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Why is there a lese majeste law in Thailand?

Posted by hasekamp on 28 November 2015 at 15:03 PM
PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that the lese majeste law was aimed at protecting the monarchy against defamation, as members of the Royal Family are unable to sue offenders themselves. He was responding to a recent remark by US Ambassador Glyn Davies that prison terms handed down under the Kingdom's tough royal defamation law had increased to an unprecedented degree under the post-coup administration. Davies also asserted that no one should be jailed for peacefully expressing his or her opinion. Davies, who assumed his position nine weeks ago, made his comments at a talk at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Wednesday. The prime minister yesterday said foreigners appeared to have no understanding about this law, stated in Article 112 of the Penal Code, despite repeated attempts to explain it to them. "Every country has its own defamation laws. This is a defamation law for the monarchy. It's because the monarchy cannot sue anyone. This law is for the protection of the monarchy against defamation," General Prayut said. When asked about the US envoy's comments, Prayut said: "It's up to him." He did not think it was right for law violators to complain that their rights are infringed upon after they are arrested. Also yesterday, prominent royalist monk Luang Pu Buddha Issara led a protest at the US Embassy against Davies' criticism of the lese-majeste law. (Source: The Nation)


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Bag snatcher in Thalang, Phuket, sought

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2015 at 12:40 PM
Phuket police are hunting a possible serial snatch thief who made off with a woman's purse Wednesday night in Thalang. Namthip Kritkarom, 22, was on her way back from the Loy Krathong festival when the suspect grabbed her bag from the front of her motorbike while driving past her on a black Honda Click, confirmed Lt Suporn Muangkai of the Thalang Police. "This is the same type of motorbike that was reported in a similar case the night before," said Lt Suporn. "However, this time the suspect got away with about six thousand baht in cash. "Thalang Police are still investigating Tuesday night's case, in which a woman's purse was stolen while she was on her way to a bus station. Sukanya Koisinsok, 40, was on the way to a bus stop with her husband in preparation for a trip to Hat Yai. "As my husband slowed down our motorbike, a man in a white shirt rode by and grabbed my bag from the motorbike basket," Ms Sukanya told the Thalang Police. Inside the bag was an iPhone valued at about 6,900 baht, more than 1,600-baht cash and Ms Sukanya's ATM and national identification cards. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Less krathong floats collected

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2015 at 12:33 PM
This Wednesday it was Loy Krathong Festival. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) collected some 826,000 krathong floats from the celebrations across the city, 17 per cent fewer than last year. Of them, 754,587 (91.4 per cent) were made of natural materials and 71,027 (or 8.6 per cent) of styrofoam, BMA deputy spokesperson Benjasai Kiyapat told the press yesterday. This year saw a 1.2 per cent increase in floats made from natural materials, she added. The lower number of krathongs this year was partially due to the city's campaign for families to use only one krathong, she said, adding that the collected floats would be sent to the On Nut, Sai Mai and Nong Khaem garbage disposal facilities. "Bread krathongs will be fed to fish, natural-material krathongs will be turned into fertiliser and styrofoam ones will be sent for recycling," she said. Of Bangkok's 29 public parks used for Loy Krathong celebrations, the Benchakiti Park adjacent the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre drew the most people followed by Lumphini Park. Klong Toei district lured the most people. (Source: The Nation)


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Prayut want more security for the rest of his tenure

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2015 at 12:21 PM
Prime Minister Prayut Chanocha said Friday that he has ordered the police and military to increase security measures throughout the country for the rest of his government's tenure. He said the focus would be on important tourist destinations, risky locations and areas with traffic congestion. The PM urged public members not to be startled by a large presence of security personnel who would soon begin patrolling different places all over the country. And more security cameras would also be installed, he added. The security officers would focus their attention on the upcoming Bike for Dad cycling event to be held on December 11 and they would also cover other big national events like the New Year celebrations, according to the prime minister. The increased security measures would be maintained for the rest of this administration's tenure, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Dutch former 'coffee shop' owner goes in appeal

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2015 at 11:24 AM
Johan van Laarhoven, a former Dutch owner of a coffee shop, where in the Netherlands the dealing of 'soft drugs' is allowed, goes in appeal against his conviction to 103 years of imprisonment for laundering the money he earned with drugs dealing. He was convicted last week and is in prison for several years already. His Dutch lawyer says that the money was obtained by drugs dealing, and that selling of cannabis is not a crime under Dutch law. The Thai judge did not take that into account. He also warned other 'coffee shop' owners, who have retired to Thailand, that they might expect a similar punishment. (Source: Dutch newspapers)


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Obama ready to help bring back democracy

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2015 at 11:00 AM
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama said yesterday he realised that Thailand's internal politics were complicated, and that the US was ready to cooperate with the Kingdom in its bid to forge a stable democracy. Obama conveyed his message in a meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila. Deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukhondhapatipak said Prayut had told Obama he would do his best to bring full democracy back to Thailand. "US President Obama told Prayut that Thai politics is complicated, but that he is ready to help Thailand return to sustainable democracy," Werachon said. Obama said relations between the two countries were very significant, especially since Thailand is an old US ally in the region. "He emphasised that the bilateral relations and military cooperation are still strong," Werachon said. (Source: The Nation)


