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Why I exercised my right to vote

Posted by pakin On August - 8 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

THE rule allowing people aged 18 to vote in the referendum has resulted in a number of young voters becoming eligible for the first time to decide whether they approve or disapprove of the charter draft. But 18-year-olds are not the only new players in this voting game.

For one aged 24, and having had the voting right for seven years, I never once stepped into a polling booth to cast a ballot – not until yesterday. Well, for one thing, I would say there had only been one election since I turned 18 until now.

That vote took place in 2011, following the red-shirt protests and brought Yingluck Shinawatra to power.Yingluck became Thailand’s first female prime minister.

The turn-out then was as high as 75 per cent thanks to the high tension between colour-coded factions competing against one another to bring to power their favoured political party.

But I was not one of them.

Back then, I was 19 years old, in college and far away from home. No, I did not have to pay some Bt2,000 for an airfare to go and vote at home. The state provided enough convenience such as voting outside the constituency and advance voting, encouraging the eligible to turn out. Still, I did not bother.

I did not feel I was part of the struggle between the two factions. I viewed politics and government as something very distant from me, which would not affect me, never mind who won the election.

As a member of a middle-class family with both parents working for the government, I cared neither about the universal healthcare scheme nor credit cards for farmers. And as a nerd who only paid attention to how to ace an exam, I was not very interested in killing an evil regime and backing a decent person to be a prime minister either.

Most importantly, I had zero faith that my vote would count for anything, that it would matter, that it would actually help shape the country. So, no, thank you. I’d rather let the chance pass.

There was another election in 2014, if it could be counted as one. Most people did not exercise their right because of tension and the possibility of violence breaking out. I am not going to lie. I did not think I would vote regardless of the political situation.

The same reasons as in 2011 still applied; I did not have faith that my ballot would mean anything. But things are different this year. I was determined to go the extra mile to vote because I am unhappy with the current regime that has been in power since the coup.

I may have little faith in politics but it does not take much faith anyway to believe that Thailand can definitely do better than what we have now.

So, yesterday I set my alarm clock for 6.30am and paid Bt20 for a motorcycle-taxi ride to a polling station for the first time since I turned 18, seven years ago, to vote.

By getting fingerprinted before voting, I am not sure whether the force of my impression would be enough to steer the country out of this mess. What I know is that by impressing the fingerprint I have relieved my bitter frustrations with the regime. I just hope they will not be around for too long.

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday vowed to continue her legal fight in the case stemming from her administration’s controversial rice-pledging scheme, in an interview to CNN.

“I stand firm to fight my case,” Yingluck told the CNN’s Saima Mohsin. “I have the duty and responsibility to fight on. All eyes are on me. I assure you I’ve never thought of fleeing.”

The ex-premier also said that the case against her was “totally bizarre”, as her scheme was aimed at helping the people. The problems were at the execution level, she said, and yet she was being prosecuted despite having been only a policy-maker.

Yingluck’s intention to stay and fight is unlike that of her brother, fugitive former prime minister ThaksinShinawatra, who was also overthrown in a coup in 2006. He was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison in a conflict-of-interest case and is living in exile, CNN said.

Yingluck, however, cannot leave the Kingdom, as she needs permission from the junta to travel overseas, CNN said.

Throughout the three-minute TV interview, Yingluckmostly insisted on her political intention and as previously expressed through Thai media, she called for more freedom of speech.

The ex-premier also recalled the scene after being toppled in a coup, how she dealt with it, and her experience during a “chat” at the invitation of the military.

“I was informed to stay calm, not to meet a [certain] group of people for a while, and not post it on Facebook,” she said.

Accompanied by her lawyer, Yingluck spoke cautiously and carefully during her first TV interview since the 2014 coup. CNN said, “She is certainly trying to raise her profile so as to not fade away from Thai political history.”

PM insulated from order on Yingluck damages

Posted by pakin On October - 15 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Wissanu say only endorsement from Finance minister needed to seek compensation over rice scheme

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha did not need to ink an administrative order to have ex-PM YingluckShinawatra pay compensation for losses over the rice pledging scheme as only an endorsement of the Finance Minister was needed, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.

