimental paddy fields to waiting farmers.(Source: The Nation)


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Bangkok wants eathquake-proof buildings

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2015 at 22:13 PM
THE COUNCIL of Engineers warned yesterday that new buildings in Greater Bangkok had to be made earthquake-resistant.Last week saw a 4.6-magnitude undersea quake and another of similar power near Koh Yao district in Phang Nga province, but no injury or serious damage was reported. Amorn Pimanmas, deputy chief of the council, said buildings in the capital and its suburbs, which sat on a soft layer of soil, should have ferro-concrete beams to support structures. The west fault line and the Myanmar fault line could trigger an earthquake that could strike Bangkok if it were stronger than magnitude 8, he said. Kornravee Sitthichvapak, director of the Seismological Bureau, said Thailand had 14 fault lines. Bangkok is one of the at-risk areas that could face a magnitude 6 tremor. The Ranong Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office has drawn up an emergency plan to deal with severe seismic phenomena. (Source: The Nation)


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King attends ceremony

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2015 at 13:16 PM
His Majesty the King on May 5 attended a ceremony marking the Coronation Day at the Grand Palace. The King left Siriraj Hospital at 10.25am for the Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall in the Grand Palace to preside over the ceremony. The audience to mark <strong>the 65th anniversary of His Majesty's ascension to the throne</strong> was attended by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, royal family members and senior state officials. People waiting outside the place chanted ''long live the King'' when the royal motorcade passed at 11.25am. His Majesty had not shown himself in public for some time. The motorcade arrived at Siriraj Hospital at 11.37am. The King was accompanied to the hospital by HRH Princess Sirindhorn. HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn performed the religious ceremony at the Grand Palace. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Their Majesties return to Hua Hin

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2015 at 13:07 PM
Their Majesties the King and Queen will return to Klai Kangwon Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Sunday. The Royal Household Bureau announced on Saturday Their Majesties would leave Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok at 2pm to change the atmosphere and recuperate at the Hua Hin palace. People are invited to greet them along the way and the signing up to wish them well at the hospital will end on Sunday. On May 5, Udom Kachintorn, president of Mahidol University, who provides medical care to Their Majesties, said they were both in good health. His Majesty attended a ceremony marking Coronation Day at the Grand Palace on Tuesday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Film about King's music

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2015 at 13:03 PM
The short-film project "Keeta Maha Raja Niphon" puts His Majesty the King's famous songs into pictures. A few months back, to mark the 50th anniversary of His Majesty the King being honoured for his compositions with honorary membership in the esteemed Institute of Music and Arts of the City of Vienna, Austria, Singha Corporation invited four filmmakers to select songs written by His Majesty as the basis for short films. That project, "Keeta Maha Raja Niphon", has now come to fruition and the films, compiled into a 130-minute omnibus, will be shown for free from Thursday to Sunday at select Major Cineplex theatres. Veteran director Nonzee Nimibutr has chosen the song "Chata Cheewit" ("HM Blues") as the setting for his tale of a friendship that springs up between two elderly women. Pao (Wassana Chalakorn) fed up with her adult children fighting over their inheritance and decides to leave home. Her path crosses with that of Ngern (Neeranuch Patamasut), a poverty-stricken woman who is taking care of her young niece. Ngern is a talented singer though she only sings when she's alone. When her niece falls sick with kidney disease, Pao convinces Ngern to sing in public again to raise money for the treatment. (Source: The Nation)


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Hailstorm in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2015 at 12:58 PM
THERE WAS a surprise hailstorm in some parts of Bangkok yesterday, with hailstones even hitting the roof of Parliament house.Hail was also reported to have hit Rajdamnoen Avenue and Si Ayutthaya Road. Witnesses said the hailstones were as big as a Bt5 coin. Heavy rain also flooded many roads and it took the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) several hours to drain water from Rama VI Road, Nakhon Chai Si Road and Si Ayutthaya Road. Strong winds also uprooted many trees, with several in Government House falling down and hitting at least two vehicles. A red Mazda was badly damaged, with a tree crushing the roof of the vehicle and breaking its windshield at the back. Winds also pulled down tents for motorcycle parking and damaged several bikes in its vicinity. The BMA said the capital's Pom Prab (Sattru Phai) and Dusit districts saw the heaviest rainfall yesterday afternoon, recorded at 57 millimetres and 55 millimetres respectively. Rain also poured down in Phra Nakhon, Samphanthawong, Pathum Wan, Bang Rak, Ratchathewi, Phya Thai, Din Daeng, Sathon, Bang Kha Laem, Yannawa, Watthana, Huai Khwang, Wang Thong Lang, Bang Kapi, Suan Luang, Beung Kum, Khan Na Yow, Lat Phrao, Chatuchak, Bang Khen, Lak Si, Don Muang and Sai Mai. (Source: The Nation)


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Referendum or not?

