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Democrats, Pheu Thai wary of new panel for peace

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Democrats-Pheu-Thai-wary-of-newpanel-for-peace-30276747.html

POLITICS

DEMOCRAT Party secretary general Juti Krairiksh suggested yesterday that the government should study reports of reconciliation panels appointed by previous governments.

Juti was responding to a move by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to appoint a special committee to boost peaceful society and resolve conflicts.

Juti suggested that the committee must find out the root cause and what prompted irreconcilable disputes in society. He criticised the government’s method of inviting both sides of political rivals to meet at the table, saying often it was not attacking the root of the problem.

“Reconciliation comes from a heart that forgives and forgets the past – not from law enforcement or social measures,” he said.

“The government might not be able to yield to demands from everyone because of legal restrictions.”

The Pheu Thai Party also opposed the move by the NLA but suggested that Prime Minister PrayutChan-o-cha resort to Article 44 to bring about reconciliation and amnesty.

Juti said he disagreed with giving amnesty to rally leaders who masterminded the burning down of the country and he believed Thais disapproved of amnesty to those who committed corruption.

“The wound is already dried up, why should we try to break open old wounds?” he said.

Juti suggested that the NLA’s special panel look into the reports by the National Reconciliation Commission, chaired by former-prime minister Anand Panyarachun and the Truth for Reconciliation Commission by Kanit na Nakorn.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday refused to speak in detail about a |/8reconciliation and peace promotion committee designed by the NLA.

“It’s not time to talk about it [the committee] now,” Prayut said during his weekly press briefing.

Government Spokesperson Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd admitted that the premier mentioned the committee during the meeting but refused to elaborate.

“I can only say it would be better if there was discussion before taking any action,” Sansern said.

“Let us be reminded that we’re now still working together as the five rivers of power,” he added, referring to the Cabinet, the NLA, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), and the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA).

Asked if PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuwattana had said on Monday the government would support and cooperate with the NLA, the spokesperson replied “We’re not opposing it. It would just be better with discussion beforehand.”

Controversial article to remain in new charter

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Controversial-article-to-remain-in-new-charter-30276748.html

AN ARTICLE prohibiting the overthrow of the country’s constitutional monarchy and the grabbing of power through unconstitutional means, which almost got the Pheu Thai Party dissolved in 2013, will remain in the new constitution despite talk about it being the source of conflict.

This time around, the drafters did not include the party-dissolution penalty in the article, though it will be included in a related organic law instead, Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) spokesman Udom Rathamarit said.

A similar article known as Article 68 was included in the 2007 Constitution. It prohibited individuals from exercising the rights and liberties prescribed in the charter to overthrow a democratic government with the King as head of state or acquire power to rule the country by any means that are not in accordance with the modes provided in the charter.

In 2013, Pheu Thai almost got dissolved for allegedly trying to grab power through unconstitutional means as it proposed to amend the charter on the origins of senators.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the party should cease as it was violating Article 68, and thereafter the article began to be deemed by many as a prime source of conflict.

However, the difference between the 2007 article and the one in the new draft is that the new charter stipulates that all cases must be submitted to the prosecutor-general before they are taken to the Constitutional Court within 30 days. The court can then order the cessation of the act.

The CDC also resolved to create a chapter on “state duties” that the government will have to comply with or face penalties. The punishment, however, will be stipulated in a related organic law, said the spokesman.

“State Duties” is the fifth chapter of the new charter, which Udom said had been adapted from the “Directive Principles of Fundamental State Policies” chapter of the 2007 Constitution.

The draft charter covers 12 duties that the government must fulfil, including being financially disciplined. Udom explained that this would help stop the government from mindlessly promoting populist policies at the expense of the country’s treasury.

Apart from that, regarding the fourth chapter of the draft, “Duties of the Thai People”, the spokesman said drafters had agreed to turn the power of exercising electoral rights freely into a duty.

He elaborated that the term “duty” meant there would be consequences when not fulfilled. For instance, a person could lose the right to run in elections or lose the right to petition for the passing of a law, he said.

Yesterday was the second day of the CDC’s retreat in Phetchaburi’s Cha-am district. The drafters have finished writing at least 65 articles covering five chapters of the draft, though the press was not allowed to observe the discussion.