Wissanu was speaking after Yingluck’s lawyer argued that the PM’s move to issue an administrative order to make Yingluck pay compensation might be deemed abuse of authority and motivated by politics.

Wissanu said legal specialists met half a month ago and resolved that the PM did not need to endorse the administrative order in the latter half of the legal procedures to make Yingluck pay compensation for damages incurred in the rice subsidy scheme.

“Article 5 of the Liability of Wrongful Act of State Official 1996 stipulates that when state officials who committed a wrongful act are not under the jurisdiction of any agency, the Finance Ministry will be in charge of the case. Yingluck is not under the jurisdiction of any ministry, so her case will be under the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, Wissanu said.

Wissanu defended against criticism that legal specialists were resorting to a legal tactic to prevent Prayutfrom being sued for abuse of power.

“We are not trying to protect the PM. Look into the law. The PM co-signs with the ministers in charge of the case only in the first half of the procedure and not the latter half. If General Prayut must sign but he fails to do so, then the order will be invalid. The PM has announced that if there is anything wrong, he will take responsibility,” Wissanu said.

Wissanu said the PM himself was taken by surprise when he learned he needed not to sign any more documentation.

He added that the government would continue with its decision to issue the administrative order in Yingluck’s case because if the government does not take action before the two-year statute of limitations expires, the National Anti-Corruption Commission would sue the government and make it pay the compensation for the losses over the rice subsidy.

Norawit Lalaeng dismissed a statement made by Wissanu that the government had no alternative but to take recourse under the Liability of Wrongful Act of State Official 1996 because Yingluck committed gross negligence over her handling of the rice pledging scheme.

He cited that the Charter Organic Law on Anti-Corruption Act 1999 did not specify which law must be applied to seek compensation.

FORMER prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra celebrated her 48th birthday yesterday by wishing for love, warmth and forgiveness among Thais.

I want to see the atmosphere in the country be warm, to see Thailand, the land of smiles, be full with love and warmth and everyone to be forgiving. If we have such an atmosphere, everyone will be happy. I wish everyone happiness,” she said after marking the day with a religious ceremony.

Yingluck joined her friends and family to make merit in the morning at Wat San Suk in Min Buri. She was also accompanied by members of the Pheu Thai Party, such as Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Poomtham Wechayachai and Karun Hosakul.

The abbot of the temple, Phra Kru Kosol Wimolkij, jokingly told her not to run off and he invited her to celebrate the naming of Wat San Suk as a royal temple.

Yingluck, who is facing a criminal case related to her administration’s rice-pledging scheme and could be jailed for up to two years, responded firmly that she would not run away and would join the celebration.

Asked if her brother, fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, had wished her a happy birthday, she said he called her and did so on Saturday.

“I’m now a full citizen. My normal life has resumed. I’m fairly happy. I have more time for myself and my family. I get some rest and meet old friends as well as exercise,” she said.

When Yingluck’s entourage arrived at the temple, they were welcomed by the temple’s members and other locals. They sang happy birthday and gave her flowers all the way to the ubosot.

Yingluck freed 3,000 birds to make merit and her supporters shouted that they wished she would become as free as the birds. A table was arranged by the supporters so that people could write birthday wishes and for the launch of the “Forever Yingluck” campaign, with pot plants featuring Yingluck’s picture being given away as gifts.

The supporters will take photos of themselves holding the pot plants and post them on Yingluck’s officialFacebook page. The campaign aims to boost the |number of “likes” on the page from three million to five million. The participants’ names will be randomly picked and they will be given souvenirs like the book “Think Like Yingluck”.

Meanwhile, Sansern Promjiak, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, yesterday announced the dates on which Yingluck and some of her former cabinet members must report to the NACC to acknowledge the charges they face over the alleged improper disbursement of compensation to red-shirt protesters.

The official letters have been sent to the accused and they must report to the NACC between June 9-30, he said.

He reiterated that so far no one had reported. Yingluck had requested and been given permission to delay reporting until June 30.

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