Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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Yingluck Shinawatra has taken to Facebook to say she will continue to fight to prove her innocence in the negligence court case against, apparently in response to the government’s move to block her supporters and seize her assets.

The verdict in the negligent case, relating to the her then-government’s rice-pledging scheme, will be read on August 25.

“I did not do anything wrong,” the ex-premier said on her Facebook. “What I can say is that I’m still strong, and ready to fight to prove my innocence.”

Yingluck said she wanted to speak out to reflect the current effort to “create a condition” before the court rules on her case.

Prayut said anyone who planned to mobilise in Bangkok should be aware that doing so would be illegal.

“Such an act is against the law. You may not face legal action immediately but you can’t escape it eventually. The law is still the law,” he said.

“You may like or love anyone as you please. But you don’t need to cause trouble for other people while doing so.”

His remarks came amid concerns about an attempt to mobilise large numbers of people from the provinces to gather at the court for the verdict.

The Department of Legal Execution, meanwhile, is eyeing seizing 12 of Yingluck’s bank accounts in the first civil liability action against her.

While the Finance Ministry, representing the government as the plaintiff in the case, is also pursuing other assets belonging to the ex-premier.

The asset seizure attempts are being conducted in accordance with the civil liability committee’s resolution for Yingluck to pay Bt35 billion in compensation to the state to cover heavy losses in the rice-pledging scheme, estimated at several hundred billion baht.

Yingluck has been charged with criminal negligence for allegedly failing to stop irregularities stemming from the rice-pledging scheme.

 

A meeting of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Tuesday approved the invocation of special power under Article 44 of the interim charter to accelerate the development of projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Invocation of this special power is expected to take place in the next few days, covering three areas, said Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

First, it will be executed to speed up the conduct of environment impact assessment (EIA) of each of the planned key projects in the EEC, with the national environment committee being able to appoint a panel of experts to dedicatedly study the environment impact of specific projects.

Foreign experts will also be allowed to sit on this committee, which will have to finish the EIA study of each project within a year of receiving the preliminary EIA report on the project, he said.

Second, the special power provided for under Article 44 will empower the board steering EEC development policy to approve the various public-private partnership (PPP) projects that will be set up in the corridor, without the need to seek consideration of the PPP committee, the spokesman said.

However, approvals of these PPP projects will have to involve consultation with the Finance Ministry and related state agencies in order to ensure transparency.

Third, Article 44 invocation will permit foreign private-aviation firms to hold a share of more than 50 per cent in aviation-related businesses they plan to invest in the EEC’s aviation industry zone, Sansern said.

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said the board steering EEC development policy, which is chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, would have direct authority to consider on a case-by-case basis which foreign companies should be allowed to over 50 per cent in aviation businesses within the zone, as the privilege would not be on offer to all foreign entities.

Foreign firms eligible to enjoy the privilege must submit proposals that cover investment, technology transfer, local employment, and a plan to support related businesses in Thailand, the minister explained.

The EEC – taking in the provinces of Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong – is targeted for massive infrastructure spending to support technologically advanced industries.

 

THE former chairman of Chulalongkorn University Savings Cooperative – wanted for fraud after allegedly luring people into a lottery “scam” that caused hundreds of millions in damages – surrendered to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Bangkok early yesterday morning.

Dr Sawat Saengbangpla, 79, turned himself in to investigators at around 2am, CSD chief Pol Maj-General Suthin Sappuang confirmed. 

Central Investigation Bureau chief Pol Lt-General Thitirat Nonghanpitak will announce details of the case at a press conference today.

‘Confessed to bogus scheme’

A police source said Sawat confessed during six hours of interrogation that the lottery scheme was bogus. 

Investigators will now seek to trace his transactions, retrieve the money and arrest more accomplices. 

The source said Sawat would be taken to court today when they seek approval for an initial period of detention. They will object to him being released on bail on grounds that the ‘scam’ caused Bt540 million in damages to 78 victims and he may tamper with evidence.

Arrest warrants have been extended for suspected money launderers, including Methawat Khonman, 32, who allegedly received Bt40 million to Bt60 million from 2010 until February from Sawat; Pavisaporn Baiket, 28, who allegedly received Bt42 million from Sawat; and Pavisaporn’s friend Jiratchaya Khunyosying, 32. 

Victims complained to police after Sawat suddenly disappeared after failing to pay them dividends from a separate cooperative scheme he allegedly lured them to invest in. 

The people who lost money were told that the scheme, which reportedly ran from 2010, would buy and resell lottery tickets and yield a high return of one per cent a month. 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he will discuss the controversial media reform draft bill in the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The premier responded to 30 media organisations which asked him to suspend the bill following their concerns the law could lead to state authority overshadowing media affairs.

“I’ll look at these concerns and will discuss this with the Cabinet today,” Prayut said after receiving a letter proposed by Thai Journalists Association president Pramed Lekpetch.

The media’s move came a day after the National Reform Steering Assembly endorsed the draft bill.

While the controversial licensing requirement and its penalties were removed following high concern from the media, the proposed media professional council featuring two ministerial permanent secretaries remained in the draft.

The bill draft will be forwarded to the Cabinet for further consideration.

The PM said: “The government’s only hope is to improve this country. The media should also help us with this.

“The media are speakers to the government’s good deeds because the government doesn’t do anything bad … Please don’t think that the government overshadows everything. But the media need to be capable to self-regulate also.”

In a letter directly handed to Prayut, the media groups expressed concern about the so-called media professional council, fearing it would allow the state to take part in the industry despite the press having the role of monitoring authorities’ use of power.

They also said the bill draft defined media workers too broadly – that it would cover not only professional workers but also general media users. This would result in the groups being regulated by mechanisms proposed in the draft, they said.

The media groups also said the constitution should be followed by in relation to the matter. In the charter, they said, it was stipulated that people’s freedom of expression was guaranteed while any legislation must be issued on a necessity basis and must go through a hearing involving related parties.

“We support media self-regulation where laws may be issued to recognise the status of the media,” the groups said. “But the laws must not aim to punish the media and be pushed without receiving holistic opinions from related party.”

 

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