PM says govt ready to cooperate with the OIC

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/PM-says-govt-ready-to-cooperate-with-the-OIC-30276749.html

SOUTH CRISIS

 

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, yesterday that his government was willing to cooperate with the OIC on all matters with the exception of violence in the deep South.

Thailand has expertise in various fields such as healthcare, agriculture, food security and the halal industry, Government Spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak quoted Prayut as telling the OIC chief after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Madani praised the government for its efforts to solve the conflicts in the predominantly Muslim Southern region via political means and dialogue.

Prayut told Madani that his government had a dual-track strategy to promote development in the area as well as promote peace talks with the insurgents.

The peace process has three phases: building trust, creating a code of conduct to cut down on confrontations, and building a consensus around the road map to peace, Weerachon said.

Prayut told reporters before meeting the OIC chief that he was not aware that the Mara Patani group had met with Madani in Malaysia to discuss peace solutions for the deep South. The Mara Patani group surfaced to explore possibilities of peace negotiations with the government recently.

Thai authorities are struggling to contain violence in the deep South that flared up in 2004, claiming more than 5,000 lives since. The OIC has occasionally criticised previous Thai governments for their treatment of the Muslim minority in the South.

“I’ve already had principles in my head. Don’t talk to me if you don’t have any principles. We can’t manage the issue on our own,” Prayut said. “How many lives have been lost [because of the insurgency]? No amount of money is worth their lives.”

The two sides also discussed the issue of Rohingya people who have been trafficked to Thailand frequently over the past years. The government promised to tackle the problem at its root cause and will take human rights into account, Weerachon said.

 

Wissanu to oversee evaluation of state bodies

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Wissanu-to-oversee-evaluation-of-state-bodies-30276750.html

IN A step towards national administrative reform, an intensive evaluation programme will be applied to high-ranking officials to ensure they work to their full potential, Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam came up with the idea and it is his responsibility to report his plan and details to the Cabinet, Sansern said.

Starting at the “highest speed” on April 1, the evaluations will end up being considered during the annual reshuffle of government officials in October. It would also affect decisions on whether to expand or dissolve certain agencies, he said.

However, Sansern said, the government would have to determine evaluation guidelines for agencies, and will include points such as the agency’s ability to carry out both functional and special work in line with specific government priorities, such as Pracha Rat (state of the people) schemes. The guidelines would also assess agencies’ efficiency in working at local levels, he said.

To keep up with the global community, he said, the government would also adopt international indices as part of the evaluation of related agencies, for instance indices provided by the World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Wissanu plans to work on the evaluation programme with agencies, Sansern said, namely the Civil Service Commission on human resources, the Public Sector Development Commission on personnel systems, the Bureau of the Budget on budget management, the National Economic and Social Development Board on action planning and Kritsada Boonrat, permanent-secretary to the Interior Ministry on local management.

The evaluation would cover not only senior civil servants, he said, but also the heads of state enterprises and public organisations, local administrators and Thai envoys under the ranks of C10 or C11.

Officers with lower ranks will be evaluated by their director-generals, he added, with frameworks and timelines in line with plans taken up by upper-ranking officers.

Sad tale of the rubber farmers: plunging prices and deaf politicians

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Sad-tale-of-the-rubber-farmers-plunging-prices-and-30276751.html

BURNING ISSUE

PARA rubber has been much politicised

The price of a commodity like rubber is supposed to be adjusted in accordance with market mechanisms, based on a world market. But it becomes politicised when farmers call on governments to intervene in the price whenever the level drops. In fact, the rubber sector was regulated by the Rubber Authority of Thailand, a juristic entity under the rubber laws. The Bangkok-based RAOT was authorised to manage the whole system of rubber production and rubber funding, as well as stabilise the rubber price in the domestic market.

By the book, that meant governments did not need to do anything about a plummeting price. It was the duty and responsibility of the RAOT to respond to the problem. It had a fund to help poor farmers who might be in trouble when the price was fell – or production dropped due to bad weather or disaster.

Unfortunately, a free market did not work well and politicians, elected or not, knew better about how to manipulate the commodity for their personal gain.

