Suspected Patani Rebel Attacks Kill 4 in Thai South

Masked gunmen kidnapped and shot dead two policemen in Thailand’s Deep South, hours after insurgents were also suspected of detonating a bomb that killed a soldier and wounded two others near a local cemetery, officials said Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, unidentified gunmen shot dead a man in Pattani, one of the provinces in the Deep South, police said.

About eight men in balaclava masks barged into a teashop in Tambon Bukit in Cho I-rong, a district of Narathiwat province on Tuesday evening, and seized the two police officers who were having tea, police quoted witnesses as saying.

“It looked like the attackers dragged them down from a pickup truck, shot them at close range and pushed them into the ditch,” Col. Lukman Boko, chief of the Cho I-rong police station, told reporters.

The brazen abduction and killing of the lawmen was unusual even in Thailand’s volatile southern border region, where security personnel often are targeted randomly in roadside bombings.

“Each was found with bullet wounds to the body and the head,” Lukman said, referring to the policemen whose bodies were found early morning Wednesday about 200 yards from the teashop.

The dead cops were identified as Cpl. Nares Iedthong, 31, and Cpl. Ruswaidi Samae, 30.

“I believe the insurgents stalked the two policemen for some time for them to know that the officers were frequent customers at the teashop,” a police detective, who asked not to identified, told BenarNews. “It seems that they specifically targeted the police officers.”

The assailants, who fled in a stolen pickup truck, seized a rifle and two handguns from the officers who were in plain clothes, investigators said.

Continue reading BenarNews: Suspected Rebel Attacks Kill 4 in Thai Deep South

Voice TV wins court case over junta-controlled NBTC’s censorship bid

The Central Administrative Court on Wednesday ruled against an attempt by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to black out Voice TV for 15 days.

The court ordered the broadcasting and telecom regulator to scrap its 15-day blackout order, saying it found no evidence that the broadcaster’s two programmes, Wake Up Newsand Tonight Thailand, had featured “seditious and confusing” content.

The NBTC had failed to provide proof that the two shows had broadcast such damaging content. the court said.

The NBTC on Feb 13 ordered Voice TV Co to cease its TV broadcasts from midnight the same day, using its power under the Broadcasting Act. It claimed complaints had been filed regularly against Voice TV, and the station was found to have violated the law four times in 2015, 11 times in 2016, 10 times in 2017 and nine times in 2018.

Despite numerous warnings, the programmes continued to break the law, leading to the suspension, the NBTC said.

Two days later, the court issued an injunction against the order.

Voice TV chief executive officer Mekin Petplai welcomed the court’s ruling, saying it protected freedom of the press.

The station took the case to the court to set a standard that the state regulator should stay neutral in politics and respect freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The NBTC can appeal the ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court.

Mr Mekin said Voice TV stood ready for a fight if the state agency takes the case to a higher court.

Source Bangkok Post: Voice TV wins court case over NBTC’s blackout bid

Thai South: Ranger killed, another hurt in Yala bomb blast

A ranger was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in Banang Sata district on Tuesday morning while providing protection for teachers.

The bomb detonated at Ban Ubae village in tambon Bacho as a paramilitary ranger team was patrolling a local road around 9.25am.

One ranger died on the spot. The injured man was rushed to Bannang Sata Hospital.  There were no further details.

Pol Maj Gen Kritsada Kaewchandee, chief of Yala police, led police, soldiers and bomb disposal officers to the scene.

Police blamed insurgents, Thai media reported.

Source Bangkok Post: Ranger killed, another hurt in Yala bomb blast

Wife of disappeared Thai activist files report for missing husband

Around 11:00 on 25 February 2019, Pranee Danwattananusorn, 61, wife of disappeared political exile Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Saedan, filed a report with Pol Lt Gen Suksawat Bua-in, Deputy Superintendent of Tha Uthen District Police Station, since she believes that the body washed up at Ban Tha Champa, Tambon Tha Champa, Tha Uthen District, Nakhon Phanom Province on 26 December 2019 was that of Surachai, but the body then reportedly disappeared back into the Mekhong River. On 27 and 29 December 2019, two more bodies were found at Muang Nakhon Phanom District and at That Phanom District. These two bodies were subsequently identified as Kraidet Leulerd, or Kasalong, and Chatchan Bupphawan, or Phuchana, fellow exiles with Surachai, making it possible that the first body found was that of Surachai.

