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Govt declares new war on drug trade

Posted by arnon_k On December - 17 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Activists fear repeat of Thaksin mistakes
A government plan to launch a fresh crackdown on drugs is raising concerns among human rights advocates who fear a repeat of the mistakes which characterised the Thaksin Shinawatra administration’s war on drugs.

It is believed up to 2,600 people were killed, many in suspicious circumstances, during the 2003 campaign launched by Thaksin.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday called a meeting of the National Narcotics Board to discuss the operational details of a new campaign aimed at curbing drug use and drug-related crime. Mr Suthep chairs the board.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is scheduled to launch the year-long campaign next month.

The new drug crackdown will focus on border provinces such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son in the North and Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat in the South.

Authorities will also intensify their efforts in 175 districts, mostly in the central provinces, where the drug trade and use are rampant, Mr Suthep said.

The new campaign comes in the wake of the killing of a 12-year-old boy, Phokin Deephiu, in a Dec 4 drive-by shooting in Ayutthaya, believed to have been carried out by suspected drug dealers Charnchai and Noppon Prasongsil. Charnchai, alias “Joke Paikiew”, was killed in a shoot-out with police on Saturday night, while his younger brother, Noppon, or “Jib Paikiew”, was apprehended early Tuesday.

Human rights advocates who monitored the Thaksin government’s war on drugs have voiced concerns over the planned new nationwide campaign.

“The government should learn from the Thaksin government’s war on drugs in which about 2,600 drug suspects were killed,” said Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairwoman of the Working Group on Justice and Peace.

Ms Angkhana urged the public to monitor the new campaign very closely to ensure it abided by the law in dealing with drug suspects.

National Human Rights Commission member Niran Pithakwatchara said the government should focus on reducing demand for drugs rather than suppression.

The use of violence against drug suspects was not the right solution to the problem, Dr Niran said.

“We are afraid some authorities might misinterpret the anti-drug campaign to exert their power over innocent civilians,” the rights commissioner said.

Mr Suthep yesterday dismissed the concerns, offering an assurance that his campaign would be different from Thaksin’s drug war.

“This government will follow the law strictly in drug suppression operations,” the deputy prime minister said.

“We don’t support killing [of drugs suspects]. Why do we have to kill them?”

Mr Suthep said he would explain the government’s new scheme to senior police, military officers and drug enforcement officers at a meeting on Tuesday. .

The secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, Sureeprapha Traives, said the new campaign would focus on “quality rather than quantity”.

The agency would not set targets for the arrest of drug dealers and users or the seizure of drugs, she said.

The ONCB, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Customs Department would work closely to detect and confiscate suspicious assets acquired from the drug trade, she said.

Ms Sureeprapha said the situation was severe and there was a constant influx of drugs across the border from neighbouring countries. Many people who have been impoverished by the recent floods have turned to drug trafficking to make a living.

The director-general of the Corrections Department, Chartchai Sutthiklom, said the number of prisoners on drug charges had risen by between 10,000 and 20,000 a month since the beginning of the year and their numbers were rising steadily.

Col Charnchai Em-on, chief of staff of the army Surasakmontri task force based in Udon Thani, said the amount of drugs smuggled through the upper northeastern provinces had soared.

Smugglers had changed their routes after authorities had taken tough action against dealers in the North, he said.

Suthep sees good in Khon Kaen defeat

Posted by arnon_k On December - 13 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has expressed satisfaction with the result of the weekend by-election in Khon Kaen’s Constituency 2, even though the Democrat Party candidate lost to Puea Thai.

“In the last poll the Democrat candidate got only 7,000 votes, but we received more than 30,000 votes yesterday.

“This reflects that people in Isan [the Northeast] have benefitted from government policies and they have come to a correct understanding that the government is improving their lives,” the Democrat secretary-general said.

However, he said, the Democrats could not hope to win elections in the Northeast yet.

As for the prime minister’s conditions for dissolving the House and calling a general election, Mr Suthep said he did not oppose them and Mr Abhisit was firm on this issue.

“There have been claims that I’m in conflict with the prime minister but they are not true.

“I’m a deputy prime minister and when the prime minister gives an order, I’m ready to follow it,” Mr Suthep said.

Prime Minister Abhisit’s three conditions are:
1. The government needs time to address economic issues.
2. All sides must be satisfied with the election laws.
3. All political conflicts must end.

Suthep: Government ready for probe

Posted by arnon_k On December - 6 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The government is ready for inspection after the Puea Thai Party accused it of corruption, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Monday.

He made the comment after the opposition Puea Thai Party claimed that there were irregularities in 120 government’s projects.

“I believe Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would be ready to take action against the alleged corruption as the government has always been working in a transparent manner,” Mr Suthep said.

He said the government will prepare its two-year performance report.

He said people can criticise the government but the comments should not be distorted.

Deputy Prime Minister and Democrat Party secretary-generl Suthep Thaugsuban expressed confidence Monday morning that his party MPs would vote in support of the charter amendments.

He said he was certain that most Democrat MPs would vote in support of the Cabinet’s resolution to push for two points of charter amendments.

Asked whether he was confident that the amendments would not cause rifts in the Democrat and cause the coalition to collapse before its due time, Suthep said: “Yes, I am confident so.”

The government plans to amend the charter to lift the requirement for it to obtain parliamentary approval before signing contracts with foreign governments and to change multiple-seat constituency to single-seat constituency system.