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Revised charter still criticised

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2016 at 12:17 PM
POLITICAL GROUPS may campaign against the charter draft by saying that it allows the junta to hold on to power because provisions regarding political structures during the transitional period have greatly captured the public's attention, a leading academic has claimed. Suriyasai Katasila, deputy dean of Rangsit University's College of Social Innovation, said this "may become the weakness of the charter draft that overshadows the positive points of the draft". "The Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) must quickly disseminate the strengths of the draft in addressing political and reform issues," he said. The CDC will make final revisions to the charter draft today before forwarding it for Cabinet approval, CDC spokesman Amorn Wanitwiwat said. The CDC has revised 279 articles of the charter draft by taking into account suggestions from all sectors. The CDC will review the final wording before delivering the final revised version to the Cabinet tomorrow. The drafting of the charter will be completed within the 180-day period required by the interim charter of 2014, and CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan will hold a press conference to talk about the draft's implications. The CDC will explain the draft to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) and other state bodies on Wednesday. Amorn said the CDC had taken on board some suggestions from the four major government bodies that it believed were reasonable and did not bow to pressure to change the draft. All the suggestions were presented to the commission. NRSA deputy chairman Alongkorn Ponlaboot lauded the CDC for sticking to the roadmap for a return to democracy and the commitment to hold a general election next year. The CDC also included the reform roadmap in the charter draft as suggested by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the NLA and the NRSA. "It is unprecedented that the charter would have such a reform roadmap,'' Alongkorn said. He said the NRSA would question the CDC tomorrow about the election system, the new checks and balances for Parliament, and the local and central administrations, including the drafting of related organic laws. (Source: The Nation)


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Suspended jail for personal gain by academic

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2016 at 12:12 PM
The Criminal Court Monday gave a two-and-a-half-year suspended jail term against a former dean of Vajira Hospital's Faculty of Medicine for having used the faculty's properties to organise his daughter's wedding reception party. The court also fined Doctor Chaiwan Charoenchokethawee Bt10,000 for abusing his authority as the dean for personal gain. Chaiwan was charged with ordering officials of the faculty to use the faculty's 100 chairs, two projectors, a video player, cameras, four vehicles and several other things to organise his daughter's wedding reception at his house in January 2011. Initially, Chaiwan pledged innocence but later he pledged guilty. The court initially sentenced him to five years in jail and a fine of Bt20,000. The penalties were commuted by half because he pledged guilty. The jail term was suspended because he has no criminal record. He was put on probation for two years.


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Cab driver loses licence for repeated overcharging

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2016 at 12:08 PM
A 57-year-old taxi driver has been fined 3,000 baht and lost his licence for charging a foreign passenger 6,000 baht for a trip from Suvarnabhumi airport to Sathon area of Bangkok, and not using the fare meter. Officials of the Land Transport Department questiond the cabbie, Phiphatphol Jaikham, on Tuesday. Sukree Jaruphum, director of the department's inspection division, said the taxi driver did not use his fare meter and grossly overcharged his passenger, so he was fined 3,000 baht. It was the second such complaint brought against him. On Jan 3 this year Mr Phiphatphol had overcharged another passenger. As this was a repeat offence, the department also revoked his public vehicle driving licence, Mr Sukree said. The driver had the right to appeal within 15 days. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Personal details 2000 expats publicly visible

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2016 at 12:03 PM
The personal details of thousands of foreign nationals living in the South were briefly leaked online in what the site's developer admitted Monday was a data breach during a test for police. The leak comes as the government pushes ahead with a much publicised crackdown against foreign visa overstayers and criminals, with immigration police adopting the official slogan "Good guys in, bad guys out." The gaffe was spotted by social media users late Sunday when a database appeared online containing the names, addresses, professions and passport numbers of more than 2,000 foreigners living in Thailand's southern provinces, principally Nakhon Si Thammarat province. The website carried an immigration police seal but used a private Thai web address, not one usually associated with government sites. It was openly available without a password and some industrious users guessed the site's less-than-secure administration password: 12345. It was taken down early Monday, but not before the site's existence had gone viral. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon ordered the removal of the foreigners' data from the website, defence spokesman Khongcheep Tantravanich said on Monday. The data should not be made public and Gen Prawit ordered its removal as foreigners now were concerned about their safety because their specifics were released to the public, Maj Gen Khongcheep said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai railways go hispeed

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2016 at 18:06 PM
Thailand will no longer delay new rail projects after a planned joint venture with China got bogged down, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Gen Prayut said the construction of the line between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima would be only the first step in a series of lines to come in the future. "If we are still dragging our feet on this project, we will not catch up with other countries," he said in his Returning Happiness to All Thais weekly programme on Friday. The prime minister told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their Mekong summit in Sanya in Hainan province on Wednesday that Thailand would go ahead with the train project without forming a joint venture with China. The much-publicised project calls for a new line for medium-speed trains from Nong Khai to Map Ta Phut in Rayong and Bangkok. Thai and Chinese officials held a splashy ceremony in December to kick off the project, even though they were still at odds over the financial arrangements and the form of partnership the joint venture would take. While Thailand will now fund the entire cost of the line, Gen Prayut said in China that China would construct the line to underline the still strong relations between the two countries. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dog killer gets only suspended jail term

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2016 at 17:53 PM
The man who killed a dog in front of a Bangkok mall on January 13 was given a two-year suspended jail term and hit with a Bt7,500 fine. Wicha Boonleulak - who was found guilty of violating the 1947 Act on Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and the Equivalent and the 2014 Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act - also has to perform 12 hours of public service and report to a probation official four times this year.