More than 60 per cent of rubber plantations are in the South. Trading and pricing are mostly determined in the southern markets. The South is also a major stronghold of the Democrat Party. People in the South have been voting solidly for the Democrats for decades. The party exploits this support from southerners’ for its gain, while Democrat politicians remain involved in rubber market and trading.

When Suthep and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee staged a series of political protest in Bangkok aiming to topple the government under Yingluck Shinawata in late 2013 and early 2014, he gained mass support from southerners, mostly rubber farmers.

The average price of rubber during Yingluck’s administration was Bt70-80 per kilogram. Yingluckneeded to do nothing as the price was relatively high due to strong demand from China and the rocketing price of oil — a substitute material for rubber. Indeed, at the beginning of her administration the price for rubber was over Bt100 per kilogram. Suthep and the PDRC then demanded the Yingluck government raise the price to more than Bt100 per kilogram. For political purposes, Yingluck injected funds to subsidise the farmers, but failed to satisfy them, as the objective of the protest was to unseat the PM, not lift the rubber price.

Rubber farmers in those days were in difficulty as the economy was dropping. Rubber plummeted due to its sluggish price in the world market as petroleum was also heading down and the Chinese economy — the main importer of Thai rubber – was slowing.

The average price for rubber these days is just Bt 20-30 per kilogram.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the coup leader who helped Suthep and rubber farmers to toppleYingluck from her position, came to power at a bad time for them. And, there was further bad luck, as Prayut and his crew knew little about economic management and commodity markets. His deputy Prawit Wongsuwan – who probably can’t distinguish between rubber and other trees – promised to raise the price to more than Bt80 per kilogram within one year after taking power. The price has never risen. It has gone down and down while the government’s measures have failed to raise prices by a single baht.

Rubber farmers and tappers cried and cried until their tears came near to blood. Some committed suicide, hanging themselves from rubber trees to send a deadly message to the people in power, notably their beloved Democrat politicians in their constituencies, to find solutions to help them.

Some wanted to stage rallies to push demands on the military government and called on Suthep for help. They failed in their attempts to stage the demonstrations, as the military government threatened to arrest them. Suthep even told them not to come out in protest as the government was working to help them.

But the government has no essential measures to offer them since the rubber farmers and Democrats have apparently lost their political power to pressure the regime. Unfortunately, our leaders don’t seem to realise that fact.

Draft to authorise media censorship during emergency situations

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Draft-to-authorise-media-censorship-during-emergen-30276756.html

NEW CHARTER

CHARTER DRAFTERS yesterday agreed to make provisions in the draft constitution to boost the government’s power to censor media during emergency situations.

An article in the new draft will stipulate that the prohibition against authorities’ scrutinising news reports before publication will be lifted if the country is under martial law or a state of emergency. This would be an extension of the previous charter’s stipulation that allowed government censors such powers only during war.

Constitution Drafting Commis-sion (CDC) spokesman Udom Rathamarit said that drafters had no intention of limiting media freedom.

In an emergency situation, authorities reserved the right to screen any news article or report, Udom said, adding that drafters had decided to enshrine the provision in the charter for the sake of clarity.

“The media should be aware that when the country faces an irregular situation, they should cooperate with the state. They cannot claim the right to freedom of expression and complicate the situation further,” Udom said.

The drafters have also stipulated that state-run media should report news in line with their mission. Udom conceded that the media should have freedom to do their work but the question remained whether they should serve their offices and their purposes too.

Manop Thip-Osod, spokesperson of Thai Journalists Association (TJA), expressed concern about the additional provisions, saying they could have a negative impact on the freedom and reputation of both the Thai media and of the whole country.

“It [the stipulation] cannot solve the problem. We have to wait and see if members of the international community have any stance on this,” said Manop, who is also vice president on press freedom and media reform at the TJA.

Mana Treelayapewat, dean of the Faculty of Communication Arts, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, warned the CDC against restricting media freedoms. He said it was not necessary to enshrine such provisions in the charter because media understood their responsibilities during previous situations that led to the declaration of martial law.

More importantly, the international community may question the country’s media freedom. “This issue is worrying,” Mana said.

