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May 2015 : NCPO Scored 8.15 of 10 after One Year

  • NCPO scored 8.15 of 10 after one year coup.
  • Yingluck got bail from rice pledge scheme case
  • NLA voted to impeach Boonsong over G-2-G deal
  • NLA impeached former ministers-officer over rice trading corrupt
  • NACC accused former deputy education minister of unusually rich
  • NLA passed bankruptcy bill after 3rd reading
  • Cabinet endorsed new tobacco bill
  • Provident Fund Bill passed third reading
  • NACC to indict Yingluck- former cabinet members
  • Anti-Pornography Bill enacted
  • NLA passed Public Assembly Bill
  • Irregular migration in the Indian Ocean
  • A committee to oversee San Sap canal
  • Draught caused farm household income to drop sharply
  • GDP deceased due to draught
  • Earthquake struck Phang-nga

    NCPO scored 8.15 of 10 after one year coup

    On 22nd May, Suan Dusit poll revealed its result surveyed on people opinion with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) from a sampling of 1,191 people across the country conducted on May 18-23 under an initiative entitled "What aspects are people happy and disappointed with after the NCPO running the country for one year?"

    86 per cent were most satisfied with the NCPO for bringing about peace and order, 80 per cent were happy with their decisive and swift action, 73 per cent were content with their suppression on graft, 68 per cent gave the junta a thumps-up for cracking down on mafias and 63 per cent for paying farmers over the rice-pledging scheme.

    Around 80 per cent were not happy with the junta's economic management, especially its failure to stem price rises and the high cost of living; 79 per cent were disappointed with its agricultural policies, rice and rubber prices, while 77 per cent were dissatisfied with continued violence in the deep South, 68 per cent were not happy with foreign states' lack of confidence in the country, 59 per cent were not happy with slow progress in major cases such as the Paragon bomb attack and a notorious double murder that took place on Koh Tao.

    The poll assessed people who were disappointed and those who were happy with the junta. Some 59 per cent were more satisfied than disappointed, saying the country was peaceful and had effective administration, while 26 per cent were equally happy and unhappy about the junta's performance because it had both advantages and drawbacks, and a further 13 per cent were more disappointed than happy, saying the junta failed to solve economic problems and foreign countries were not confident about the coup-installed government.

    Asked what makes the current coup-installed government better than the previous elected government, 83 per cent said the coup-installed government was better because it is decisive and swift, 69 per cent said it was honest, and 64 per cent said it has effective public relations.

    On an overall opinion, NCPO was scored 8.15 out of 10.

    Yingluck got bail from rice pledge case

    On 19th May, the Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders, which held its first hearing, released the ex-PM from Pheu Thai party on bail of Bt30 million - on condition that she must not leave the country without the court's permission.

    The charges against her are based on Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 123/1 of the Anti-Corruption Act.

    Yingluck faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of dereliction of duty over her role in the controversial rice-subsidy scheme that cost a state loss of more than Baht 500 billion.

    She was presented at the Court after her request to conduct the trial with the accused in absentia was rejected and the Court also ordered her to be presented at every hearing.

    However, the court allowed her to submit written testimony on July 3.

    NLA voted to impeach Boonsong over G-2-G deals

    On 8th May the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted to impeach former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom, former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol and former director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade Manas Soiploy over corrupt rice export deals. The votes were more than three-fifth, or 132, as required by the Law.

    Previously, the National Anti-Corruption Council (NACC) accused the three of fabricating deals in a total of 1.2 million tons rice sold from the state stockpile in 2013. The deals were made on Government-to-Government basis at lower than market prices on condition that it must be totally exported. From its investigation later, NACC found the Chinese firms, Guangdong Stationery & Sporting Goods Imp. & Exp. Corp. and Hainan Grain and Oil Industrial Trading Company were not acting in behalf of the Chinese government and in turn sold the stock back to Thailands local rice trading company Siam Indica.