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2015 at 19:02 PM
The decision on whether to hold a referendum on the new draft constitution lies with the National Reform Council (NRC) and the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday. "The roadmap is in accordance with the interim constitution. If there is no amendment to the interim constitution, then things will proceed accordingly," said the premier, who is also head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Contrary to popular belief, it is not up to him to decide on the matter, but up to the NRC and the CDC, he said. As for CDC chairman Borwornsak Uwanno's suggestion to use the constitution for five years first before amending it, PM Prayut replied: "This constitution can be called a constitution for reform, if we see it that way. The reform could take five, 10 or 20 years. If [future elected politicians] want to amend it, they can do so as they are elected." Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday asked the public not to criticize the draft charter so that it does not get stuck in an impasse. He added that there was still sufficient time to adjust the draft. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Princess gets appointment

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2015 at 18:55 PM
HRH Princess Bajra Kitiyabha has been appointed as an attorney at the Office of the Attorney-General's Department of Narcotics Litigation, according to the Prime Minister's Office announcement published on the Royal Gazette website on Friday.The appointment took effect retrospectively from April 1. The princess had previously worked as Nong Bua Lamphu provincial attorney at the Office of the Attorney-General. (Source: The Nation)


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26 bodies found and exhumed

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2015 at 18:53 PM
THE BODIES of 26 migrants thought to be from Myanmar or Bangladesh have been exhumed as authorities ended their search at a mass-grave site in Songkhla's border district of Sadao yesterday.In total we have 26 bodies. As far as I know, one is a woman. We still cannot tell the cause of their deaths," said Pol General Jarumporn Suramanee, head of the forensic team. "There are no more bodies. Every hole has been searched." Forensic teams, helped by rescue workers, dug out badly decayed skeletons from shallow graves covered by bamboo and a few feet of dirt throughout yesterday, at the abandoned jungle camp, AFP reported. On Friday, at least 32 shallow graves believed to belong to |trafficked migrants were discovered on a remote and rugged mountain. The bodies were discovered at a so-called "waiting area" for migrants before they were sneaked through the porous border into Malaysia. While the cause of the migrants' deaths is not yet clear, the police chief has described the site as a "virtual prison camp", which was seemingly abandoned just days before its discovery. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has issued an urgent order for the Royal Thai Police to find the culprits behind the suspected smuggling of illegal migrants, Deputy Government Spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday. (Source: The Nation)


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Abhisit: Charter not good enough

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2015 at 22:12 PM
Any achievements by Thailand's ruling junta while in power will be lost without significant changes to the country's draft constitution, Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday. The military toppled an elected government last May and is engineering wide ranging reforms to heal the country's deep political divisions. But both the Democrat Party and its rivals have called the junta's draft charter undemocratic, saying it could herald more turmoil under a weak coalition government. "If they don't come up with a constitution that is accepted, and cannot come up with one that can be sustained, they will have lost everything," Mr Abhisit, who was prime minister from 2008 to 2011, told Reuters in an interview. "Whatever they have achieved will just come to nothing." Drafters have worked on the false assumption that weakening political parties would prevent abuse of power and stem corruption, Mr Abhisit said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Trying to figh forest encroachers

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2015 at 22:07 PM
JUSTICE Minister Paiboon Koom-chaya has told 20 state agencies to set up guidelines to deal with the illegitimate issuance of land-rights documents and forestland encroachment natiowide and presented them at a meeting on May 15. Yesterday's meeting heard that forest encroachment had worsened to the point that Thailand was left with only about 102 million rai or 16.3 million hectares of forest, or under 32 per cent of the country's total area. That forest area has been shrinking by a million rai per year. Key contributing factors included unclear boundaries, illegal issuance of land-rights documents, ineffective law enforcement and state officials' involvement in encroachment. The new guidelines would see the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry oversee the clarification of forestland boundaries nationwide. These definitions would be used in the prosecution of encroachers with or without land-rights documents, Paiboon said in his capacity as chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Administrative Centre. The guidelines would ensure justice and provide remedial measures to private enterprises that bought land in good faith with documents wrongly issued by state agencies, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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