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Summer storms expected

Posted by hasekamp on 23 March 2016 at 10:53 AM
Summer thunderstorms and gusty winds are likely in the eastern part of the North, Northeast and Central regions from Thursday to Sunday, according to the Meteorological Department forecast issued on Wednesday morning. The forecast said a moderate high pressure area over China will extend to cover the Northeast and the South China Sea from March 24-27, bringing thunderstorms and gusty winds. After that, temperatures are expected to drop by 5-7ºC in the Northeast. Meanwhile, the southeasterly wind prevailing in the Gulf and the South of Thailand will strengthen. Waves of up to two metres high are expected in the lower Gulf of Thailand. (Source: The bangkok Post)


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Extra security on Phuket Airport

Posted by hasekamp on 23 March 2016 at 10:44 AM
A bomb disposal squad is on standby and extra military personnel are on guard at checkpoints in and around Phuket International Airport. "We have raised the security status to 'level three plus' and have implemented extra safety measures throughout the airport and surrounding area," said Phuket Airport Director Monrudee Gettuphan. Checkpoints at the airport's entrance went up at 8pm on March 22 in response to the news of the blasts in Belgium (story here). "We are monitoring the situation in Brussels closely for any further developments," confirmed Ms Monrudee. Other extra security measures put in place at the airport include increased foot patrols by security personnel throughout the airport and strict control of vehicles. Vehicles are being checked at the airport entrance and extra security personnel are keeping a close eye on the parking facilities. No parking is allowed near the terminal entrance, although passengers may be dropped off as normal. Inside the airport terminals, passengers are being subjected to tighter baggage inspections. However, all domestic and international flights are operating as normal. "The airport is doing its best not to inconvenience passengers unnecessarily. We thank visitors for their understanding. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Water trucks to bring water in the country

Posted by hasekamp on 23 March 2016 at 10:41 AM
The Thai government deployed more than 700 trucks to carry water to 18 provinces as a nationwide drought continues, the government said Wednesday. At least 2,580 villages in the stricken provinces are currently declared disaster zones from the drought, the Department of Disaster Mitigation and Prevention said in a statement. The 713 water trucks will make multiple trips, the statement added. The governor of Kalasin province, Winai Witayanukul, revealed that since the drought began his administration has had to distribute more than 3.9 million litres of emergency water to villages. He called on the central government to continue its assistance as rainy season was still over a month away. (Source: The Nation)


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21 Phuket taxi drivers arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2016 at 13:17 PM
Police have arrested a total of 21 taxi drives at a checkpoint in Patong (Phuket) in the past two days, 19 of whom were fined for being inappropriately dressed. Patong traffic policeman Ekkarat Plaiduang and Tourist Police Chief Urumporn Koondejsumrit led the checkpoint in front of the Patong Police Station in order to crack down on fixed-price taxi services and ensure that green-plate taxi drivers were dressing appropriately. "We have been setting up checkpoints randomly, following the policy of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the national police to crack down on taxi drivers who take advantage of tourists and give the country a bad image," said Maj Urumporn. Police confirmed that green-plate taxi drivers must dress conservatively and not in shorts and t-shirts. "Taxi drivers are in very close contact with tourists, either when they are arriving or departing. That's why it's important for them to act honestly and courteously, and to dress smartly," Maj Urumporn explained. The other two arrested drivers were caught for not turning on their meters. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Political parties against junta plans

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2016 at 13:13 PM
POLITICIANS from the two major camps yesterday cried foul over the junta's ideas to have a selected Senate, a non-elected prime minister and larger electoral constituencies, worrying that these elements would allow the military to take deep root and dictate the politics and fate of the country for a long time. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) earlier recommended to the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) that it put these three key political elements into the draft charter. The selected 250-member Senate, including a quota for top commanders of the Armed Forces, would become a powerhouse to control the legislative body and the executive branch, said Chaturon Chaisang, a key figure in the Pheu Thai Party. Such dominance would certainly reduce the weight of MPs' voices on the floor of the House of Representatives, he said. For instance, it would require votes from only 126 MPs, together with those from 250 lobbied senators, to strip the whole Cabinet bare, he added. The junta wanted to kill off the drafters' idea to have a three-name PM candidate list in the ballot, which Chaturon said would allow outsiders to be nominated for the position of premier. Another junta proposal, on the election of MPs - allowing people to vote for only one candidate out of three - was also worrisome, he said, adding that the idea would unnecessarily scatter votes among political parties, with the bigger ones able to obtain only about one-third of the seats in the House. The Democrat Party's Nipit Intarasombat yesterday said that every proposal from the junta for revising the charter draft was worrisome. (Source: The Nation)