Continue reading Prachatai English: Where is Surachai? Wife of disappeared activist files report for missing husband

Pressure rises on Thai dictator Prayut to debate other PM candidates

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is coming under increasing pressure to take part in political debates with other prime ministerial candidates.

The People’s Network for Elections in Thailand (PNET), a non-governmental organization monitoring elections in Thailand, today posted a poem on its Facebook page calling for individuals, who aspire to become future leaders of Thailand, to have the courage to participate in political debates.

PNET did not mention the current Prime Minister and candidate for the pro-junta Palang Pracharat party by name, though his party has yet to respond to invitations to join live, nationally televised debates with the other candidates. Last week, Democrat party leader, former prime minister and candidate for the next premiership Abhisit Vejajiva challenged Prime Minister Prayut to join a debate.

Today, the Palang Pracharat party’s deputy leader Natthaphol Teepsuwan said he was confident that the current prime minister would participate in the debates, but the party would like to consult with the Election Commission first to ensure there would not be any legal issues if he were to do so.

The party’s spokesman, Mr. Kobsak Pootrakul, added that, as many people appear to want to find fault, his party wanted to make sure that it would be legal for a serving prime minister to help campaign for the party’s candidates.

Source Thai PBS

Thailand Prepares for Election 5 Years after Military Coup

Thais are scheduled to vote next month in a long-promised return to democracy after five years of military rule, amid concerns that legal changes put in place by the junta have prevented a truly free election.

Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and former Royal Thai Army chief who led the May 2014 overthrow of then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, has repeatedly promised to steer the country back on a democratic path, but critics say he has taken calculated steps to stage-manage the balloting scheduled for March 24.

“Even if polls go forward, this will not in any way be a free and fair election,” political analyst Zachary Abuza wrote in a recent column for BenarNews.

“This is as rigged as it gets.”

Some 14,000 candidates will be running for election next month. Seventy-one candidates have been nominated for prime minister, but analysts believe only four stand out among the pack: Prayuth of the Phalang Pracharat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party, Sudarat Keyuraphan of the Pheu Thai Party and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party.

But the real question is whether the opposition parties – those linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who now lives in exile with his sister Yingluck – can gather enough support to form a government, according to analysts.

Continue reading BenarNews

Pro-junta activist wants Thanathorn probe over ‘false’ biography

Srisuwan Janya, secretary of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, said on Sunday he will submit a petition to the Election Commission, calling for the agency to investigate whether Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkij has violated the election law after inaccurate information in his biography was published on the party’s website.

Mr Srisuwan said the petition will be submitted to the EC on Monday at 10am.

He said that according to information published on the Future Forward website, Mr Thanathorn was president of the Federation of Thai Industry between 2008-2012. The information was incorrect because in fact the Future Forward leader was president of the Nakhon Nayok chapter of the federation during the time.

The inaccurate information appeared on the party’s website for over five months and also appeared on the crowd-sourced Wikipedia website. Although the false information was later removed, he argued, it had already been widespread in the public domain.

Since the information was visible to the public while the royal decree on the election was in effect, Mr Srisuwan said the false information could be construed as intended to entice votes for the party’s candidates in violation of Section 73 (5) of the Election Act of 2018.

If found guilty of violating the law, Mr Thanathorn could be liable to a jail term of 1-10 years. a fine of 20,000-200,000 baht, or both. He could also be banned from elections for 20 years, Mr Srisuwan said.

Since legal experts have debated whether Mr Thanathorn broke the law intentionally, it would be best for the EC to gather evidence and ask a court to make a ruling on the case to set a legal precedent, he added.

Mr Thanathorn has said the statement in his biography on the website that he was the national chairman of the Federation of Thai Industry, rather than just the Nakhon Nayok chapter, was an unintentional editing error.

Mr Srisuwan said he will also submit another petition for the EC to investigate whether Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the Future Forward Party, had violated Section 73 (5) of the Election Act for saying on his Facebook page that “state officials have collaborated with some groups of news media to produce material that portrayed northeastern people as being buffoons and uneduated.”

The post may be construed as using false information to insult people, he said.

Source Bangkok Post: Activist wants Thanathorn probe over ‘false’ biography