Southern Thai Politicians Campaign in Malaysia

The newly founded Prachachart Party became the first to campaign abroad when members went to Malaysia on Thursday to reach out to Thai laborers.

Party secretary general Thawee Sodsong, a police colonel who once led the National Security Agency, visited the capital of the southern Malaysian state of Johor to speak to some 400 Thai-Malay Muslim migrant workers about how their policies could improve their livelihoods.

In Malaysia, Thai restaurants – sold at what are called “tom yum goong” eateries – are popular and many migrant Thai workers either own or work at them. Tens of thousand Thai workers, both legal and illegal, make a living in Malaysia.

Continue reading Khaosod English: Southern Thai Politicians Campaign in Malaysia

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Political chaos tipped as Thai junta keen to stay

More signs of political unrest have emerged in the run-up to the Feb 24 general election, with pundits now anticipating further political disruptions after the poll.

One key factor is the growing belief that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will attempt to keep its grip on power, they told Bangkok Post when asked to predict and assess the political situation after the election.

This has been heavily commented on since the 2016 constitutional referendum, which won the overwhelming support of the public and justified the charter-drafting body’s move to write a provisional clause requiring that 250 senators must be picked by the NCPO. This is seen as the body’s first step to secure power after the election, they said.

A number of controversial conditions were then added to the provisional clause.

One of these says the Senate is authorised to vote to choose the next prime minister, while another grants it the power to direct the new government to follow the military regime’s national strategies and reform guidelines, critics said.

That means the pro-regime camp will likely require 376 parliamentary seats to support its bid to choose the prime minister. However, it has since moved to establish the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) to help advance its cause.

Four cabinet ministers later joined the party as executives, while Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s name figured prominently in discussions of which candidate the party would pick to run on its ticket for a democratically elected premier.

They said these developments benefit the PPRP by helping it to attract more former MPs. However, the PPRP’s fledgling success has sown division among various parties. They are now divided into two camps: pro-regime and pro-democracy.

The camps are now embroiled in a political game as they try to figure out how to win the election and what to do afterwards.

Continue reading Bangkok Post: Political chaos tipped as NCPO keen to stay

Junta-controlled Election Commission to check social media, internet posts

The Election Commission (EC) yesterday welcomed a proposal for the poll agency to monitor use of social media platforms during the election campaign and curb misleading or false information in a timely fashion.

Disinformation in online election campaigns was among key issues raised by parties during their meeting with the EC yesterday. The commission is finishing campaign regulations to be issued when a royal decree announcing the general election is published in the Royal Gazette.

Several parties called on the poll agency to set up a “war room” to monitor the use of social media and take prompt action to avert damage from slanderous and false information spread online. They wanted the EC to deal with misleading information and fake news.

Some suggested that online election campaigns should be wrapped up three days ahead of the polls. Normally parties and candidates are not allowed to engage in vote canvassing after 6pm on the eve of election day.

Representatives from small parties said the EC should also provide support for campaigns on social media. However, some said the use of social media should be limited to party policy platforms only.

However, a number of participants called for a total ban on the use of social media in the campaign because it was hard to regulate while the damage caused by false political messages would be massive.

EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said yesterday the EC would look into the idea of setting up a task force to respond to abuse of social media to slander political opponents.

Continue reading Bangkok Post: EC to check social media posts

DSI pursues Krungthai suspects but strangely fails to prosecute Uttama Savanayana

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is preparing to seek warrants for the arrest of two suspects in the Krungthai Bank (KTB) loan scandal after they failed to report to prosecutors on Wednesday.

“If the suspects are found attempting to escape indictment, the DSI will ask the court to approve arrest warrants for them,” DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang said.

Suspects Kanchanapa Honghern and her husband Wanchai Honghern failed to report to prosecutors to hear indictments against them on Wednesday.

They did not provide reasons for their absence.

Ms Kanchanapa is secretary to Khunying Pojaman na Pombejra, ex-wife of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The DSI was responsible for the probe into the high-profile money laundering case.

Ms Kanchanapa, her husband Mr Wanchai, and Manop Divari, the father of former Pheu Thai MP Sita Divari are suspects in the KTB loan scandal.

They are the alleged recipients of cheques tied to the wrongfully approved KTB loans.

Continue reading Bangkok Post: DSI pursues Krungthai suspects

Thai Police to Summon Rappers Who Criticized Military Regime

A group of rappers that released a song lambasting the junta earlier this week may have broken the law, a deputy police chief said Friday.

Deputy police chief Pol. Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said there’s a “50 percent chance” the song “My Country’s Got” (“Prathet Ku Mee“) by Rappers Against Dictatorship may have violated a junta order. Srivara did not elaborate on what order the song could have breached. In the 5-minute piece, the group of 10 take turns mocking and criticizing the junta’s rule.

“Let me warn musicians to not do anything risky against the laws because it won’t be good for you and your family if it’s found that there was wrongdoing,” Srivara said.

He added that police would summon the rappers and that they were investigating the matter. Some junta critics have been charged with sedition since the May 2014 coup. The YouTube music video had been watched more than 840,000 times by Friday morning.

Continue reading Khaosod English: Police to Summon Rappers Who Criticized Military Govt

Former Thai PM Yingluck sets conditions for Democrat trio to end defamation case

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has demanded three Democrat Party members keep their apology statement on Facebook until the day the Supreme Court reads out the final ruling.

The former prime minister sued Thepthai Senapong, Chavanont Intarakomalyasut and Sirichok Sopha in 2014 for defaming her with remarks aired on the Sai Lor Fa television programme on the Democrat-affiliated Bluesky channel on Feb 10 and 15, 2012 about her visit to the Four Seasons Hotel for a private meeting earlier that month.

The Criminal Court sentenced the three former MPs to one year in jail, suspended for two years, and a fine of 50,000 baht. The Appeal Court upheld the ruling in 2016. The Supreme Court ordered them to meet on Oct 19 for the final reading.

On Friday, Mr Sirichok posted an open letter on behalf of the three apologising Yingluck for their behaviour on his Leky Sopha Facebook account.

Their uncharacteristic move initially surprised everyone since they had always been vocal critics of the Shinawatra family. Later, speculation was rife they did so because at stake was their political career. If the Supreme Court hands down a jail term, they will not be able to run as MPs under the Section 98 of the 2017 constitution, which bans those imprisoned by a final court ruling from running 10 years after they have served time.

Continue reading Bangkok Post: Yingluck sets conditions for Democrat trio to end defamation case