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Water shortage

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2016 at 13:08 PM
OVER THE NEXT four and a half months, Thailand will have to be extra careful with water management to prevent drought from causing far-reaching damage. Some key dams in the country have already stopped releasing water for irrigating farmland. Their dwindling supplies are rationed for human consumption and preserving the ecological balance. However, in some areas, the situation is getting so serious that agencies are having a tough time securing water even to keep faucets running. More than 700 villages in the northeastern province of Si Sa Ket are struggling with a shortage of water for consumption. "We have to send water trucks to affected villages including to temples and schools," Santawat Riewluang, chief of the provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office, said yesterday. Dr Kitti Paopiamsap, president of the Chachoengsao Provincial Administrative Organisation, said the crisis in the eastern province is the worst in 20 years. "We now have to prepare water for people's consumption," he said. A dozen water trucks were requisitioned to carry 12,000 litres of water each to seriously hit areas, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Message for Dutch users only (about China Airlines)

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2016 at 12:53 PM
China Airlines stopt per 2 december 2016 met het vliegen naar Bangkok. De vlucht naar Bangkok-Taipeh stopt vanaf 2 december 2016 dus niet meer in Bangkok, maar gaat rechtstreeks door naar Taipeh. Dit is de nieuwe policy van China Airlines, die voor alle vluchten die vanuit Europa vertrekken zal gelden. De achtergrond hiervan is, dat China Airlines vanaf december 2016 met nieuwe, grotere, toestellen gaat vliegen, die een tussenlanding niet meer nodig maken. Verder wil China Airlines snellere, directe, vluchten vanuit Europa naar Taipeh aanbieden. Vanaf 2 december 2016 vliegen alleen EVA Air en KLM nog rechtstreeks van Amsterdam naar Bangkok. Een andere mogelijkheid is de dagelijkse vlucht van Thai Airways International van Frankfurt naar Bangkok. Wanneer u deze vlucht boekt, krijgt u in dezelfde klasse (gratis) vervoer met Lufthansa van Amsterdam naar Frankfurt.


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Commuter boat exploded, 71 injured

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2016 at 19:38 PM
THE MARINE DEPARTMENT plans to require the owners of commuter boats to check the engine and fuel system of vessels twice a year in the wake of the explosion on a commuter boat ("water bus") on Bangkok's Saen Saeb Canal on Saturday that left dozens of people injured. Previously boat owners were required to do the check once a year. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the explosion, which left 71 people injured. Of them, 19 remained hospitalised yesterday including four people in intensive care. Police have not pressed charges against anyone yet. Marine Department deputy director-general Nat Chubchai vowed to step up measures for commuter boat safety. In addition to increasing the frequency of the safety checks, he said fuel specialists should be stationed at every pier. "Although the exact cause [of the explosion] is still not known, it is very likely the blast occurred because of LNG [liquefied natural gas]," he said. Following the explosion, the Marine Department ordered the suspension of all 25 LNG-powered commuter boats operating on Saen Saeb Canal. (Source: The Nation)


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Unelected Senate decisive for Thailand?

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2016 at 19:23 PM
AN Unelected but powerful Senate, if included in the charter as suggested by the government, would be a decisive factor in convincing people to reject the constitution draft in the referendum, observers said yesterday. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said earlier that the charter should give power to senators to balance the executive branch for five years during the "transition period". His statement supported the idea of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who said senators should be selected for a five-year term to ensure the success of national reform and national strategies. Prayut backed Prawit's proposal, saying: "Many countries do it this way. General Prawit has the same idea as me." Democrat Party deputy leader Ongart Klampaiboon said the idea of having an unelected Senate for five years was obsolete and out of date. In practice, he said, it allowed the junta to pick its own people to control the next government. "The Constitution Drafting Commission [CDC] should think about the fate of the nation in the long run, rather than just temporarily or in the transition period," Ongart said. "If the constitution contained such a nonsensical element, there would be a slim chance of it passing the referendum." Academic Jade Donavanik, dean of Durakit Bandit University's Faculty of Law, said the Senate as a legislative body should have linkages to the people. Although direct elections might not be necessary, people should have some role in selecting senators, he said. "The selection system as initially suggested by the CDC is fine as it has some elements of public participation, but handpicking senators by the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] is undemocratic," he said. Former foreign minister Noppadon Pattama from the Pheu Thai Party said people should have the right to choose their senators in accordance with democratic norms. (Source: The Nation)


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