He did not rule out the possibility that elected governments would use media censorship to stifle political rallies.

“We can see that when previous governments failed to control the political situation [during protests], they declared martial law. If this is the case, media freedom would be restricted,” he said.

Mana called on the CDC to explain the necessity for such provisions in the charter draft.

Meanwhile, the CDC has barred the media from the second day of its meeting in Cha-am to draft the charter article by article.

The media was allowed to attend the meeting’s opening day on Monday. CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan had earlier said the media would be allowed to attend the meeting to observe the drafting of some provisions.

Udom said a press conference would be held twice a day, at 10am and 3pm.

Some CDC members felt uncomfortable expressing opinions in the presence of journalists, Meechai explained, adding that media would regain access only when some provisions are being drafted.

A source said some CDC members were concerned about how the media may present some sensitive issues, which may have negative repercussions if some issues are distorted or misunderstood.

“Nowhere in the world is such a meeting fully open to the media,” the source said.

Meechai had earlier planned to hand over articles drafted to the media at the end of the day, but some CDC members raised concerns that there could be public misunderstanding if some provisions were altered. No decision has been made on whether the media should get the first draft of each Article.

Charter will not contain crisis panel: Alongkorn

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Charter-will-not-contain-crisis-panel-Alongkorn-30276660.html

Alongkorn

ALONGKORN Ponlaboot, vice president of National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), said yesterday the new constitution will not include a crisis panel like the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Committee to help drive reform.

Alongkorn was speaking while visiting the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), which is on retreat in Cha-am in Phetchaburi. He submitted the NSRA’s proposals for the constitution.

He said the main focus of the proposals was for the CDC to ensure the charter contained an organic law that made sure that reform work continues.

Alongkorn said the NSRA also wanted the 11-point reform plan to be included in the charter draft in line with Articles 27 and 35 of the 2014 interim constitution. He added that the NSRA did not specify how the reform agenda should be put in the draft.

But he said it was not necessary for a whole chapter to be devoted to reform. The CDC could stipulate reform requirements in various articles and chapters.

Alongkorn said it was up to the CDC to decide if a mechanism or a panel was included in the charter to steer reform, but he did not think there would be anything like the controversial crisis panel.

Wissanu admits reconciliation efforts sluggish

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Wissanu-admits-reconciliation-efforts-sluggish-30276662.html

POLITICS

DEPUTY Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam conceded yesterday that the government had been sluggish in national reconciliation efforts, saying some work had been deliberately delayed.

“We’ve done as many things as we could. Some work couldn’t be completed, while some need to be prolonged a bit so that people would not learn about [the details] too early and reject them,” he said, adding that he could not elaborate.

PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvadhana yesterday reported to various reform committees and members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) regarding the government’s progress towards reconciliation and the agenda for its remaining 18-month term.

Suwaphan also confirmed that reconciliation efforts were principally the responsibility of Wissanu’s central steering committee, the Interior Ministry and the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). He added, however, that the government acknowledged the NLA’s recent proposal to set up its own special committee for reconciliation and the promotion of peace, and would collaborate with its efforts.

Akanit Muensawat, the NLA member who initiated the idea for the special committee, said he would float his proposal during the NLA whip meeting today, and the issue would be considered further by the assembly later in the week.

The special committee would act as a platform for people who held different opinions to express their concerns in a bid to solve persistent problems, Akanit said.

Under Akanit’s proposal, the committee would consist of 24 members, including 14 NLA members and 10 others coming from key political camps such as the former People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD); the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC); activist monk Phra Buddha Issara’s group; the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD); and academic and business blocs.

Once established, the special committee would have 180 days to receive input from all parties, Akanit said, with the first meeting set for Friday when members’ roles and the initial framework would be defined.

If the NLA committee can agree on solutions for reconciliation, it will submit its findings to the junta for further proceedings, Akanit said.

“It depends on participation from all sides on whether we can achieve a peaceful society … We’re ready to invite all [parties] to inform and provide us with as many opinions as possible,” Akanit said, responding to criticism that a separate NLA committee would not serve a useful purpose.

