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Police storm red-shirt centres, foil openings

Posted by pakin On June - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

RED-SHIRT leader Jatuporn Prompan vowed yesterday to keep the group’s anti-fraud centres active by using social media, despite them being banned by the junta. The junta, in turn, warned him further activities could break the law.

A plan by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to broadcast the kick-off of its referendum fraud-monitoring centres nationwide live via its “Peace TV” channel yesterday was foiled. Police stormed into the station’s studio at Imperial World shopping centre in Lat Phrao in Bangkok, to stop its activities.

The police, led by Chokchai Station chief Pol Col Supol Kamchu, told the station to stop all its activities as they would breach the National Council for Peace and Order’s ban on political gatherings of five people and more. The red-shirt activists were ordered to leave the studio before the police occupied the venue.

Jatuporn said: “Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is unreliable because the PM earlier allowed the anti-fraud centres to be set up. But eventually the junta made a U-turn and barred the red-shirt operation.”

He said although officers had occupied anti-fraud centres in Bangkok and provinces – where supporters who ran the fraud centres were arrested – the red shirts would not back down from their plan.

“The centres have been open since June 5 and will continue to gather referendum fraud complaints from the people through online channels.”

EC to monitor Facebook for ‘offences’

The Technology Crime Suppression Division, Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Election Committee (EC) resolved last week to set up a committee to monitor the use of online media to disseminate messages regarding the referendum. The committee also aims to suppress online offences.

National Council for Peace and Order spokesman Col Piyapong Klinpan said the NCPO and the EC were closely monitoring the UDD’s anti-fraud centre Facebook page on whether it breaks the law by inciting moves to involve the public. Piyapong said the UDD’s stepping up of its activities on social media after its centre had been shut down was not beyond what the NCPO had expected. He said the council would tread carefully taking action against the UDD’s FB page because it did not want to stir public sympathy as that is what the UDD wanted.

The UDD’s anti-fraud FB page now has 1522 ‘likes’ since it started on June 5, the same day when the centre was established at its headquarters in Lat Phrao.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai executive Chaturon Chaisang said the forced closure of the anti-fraud centres was illegitimate, as their operations were not violating any law, including the referendum bill. The UDD merely wanted to gather information on possible fraud and was not assembling for any political reason, he said, referring to the NCPO order prohibiting gatherings of five or more people.

“It signifies that people cannot engage with the plebiscite process at all. They can’t even exchange information,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jatuporn will meet with the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today to discuss rights issues as the country heads to the August referendum on a charter draft.

Jatuporn warned that if the junta did not allow people to take part in the referendum, Prayut would end up like General Suchinda Kraprayoon, the former prime minister who took office during the ‘Black May’ uprising in 1992 and was ousted by protesters following major bloodshed.

Police and military officers yesterday shut down UDD’s fraud watch centres across the country.

National Security Council secretary-general Thawip Netniyom also said yesterday that the UDD plan to open referendum anti-fraud centres has hidden motives. “They are trying to get publicity, which is not right. If they want to ensure fairness and transparency, they can just ring the officials to tip them off about any irregularities,” he said.

Prayut woos Russia at Moscow business forum

Posted by pakin On May - 19 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told the Thai-Russia Business Dialogue in Moscow yesterday that his government aimed to boost trade five-fold with Russia in the next five years and it wanted to boost economic cooperation.

Last year, the value of bilateral trade between the two countries stood at just US$2.3 billion (Bt81.87 billion) and there is a lot of room for cooperation to increase the volume of trade, he said, noting that this business dialogue was also a good opportunity to discuss more investment opportunities.

Prayut, who went to Russia on Tuesday and will return tomorrow, is there to cement bilateral ties as well as attend a special Asean-Russia summit. He met with his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in St Petersburg yesterday and is scheduled to call on President Vladimir Putin in Sochi today.

Prayut had earlier said that his government was interested in cooperating with Russia in the defence sector and would purchase some military hardware such as helicopters from the country.

He also told the business forum that his government had tried to fix internal problems, ease the national divide as well as boost ties with countries in the region and outside.

“Thailand is moving towards a perfect democracy and good governance, and it will be developed to catch up with the rapidly changing global environment,” Prayut said.

The Thai economy is only expected to grow by 3 to 3.5 per cent this year, with the growth mostly generated by domestic consumption, tourism and government spending, he said.

He added that his government was trying to introduce reforms so as to make way for sustainable development and invited Russian businesses to seek opportunities in the Kingdom. He also said that Thailand could become a regional hub for Russian business in the Asean region.

Panel to study evidence from 2008 protest

Posted by pakin On April - 28 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

A SUB-PANEL will be set up this week to consider the additional evidence made available on the crackdown on yellow-shirt protesters in 2008 and should complete its work by next month, Sansern Polijak, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), said yesterday.

The panel will then submit its findings to the NACC to consider and decide whether it should withdraw the case filed at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.

The defendants include former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, his then-deputy General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, former national police chief Pol General Patcharawat Wongsuwan and former Bangkok police chief Pol Lt-General Suchart Muankaew. The defendants reportedly filed a petition asking the NACC to look into their additional evidence.

NACC chairman Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit had said earlier that under law, the commission can look into the petition, but whether it decides to withdraw the case or not depends on the evidence.

He reiterated the point yesterday, saying that he had asked concerned officials to expedite the evidence review so the defendants can be treated fairly. The sub-panel will be chaired by the NACC secretary-general himself.

Yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters were violently removed from outside Parliament in October 2008, leading to the NACC filing malfeasance charges against the then-prime minister and his deputy, along with two police chiefs. Two people were killed and more than 300 injured, including police officers, during the crackdown.

One of the defendants, Patcharawat, is Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s brother and it is believed that the deputy PM backed his brother for the post of new NACC chairman, leading to speculation that nepotism could be at play.

Watcharapol said he acknowledged the speculation, and as the agency’s chairperson, he said he must proceed with the case with utmost care. However, he added that eventually the withdrawal of the case would depend on the court.

“Today, we are talking about using reason and law to lead our decision, not a sense of justice or injustice,” Watcharapol said. “According to law, we can consider and come up with reasons, and if our decision to withdraw the case is submitted to the court, it will be the court who finally decides whether the case should be withdrawn.

The point is we have not yet reached a conclusion.”

Watcharapol dismissed a former NACC member’s remark that no cases have ever been withdrawn from court, saying the agency would adhere to the rule of law and proceed with the case.

Meanwhile, a source at the agency said the nine NACC members have started discussing the case to gauge each other’s views. However, they will wait until the sub-panel wraps up its review before making a decision on the petition.

PHEU THAI Party politician Watana Muangsook yesterday was released on bail of Bt80,000 by the military court on condition that he does not get involved in political provocations and cannot leave the country without court permission.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) yesterday had sought the military court’s permission to extend Watana’s detention for his alleged violation of an NCPO order.

The politician denied the allegation, saying he had just expressed his opinion on a social network and had not violated any agreement with the NCPO, according to his lawyer Narinpong Jinapak.

Watana is accused of breaking an agreement with the NCPO that he would not carry out political activities, which he had signed for his previous release from detention.

The politician has been detained four times, including the most recent detention, which was justified because he had violated the NCPO Announcement Number 39/2557, according to an NCPO source.

The politician has been on a partial hunger strike since being detained on Monday, consuming only coconuts and juice.

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