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Alcohol banned for Loy Krathong

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2015 at 10:49 AM
Provincial governors are being instructed to ban sales of alcohol in areas where the Loy Krathong festival is celebrated next week, in the interests of public safety. Chatchai Promlert, chief of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, said governors could ban the sale of beer, wine and spirits in designated Loy Krathong areas under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act 2008. Volunteers would patrol festival events to make sure they remain free of alcohol. This would help prevent undesirable incidents and foster the spirit of the traditional festival, which falls on Nov 25 this year. The department will also strictly control the use of fireworks, to ensure it remans within the law, and educate the public about the dangers of fireworks. Mr Chatchai said the use of floating and smoke lanterns, balloons, laser lighting and drones must stay within declared hours in stipulated areas. People who violated the law would face punishment, especially if they caused harm to other people's health or property. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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A Go for Phuket tram

Posted by hasekamp on 19 November 2015 at 15:21 PM
The Transport Ministry has agreed to build a 60-kilometre north-south tram line at a cost of 23.5 billion baht on Phuket island over the next six years with Chinese, European and Korean operators expressing interest in getting involved. Chaiwat Tongkamkoon, deputy director-general of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP), said a meeting of transport authorities including Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith resolved to build the tram line to relieve heavy traffic congestion that was affecting tourism in Phuket. "The OTP organised three public hearings and received positive responses from local people and operators. From now it will talk to the departments of highways and rural roads that supervise the traffic islands where tram lines will be built," Mr Chaiwat said. The light rail system had received support from the Transport Ministry because there would be no need for land expropriation, construction and maintenance costs would be low and it could be designed to blend in with the urban areas of Phuket, he said. Transport authorities on Thursday ordered the OTP to work out the details of the project with the Department of Highways, the Department of Rural Roads, Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT) and local administration organisations. The system will include 23 stations and should initially serve 68,000 people a day when it opens in 2021, Mr Chaiwat said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Trees saved by locals

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2015 at 11:23 AM
The Nai Harn Movie Museum will be re-designed to ensure that none of the pine trees along the beach front will be cut down. The change in plans to the 40-million-baht facility comes after locals tied pieces of saffron fabric around the trees, threatening to have hundreds protest. "We planned to cut down the trees because the roots can cause possible damage to the buildings," Santi Pawai, director of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket Office, told the Phuket Gazette today. "However, the constructor will redesign the museum to ensure that no trees are harmed." The fast growing pine trees are about 30 years old and very important to the community, explained 41-year-old Sayjai Mueller. "I am one of the people who helped grow the trees in this grove as a child. At first, we had no problem with the museum, as we didn't realize they would be cutting down the trees," Ms Sayjai said. "Who wants to come to see the movie museum when they come to the beach anyway? We need to be in nature, with families sitting among those trees, not against the wall of a museum." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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GrabTaxi service in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2015 at 11:17 AM
Myteksi, an on-demand taxi booking service in Malaysia, is better known in Phuket, and much of the rest of the region, as GrabTaxi. The company works hand-in-hand with local government offices, after garnering the support of former Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong earlier this year, as it establishes its brand and pushes any competition (such as Uber) to the side. The most recent campaign saw the company team up with the Patong Municipality for the annual Patong Carnival, when it offered rides anywhere on the island to and from the party town for 100 baht. The key to the company's penetration into the infamous Phuket-taxi market is their focus on being 'hyperlocal'. "This means that we understand local issues and are able to leverage this local knowledge to build a viable business model that suits each community. For example, in Phuket, GrabCar (private hire vehicle service) passengers can key-in their address in English, but the drivers, who mainly only understand Thai, will see the address in Thai," a GrabTaxi representative told the Phuket Gazette. "Our call center personnel also speak Thai, English and Chinese to aid coordination between drivers and tourists. Our drivers and passengers love this value-added service." "GrabCar is still new in Phuket, having launched only in September this year." Available in Phuket are two services: GrabTaxi and GrabCar. With the support of the former Phuket Governor during their launch, the company has coordinated its price structure to match the requirements of the Phuket Land Transportation Office. Meter rates start at 50 baht, with an additional 30 baht booking fee. However, the meter doesn't start until after the driver has picked up his passenger(s), GrabTaxi's website explains. In case of traffic jams, when the taxi cannot move more than 6 kilometers per hour, the fare is charged at 1 baht per minute. For airport pickups, which cost an additional 100 baht, passengers are required to make advance bookings, and can do so anywhere from two hours to seven days ahead of time. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Cabinet wants new plans from State enterprises

