Archive for the ‘Thailand’ Category

Down the alley 

Posted: January 22, 2017 in Thailand
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Away from the main road, a family takes a moment from work. Street vendors don’t appear to be doing well in the city. Not much for them to depend on with the poor economy and the increasing cost of living. 

Another day at work

Posted: January 22, 2017 in Thailand
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A taxi rider prepares for work. The mornings are routines, repetitive for the sake of his livelihood.

Things don’t look good for low-income workers in the city as household debts are increasingly and the economy sinks further into oblivion.

Little boy of blue 

Posted: January 22, 2017 in Thailand
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Through twisted narrow lanes and swaying shadows, a boy wanders deeper into a Bangkok slum.

Thailand, once again, confused partly by the purity of nationalist ideology and perhaps low self-esteem, is struggling with its own identity.

As reported by Aljazeera:

A Thai horror film about Buddhist monks has been banned over fears it could “destroy” the kingdom’s majority faith, authorities say.

The culture ministry on Tuesday objected to certain parts of the film Arbat, including a kissing scene and one where a monk is shown taking drugs.

The clergy have long been revered in overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand but in recent years have been rocked by scandals, including gambling and prostitution, as well as corruption at the increasingly wealthy temples propped by donations from the faithful.

“The movie has some scenes that will destroy Buddhism. If it is shown, people’s faith in Buddhism will deteriorate,” Somchai Surachatri, spokesman for Thailand’s National Office of Buddhism, told AFP news agency.

Hmm, and what about the PDRC leader cum “monk” Buddha Issara who wrecked the streets of Bangkok with his ultra fundamentalism? Did the faith of Thai Buddhists deteriorate? Seems the institutions of Thailand are not interested to take action against him for shaming Thai Buddhism, or perhaps, due to his hardliner views, they fear his persona?

In the six weeks since then the behavior of 56-year-old Buddha Issara, abbot of Wat Or Noi in the central Thailand province of Nakhon Pathom, has sunk to increasingly depraved levels with photos of him interrogating undercover police who were caught intelligence gathering at his rally site and who were dragged before him after being beaten by his “guards” widely circulated.

Just days after this he led hundreds of his supporters and attempted to check into a hotel owned by the Shinawatra family where ten rooms had been booked in his name and a deposit of Bt4,200 (about US$129) paid. When the hotel refused to honour his booking fearful the affect the presence of protesters would have on their business he refused to leave until he was compensated for the inconvenience and what he claimed were costs incurred by farmers in getting to the hotel from up-country.

Surrounded by his “guards”, some wearing bulletproof vests, he received Bt120,000 ($3,680) compensation which he was photographed counting (The Vinaya-pitika, the disciplinary code laid down by the Buddha for monks and nuns, disallows monks from touching or handling money) and which he said would be paid to farmers for wasted diesel and other costs.

Source: The Establishment Post

Thailand’s military government has issued an order to seize US$16 million ($30 million) in assets from ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra over a failed rice subsidy scheme for farmers.

A Thai court has also issued an arrest warrant for Ms Yingluck’s exiled brother Thaksin Shinawatra, after he failed to turn up for a defamation case filed against him by the army.

The moves intensify pressure on the powerful Shinawatra family whose parties have won every election since 2001 on a wave of policies that were popular with Thailand’s rural masses.

Since toppling Ms Yingluck’s democratically-elected government in a coup last year, the military has dismantled almost all of her family’s network in state institutions and side-lined its political allies.

Source: Thai junta plan to seize $30m from ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck wrote an open letter to general Prayuth on her Facebook about her views on the rice subsidy scheme and the junta’s action against her. Her complete statement:

Open Letter
To: General Prayuth Chan-ocha,
Head of the National Council for Peace and Order

I am writing an open letter to you because I haven’t had the opportunity to communicate with or meet you in person since you came into power as the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the Prime Minister over a year ago on 22 May 2014. Since then, I have been continuously mistreated related to the “Rice Subsidy Scheme”, which I had declared to the parliament on many occasions;

1. National Legislative Assembly (NLA) impeached and removed me from the position of Prime Minister although at the time I was not in that position because I had already resigned and also was disqualified of the position by the Constitutional Court.

2. The Attorney General held a press conference stating his decision to indict and prosecute me to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions just a mere “one hour” before NLA’s impeachment.

You may reject an issue and state that these are not relevant to your responsibility since these two matters are in the hands of the NLA and the Attorney General. However, the following matter will be in your direct authority.

Regarding the Order no.448/2558 signed by you and the Minister of Finance dated April 3rd, 2015 under the subject of “the Appointment of the Fact Finding Committee”, you have appointed a committee to find out whether anybody must be responsible to pay compensation to the government for the damages incurred from the Rice Subsidy Scheme. In this matter, you spoke to the press insisting that if someone was found responsible for damages, compensations must be claimed.

You also emphasized that “if the fact finding indicates that if someone is guilty, then the conclusion is guilty. If the fact finding suggests otherwise, then the conclusion would be not guilty. If guilty, the due process shall be followed in filing for civil claim. Single standard is applied for all parties to ensure justice in an equitable manner.”

I sincerely hope you assigned the Fact Finding Committee to investigate the case under due process of law to provide “Justice” and adhere strictly to the due process without any unnecessary acceleration to conclude the findings. I hope that you will ensure fair and just opportunity for related persons to present evidences.