    Former deputy education minister found unusually rich

    The National Anti-Corruption Commission has found former deputy education minister Somsak Prissanananthakul "unusually rich" after he failed to clarify the source of money for building his Bt16 million-worth house in Angthong's Wiset Chaircharn district. The house was built between 1998 to 2001 while he was in office.
    The NACC will ask the Office of Attorney General to charge Somsak in the Supreme Court's Criminal Tribunal for Holders of Political Office.

    NLA passes bankruptcy law in final reading

    On 28th May, the National Legislation Assembly, in the final reading , unanimously passed an amendment to the bankruptcy law with 167 votes and four abstentions. The amendment was a revised of the Bankruptcy Act BE 2483 (1940) and has principles to shorten case procedures and make it easier for creditors to get payment as well as empowers official receivers from the Legal Execution Department, instead of the court, to consider and issue orders about debt payment in bankruptcy cases.

    It also allows creditors who did not petition to be in the pool of creditors within two months to still seek payment, if they can show proof that an unexpected cause made it impossible to file their petition before the deadline.

    Debtors will also be allowed to seek a compromise on debt repayment with official receivers within seven days, after they deliberate information on the business and properties involved in a case. Punishment clauses are clearer too.

    Cabinet endorsed new tobacco bill

    On 26th May, the cabinet approved in principle a new tobacco products bill which seeks to tighten up the sale of tobacco products or cigarette to minors and at public places and cigarette promotion.

    The bill, proposed by the Public Health Ministry, will replace the Tobacco Products Control Act B.E. 2535 and the Non-smokers Health Protection Act B.E, 2535.
    In essence, the bill seeks to increase the minimum age of cigarette or tobacco products buyers to 20 from 18; to ban sale of unpacked cigarettes and sale through pretties and to ban sale of cigarettes at public places such as temples, entertainment venues, health offices, educational institutes and public parks.

    Cigarette advertisements in the form of sports and competition sponsorships will also be prohibited besides advertisement ban through the media, movies and computer network.

    Other products which have nicotine ingredient such as electric cigarettes and baragu will also be covered under the bill.

    Cigarette smoking in smoking-free areas will be liable to a fine of 5,000 baht instead of 2,000 baht.

    Provident Fund Bill passed final reading

    On 14th May, the National Legislation Assembly (NLA) passed a final reading of the Provident Fund Bill with 184 votes. The Bill has principles to allow the employees contribution into the funds to be deducted from salaries. Employers must pay an additional of 2-15 percent of wages and the finance minister is authorized to halt or postpone the employees and employers contributions in regards to economic situation.

    NACC to indict Yingluck and 34 former cabinet members

    The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has decided to charge former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her 34 former cabinet members with malfeasance in office for their joint decision to provide financial compensation to victims of political violence during 2005-2010.
    The commission found that the payment of the financial compensation from the Central Fund had no legal basis because it did not concern the governments performance of duty in national administration. Nor did it concern public service or for emergency case.

    However, the commission ruled that the compensation in the form of welfare fund was meant to help people affected by political violence.

    The commissions working group has concluded that the Yingluck cabinet had abused power in resolution to pay 577 million baht of state money to a total of 524 victims in the first round of remedy to people suffered from political violence since 2005-2010.

    Anti-Pornography Bill enacted

    On 14th May, the National Legislation Assembly (NLA) passed the Anti-Pornography Bill with 193 to 1 votes and 2 abstained. The Bill has principle to penalise a holder, distributor, trader and publisher of pornographic materials in any form; publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person or persons under the age of 18. While the holder could get at a maximum of 5 years jail term and Baht 100,000 fine or both, the distributor is subject to a maximum of 7 years imprison and Baht 140,000 fine or both, and the trader and publisher to a maximum jail term 3-10 years and Baht 60,000-200,000 fine or both.

    NLA passed Public Assembly Bill

    On 1st May, the NLA read the Public Assembly Bill for its second and third round and passed with 158 to 0 votes making the Bill effective after publish in the Royal Gazette.

    The Bill requires those who wish to assemble in public places to inform police chief in the area at least 24 hours in advance. Information on the assembling objective, day and date must be submitted according to the ministerial regulations, to be issued afterwards.

