Monday, June 18, 2018
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ACTING National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general Worawit Sookboon yesterday appealed for “normal procedures” to be followed over allegations regarding Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan’s possession of a luxury watch and diamond ring.

Worawit urged people to let the NACC do its job before jumping to any conclusions.

“Please let us follow our normal work procedures. Don’t speculate too much about it,” said Worawit.

Last week, the NACC gave Prawit 30 days to justify his possession of the two extravagant items, which he wore during a group photograph with the recently reshuffled Cabinet last Monday.

The photo – which showed the 72-year-old retired general shielding his eyes with his hand, displaying what appeared to be extremely expensive accessories – quickly caught the public’s attention and raised questions as to how a lifelong military officer could afford such luxuries.

Prawit is expected to submit an explanatory letter to the NACC today, according to a source close to him. The letter was at the Defence Ministry office and would be forwarded to the NACC after the long weekend, the source said.

An unconfirmed local report also claimed that Prawit’s ring was inherited from his mother, while what looked like a multi-million-baht Richard Mille watch was borrowed from Prawit’s businessman friend.

The source close to Prawit refused to confirm those claims, adding that the junta’s second-in-command would explain the matter only to the NACC.

The NACC is presided over by Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, who used to serve as a deputy secretary-general to the prime minister attached to Prawit. This has raised questions about whether the probe will be impartial.

Prawit’s “unusual wealth” was also an issue in 2014 when he entered the Cabinet, after he failed to declare any assets worth more than Bt200,000 to the NACC.

 

A gay American couple who author the Instagram page “Travelling Butts” have been arrested at Don Mueang International Airport for having taken photos showing their backsides with the respected Temple of the Dawn.

Police have so far only identified the two as Joseph and Travis, as their identities have yet to be confirmed with the Bangkok Yai police station whose jurisdiction covers the temple.

Immigration Police deputy spokesman Pol Colonel Choengron Rimphadee said the two were arrested at the outbound immigration counter at the airport.

The spokesman said when the couple were checking out at the counter, the online database of the Immigration Bureau alerted police that they were on the arrest watchlist.

On November 24, the Manager Online reported that the two had taken the so-called “buttfie” showing their bottoms with the Temple of the Dawn in the background. Police then began searching for them.

The two were handed over to the Bangkok Yai police station for further action. The spokesman said the charge would not be a normal public indecency charge. Instead, they would be charged with committing indecency in a place of worship, which carries a long jail term.

Following their arrest, the two have deleted all the photos taken in Thailand, leaving only their “buttfie” photos taken in other countries.

 

CDC defends proportional vote system

Posted by pakin On November - 20 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) defended the new voting system on Sunday, following growing criticism from political parties that it is designed to weaken an elected government.

The new system will add up the votes parties receive in all constituencies nationwide to determine the percentage of party-list MP seats each is allocated.

Politicians claim the new model will prevent major parties from gaining a majority of House seats and being able to form a single-party government. This could result in multi-party coalitions which are seen as lacking political stability.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said the system is designed to make sure that every vote cast on election day counts. Unlike the old first-past-the-post system, votes cast for losing constituency candidates will still be used to calculate the number of party-list seats.

Mr Meechai was referring to the formula to be used to calculate party-list seats to ensure the threshold of 150.

The total number of MPs is capped at 500, 350 of whom are elected from constituencies and 150 coming from the party list.

He also dismissed as “speculation” the criticism that no party will win enough seats to form a single-party administration.

“If a party gets many votes, those votes will be counted and used in the allocation of the House seats. But of course the party can’t get more from the party list than its proportion of votes even if it wins a landslide victory,” he said.

The CDC chairman also said politicians’ concerns cannot force any changes because the new voting system is included in the new charter while the organic bill only specifies the details.

“The calculation isn’t difficult and it will be done by election officials,” he said.

Mr Meechai said the voting system also has another key feature which is equally important, pointing out that “no” votes (spoiled votes) will not be wasted as the proposals require constituency MP candidates to win more votes than the total number of “no” votes, to qualify for a constituency MP seat.

Pheu Thai’s Chusak Sirinil insisted Sunday the new voting system is designed to cripple major parties, and when combined with other conditions such as the qualifications and the nomination of the prime minister, the new system is designed to allow the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) a prolonged stay in power.

The Democrat Party, on the other hand, warned the new voting system is not foolproof and politicians can come up with a strategy to undermine it.

Democrat deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said a large party will use the tactic of dividing itself into smaller parties to contest elections, only to form a coalition government later.

This can help win as many as 250 seats, he said.

However, he said the elected government will face a stability crisis due to the 250-seat senate, which is appointed by the regime.

Nikorn Chamnong, director of Chartthaipattana Party, echoed Mr Niphit’s view that the elected government will lack political stability.

“What will happen is that the elected government is weak. And despite the problems it [the voting system] can’t be fixed because it’s part of the charter,” he said.

 

Laws concerning the qualification of candidates contesting local elections must be amended before the general election can be held, chief charter drafter Meechai Ruchupan has said.

The government is discussing whether local elections will be held ahead of the national election and legal amendments have been raised.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said he would discuss the matter with concerned parties, including the Constitution Drafting Commission, which is drafting the organic laws.

Meechai said the election cannot take place within one or two months as the related laws need to be amended first.

He said the Election Commission can still go ahead with its work in organising the elections in local areas.

Local elections are normally supervised by the EC, although under the new law there will no longer be provincial ECs.

Political parties, he said, could support their candidates, but it is up to the National Council for Peace and Order to decide when to lift the ban on political gatherings.

 

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