I feel worried because one of your legal advisors had publicly stated that it was conducive to claiming damages in the civil case which would cost enormous court fees to the government although the way normally used to claim for damages and to bring the case to the court is the best way to maintain justice.

However, your legal advisor tried to “misinterpret the law and legal mechanism” to claim for damages by advising you to issue administrative order, forcing me to pay for damages and to seize my asset just to avoid the court fees. By exercising the Administrative Order, you do not even have to consult the cabinet. It means that you are using your power as if you were a judge while the criminal case trial is still under the legal process in court.

I am making this statement as the former Prime Minister who was in charge of the Rice Subsidy Scheme that was aimed at enhancing the living conditions of the Thai farmers, who are responsible for the production of our nation’s commodity. The scheme was also vital in addressing issues in the rice price and market mechanism. I performed my duties with the utmost dedication to ensure that it led to the economic and social advancement of the nation. The scheme was managed under the position of Chairman of National Rice Policy’s Committee during my term as it is with you in the same position today.

I believe all people are entitled to a fair trial in court which is fundamental to the rule of law. The Rice Subsidy Scheme was a public policy that was declared to the parliament and the implementation of the scheme was compulsory administrative act. The Scheme legally binds all related government departments to its execution.

Therefore, the claim process of civil charge must be transparent and fair. You, as the Prime Minister and as the Chairman of National Rice Policy Committee, are currently addressing rice issues in disagreement of my rice policy. This means that you are a “stakeholder” and cannot possibly offer “unbiased” views on the matter. Therefore, exercising the Prime Minister power as a judge to order a civil claim without the court’s decision is definitely against the rule of law.

To proceed in accordance to the rule of laws, I propose to you as follow:
1. Reconsider and terminate any executions regarding the Rice Subsidy Scheme’s civil claim proposed by your legal advisors and signed by the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Rice Policy Committee at the present which are unfair and is subject to conflicts of interest.

2. After the court’s ruling in the criminal case, the government should file a civil claim through the court in order to be just to the accused if found guilty.

3. The trial at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions is still not final. Your legal advisor stated that the case’s statute of limitation still have enough ongoing time. The government should not accelerate or shortcut the fact finding procedure for the case. To be fair and just, you should provide sufficient opportunities for related persons to testify and present their evidences. I have sent many requests to you and the Fact Finding Committee asking for the opportunity to present evidences but many requests have not been considered and examined.

Finally, I have asked my lawyer to submit the formal letter in this matter to you on Tuesday October 13th, 2015 at 10.00 a.m. at the government’s Information and Complaint Channel. I sincerely hope that when you receive this letter, you would not simply ignore it but consider my request in a just manner since you have always claimed that you will ensure equal justice for all.

Thank you.
Yingluck Shinawatra
Former Prime Minister of Thailand
12th October 2015

An angry crowd of about 500 people surrounded Thalang police station in Phuket on Saturday (Oct 10) to demand justice after two people were killed in a police chase.

About 700 police officers and military personnel have been dispatched from nearby Krabi and Phang Nga for reinforcement at the police station in Thalang, local news site Phuketwan reported.

At least five cars near the police station were reportedly set on fire as the protest continued.

Phuket Governor Chamreon Tipayapongthada is investigating the alleged deadly police chase that claimed the lives of the two victims – Prathomwat Panarak, 22, and a 17-year-old whose name has been withheld, according to Phuket News.

Source by Channel NewsAsia

Images from https://www.facebook.com/PataniPeaceful

So much for ‘happiness’ in junta-controlled Thailand.

My thoughts.

Community-based programs, NGOs and privately-run social initiatives are actively involved in areas where Thailand military government support is not sufficient. Often the junta-led “government” projects are cosmetic, and fail to provide much-need policy changes that would greatly improve quality of life.

However efforts are still being made in forging partnerships between NGOs and the government. It’s a fact that the role of an NGO is important especially in the rural parts of the country where poverty incidence is high.

One of my concerns is rural micro-finance programs implemented by NGOs and provincial/federal authorities. Such programs provide valuable services to the rural poor although I have yet to see indicators of accountability and transparency in the financial aspects of these programs. There’s also the issue of questionable deliverables (unachievable expectations, low capacity) and the late dispersement of monies to the stakeholders.

Core problems of social programming are often related to the lack of participation in democratic decision-making. Perhaps some NGOs and officials do not want to see an empowered marginalized community to make informed decisions and lobby for their rights. In this case, from the absence of their rights to a transparent process of not just the budget allocation but also to the conceptualization and project monitoring.

I once mentioned to someone from a reputable local “poverty eradication” NGO that its within their interest to encourage communities to be part and parcel of problem-solving in the programs. But rather than consider and consult the stakeholders about this issue, the officer was rather defensive about the state of affairs. Apparently foreigners do not understand ‘Thainess’ and as such have no business expressing my views. It could also be that he and his organization prefer the comfort zone of prescribing solutions to the communities, rather than consultation.

Anyway as the national economy plunges, its difficult to not come to the conclusion that corruption will increase and that marginalized communities will be extremely vulnerability; as flawed systems, pride and human greed override the original objective of community-service.

Economic growth can help reduce poverty through an increase in household income, providing earnings to obtain the minimum basic needs. That being said, equality and other rights-based concerns must be tackled by all parties to enable a reduction of poverty. I’m not so sure whether the junta realise this, or maybe they just don’t care. I wonder.