Alongkorn Ponlaboot, vice president of the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), said yesterday that he backed the NLA’s plan for the “peace promoting” commission.

He said the idea should be supported but “no matter what form [the commission] takes, every party must agree that they want reconciliation to happen”.

“We cannot just write a law to make people harmonise when their minds are not set on it,” Alongkorn said.

He added that the reconciliation should be created at two separate levels, including promoting dialogue and bridging the gaps between parties.

Everyone should first have the common national goal of getting over conflict, Alongkorn said, adding that action had to be taken before the next election or history would repeat itself with new protests and political battles.

He said the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties should engage in dialogue because they shared common ground in desiring reconciliation.

The NLA is a suitable choice to initiate the peace-building commission because it is not a stakeholder in former conflicts, Alongkorn said.

Suthep Thaugsuban, chairman of the People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF), the successor to the former PDRC protest group, said he supported the establishment of the special committee and his group would join if invited.

However, UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan said that his group would not join the committee because it would be powerless. The only real authority to achieve reconciliation, Jatuporn added, belonged to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Court rejects Thaksin’s request for injunction

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Court-rejects-Thaksins-request-for-injunction-30276663.html

Thaksin

THE Central Administrative Court has rejected former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s request for an injunction in a case he filed against two senior Foreign Ministry officials who ordered the revocation of his two Thai passports.

The court said there was insufficient ground to grant an injunction as the plaintiff could not prove the revocation had caused him damage.

On December 8, Thaksin had his lawyer Wattana Tiangkul file a case against the director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Affairs Department and the ministry’s permanent secretary. The officials cited security reasons when they invalidated Thaksin’s two passports in May last year after he strongly criticised the military coup.

Though the court decided to reject Thaksin’s request on December 28, it only disclosed its ruling yesterday. A copy of the court order was obtained by The Nation.

Meanwhile, Thaksin’s lawyer said yesterday the lawsuit against the two officials would continue as normal, adding that the defendants would submit their testimony before the court begins its fact-finding task.

Drafters cut Article 7, give crisis powers to top court

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Drafters-cut-Article-7-give-crisis-powers-to-top-c-30276664.html

Charter draft also includes strict new limitations on state media freedoms.

THE Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) removed the highly controversial Article 7 from the draft charter yesterday as the commission entered its final week of work.

Article 7 stated that tradition should prevail during times of constitutional deadlock. The drafters agreed that the relevant powers should instead be transferred to the charter’s chapter on courts.

A similar article has been used several times in the past to resolve political deadlock by allowing a royally appointed prime minister to end conflicts.

The CDC expressed the opinion that it was inappropriate that the revered Royal institution would make such a decision, so power was transferred to the Constitutional Court to make the final judgement in cases of deadlock.

The drafters finished at least 40 articles covering the first three chapters of the draft, and 50 additional articles were expected to be completed each day during the first part of the week.

The last days would be saved for the most difficult issues, said spokesman Udom Rathamarit.

The CDC is on retreat in Cha-am to put final touches on the draft charter, which was about 90 per cent complete at the beginning of the week.

The CDC is also working on provisions that could include a ban on political office holders from owning media businesses.

The provisions would also ban members of independent organisations from owning media businesses and stipulate that media owners must be Thai citizens.

The charter would require that state media outlets reveal their sources of contributions and financing to the Auditor-General’s Office.

The provision also stipulates that media working for government agencies must comply with state objectives.

That stipulation contradicts Article 46 of the constitution of 2007, which allowed media employees of state agencies the same editorial freedom as that enjoyed by media outlets in the private sector.

A CDC source said the move was aimed at preventing state media from using state funds against the government.

The CDC also removed provisions similar to those stipulated by Article 46, which banned political office holders, state officials and media owners from directly or indirectly blocking news coverage on public issues.

The CDC included further restrictions by stipulating that content would be subject to government review during states of emergency or martial law, and not just during times of war.

Nanthana Nanthawaropass, dean of political communications at Krirk University, opposed the move to restrict freedoms and liberty of media professionals working under state agencies.

“If the media is not given freedom of expression, people in the country also enjoy no such freedom,” she said.

The media must serve the public as a watchdog and not serve the government, she said.

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