Posted by hasekamp on 4 November 2015 at 11:32 AM
The Cabinet yesterday ordered Thai Airways International, Bangkok Mass Transit Authority and the State Railway of Thailand to submit their business rehabilitation plans within this month. All the three loss-losing state enterprises are under the supervision of the Transport Ministry. Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that the plans would be forwarded to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. "Loss-making state enterprises like THAI need rehabilitation and their employees must realise that their organisational structure does not align with personnel and operations. The structure remains big with huge expenses on executive-level personnel which bears little responsibility. THAI has reshuffled 77 executive-level titles but the expenses remain high. Does the rehabilitation show any progress?" Arkhom said. He added that all the state enterprises have been ordered to revamp their operations for long-term viability. This must contain contingency plans. (Source: The Nation)


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Purple Line under construction. Free test rides

Posted by hasekamp on 4 November 2015 at 11:29 AM
A train depot for the Purple Line opened on Tuesday as the mass-transit line rolled a bit further down the track towards completion. Construction of the storage, repair and training centre in Nonthaburi's Bang Yai district is 80% complete and officials said it will be ready by the time a test run begins. Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said after the opening ceremony that test runs were planned for May and June. During the trial, free ride will be offered to passengers. The official launch for the line between Bang Yai to Tao Pun is scheduled for Aug 12 to honour Her Majesty the Queen on her birthday. Fares on the new route will start at 16 baht and increase by two baht for every stop with the maximum capped at 40 baht. It has 16 stations along the 23-kilometre line run by electric trains manufactured by Marubeni Corp and Toshiba Corp of Japan. The first three trains arrived on Sept 7 and 18 more will be delivered by January. The Purple Line falls under the responsibility of the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), which sold a concession to Bangkok Metro Public Co (BMCL) to operate it. BMCL also operates the Blue Line, better known as the MRT subway. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Plans for Phuket light rail

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2015 at 17:50 PM
Officials are rushing to get Phuket's light rail project chugging down the tracks, Sirigate Apirat, the project secretary for the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP). "It has already taken too long to get the plan together, so I've been ordered to finalize it by the end of this month. This way we can get it to the Ministry of Transport as soon as possible," Mr Sirigate said. Following a number of adjustments made to the greatly-anticipated project in September by officials from the OTP, Mr Sirigate explained that the plan, excluding the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) proposal, would be finished by the end of the year (story here). However, pressure from Bangkok has pushed everything forward by one month. "Once the plan is officially approved, we will begin working on the EIA, which will take about a year," Mr Sirigate said.With several investors already interested in the project, Mr Sirigate expects the public transport system to be fully functional by 2021. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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2G network to be closed

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2015 at 17:47 PM
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has deferred the date it will switch off the 2G-900MHz service of Advanced Info Service (AIS) to December 22 from the originally planned November 19, NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said Tuesday. The decision follows its telecom committee's resolution on Monday to put off the auction date for 900MHz licences from November 12 to December 15. The auction date for 1800MHz licences remains unchanged at November 11. Some 2.2 million subscribers of AIS's 2G-900MHz service are yet to migrate to other networks after the operator's 900MHz concession under TOT ended on September 30. (Source: The Nation)


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PM: Country not to be shut down

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2015 at 17:44 PM
PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha clarified Tuesday that he did not really plan to "shut down" the country, saying that Thailand prior to the coup last year was on the verge of disaster - prompting him to draw a comparison to the "Shutdown" rallies prior to the takeover - in remarks to the "five rivers" last week. The "five rivers" are the Cabinet, the National Council for Peace and Order, the National Reform Steering Assembly, the National Legislative Assembly, and the Constitutional Drafting Commission. "What I really meant is that if conflicts are still not resolved, our country will head towards a situation just like before May 22 [when the military staged the coup]," he said. Thus, he drew a comparison - as a failed state would be like the country was shut down. "Will there be any difference?" he quipped, adding that he did not mean the country would be shut down. (Source: The Nation)


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Paedophile network smashed

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2015 at 17:41 PM
Arrest warrants were issued Monday for 23 people, including government workers, politicians, a former abbot and an ex-soldier, for allegedly molesting underage girls in Chiang Mai. The 23 alleged paedophiles are wanted on charges of sexual abuse of a child under 15, regardless of whether the child is willing or not, said Pol Maj Gen Songtham Anlapart, deputy chief of Region 5 Provincial Police. A total of 25 warrants were issued after Children and Women's Protection Centre and anti-human trafficking officers rescued three girls aged ages 13-15 from a brothel where they forced into prostitution by a woman listed among the wanted. The girls told authorities so-called mamasan contacted clients through the Line mobile-messaging application, Pol Maj Gen Songtham said. It was reported that those wanted included well-known figures in the Chiang Mai social scene. Among them were senior ministry bureaucrats, successful businessmen, local politicians and some university lecturers. Of the group, about a dozen suspects have been arrested. Among them are Maj Kriengsak Maiwong, 60, a former army officer attached to a camp in Chiang Mai, and Pone Sungsiri, 47, a former abbot of a well-known temple in the province. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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