    Irregular migration in the Indian Ocean

    On 29th May, Thailand hosted a special meeting among 17 nations on the irregular migration in the Indian Ocean. The participant countries were Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, and Thailand, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Thailand attended as participants. Representatives of Japan, Switzerland, and the United States of America attended as observers. A number of Ambassadors and Chargé d Affaires based in Bangkok also observed the meeting.

    The meeting aimed at finding urgent solutions for the irregular migrants currently stranded in the Indian Ocean as well as actions-oriented and long-term solutions for the outflow of the irregular migration.

    At the meeting, representatives of the five most affected countries, namely Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand stated the efforts and measures each country was undertaking. They also reaffirmed their full commitments to continue to provide proper humanitarian assistance to the migrants currently stranded at sea and victims of trafficking and to strengthen their cooperation on law enforcement to put an end to the activities of the criminal networks.

    The 29 May meeting also emphasized the need for relevant countries and the international community to resolve irregular maritime migration, in particular, human trafficking and people smuggling, in a comprehensive and sustainable manner by addressing the root causes and other contributing factors in the spirit of cooperation, international burden sharing and shared responsibility.

    The government in Bangkok has also authorized the U.S. to conduct maritime domain awareness flights through Thai airspace to assist in locating and marking positions of vessels possibly carrying irregular migrants.

    A working committee to oversee San Sap canal

    In regards to water pollution in San Sap Canal, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) appointed a working committee, under supervision of Deputy Transport Minister Akom Termpitayapaisit, to solve the water pollution problems discharge from domestic and industrial buildings. The first task is to submit implementation plan, timeframe and budget within 25th May 2015. The NCPO anticipated the project to be completed in 2016 and with strict legal measures; San Sap Canal would be restore to the required environmental and tourism standards.

    Along its 45.45 km length, San Sap Canal is joined with 101 waterways and the most polluted area is the 6 km. between Klong Ton to Bangkapi.

    Draught made farm households income to drop sharply

    The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) disclosed social data in the first quarter of 2015 that employed persons in all sector declined 0.5% or 200,000, to 37.6 million, less than the same quarter of last year. The most decrease, 4.4%, is in agricultural sector due to draught, the termination of the rice pledge scheme and it was normal dry season but employment outside agricultural sector; production, construction, hotel and restaurant etc. increased 1.3%, making an average unemployment rate 0.94%.

    Due to the dry season started sooner since 20th October 2014 and draught was more severe than anticipation, 12,364 villages out of 74,965 countrywide were affected.

    The decreases in agricultural products and prices pushed an average wage in agricultural sector to plunge to Baht 5,700 per month and it is only half of what were paid in other sectors.
    These truly affected earning capability of those agricultural households and employees.

    The Thai Chamber of Commerce, Foreign Chamber of Commerce cooperated with relevant state agencies launched a program to assist agricultural households. They were encouraged to join in cooperatives or community enterprises and get assistance in term of seed stock, fertilizers, expertise knowledge on cost reduction, domestic and international marketing ,product development in order to add value and selling prices etc. Scholarships would also be provided to youth from agricultural households so they would return to work in their community.

    GDP decreased from draught

    In regards to the counter draught policy, banning of off-season rice farming in Chao Pharya and Mae Klong basins, the Center for Applied Economics Research, Kasetsart University conducted a study on 281 sampling households in 4 provinces; Ayudhaya, Lopburi, Singburi, and Nakorn Pathom and found only 69% cooperated and hold back from planting.

    On the contrary, 6.34 million rai of rice farm was normally cultivating and they yielded 3.8 million ton of rice. Last year 15.92 million rai off-season farms produced 9.55 million ton, therefore, a substantial decrease of rice production caused an average loss of Baht 70,268 per household or a total loss of Baht 27,462 million in agricultural sector. The loss of agricultural household income led to a decrease of Baht 25,631 million in household consumption that effected GDP to decline at Baht 58,539 million.

    A budget of Baht 3,674 million has been provided to alleviate farmers in 3 programs; funding Baht 1 million per sub-district, temporary employment and providing seed stock of dry season crops. Though the programs lifted a decrease of net income loss to Baht 23,788 million, a decrease of agricultural household consumption to Baht 22,202 million and a decrease of GDP loss to Baht 50,707 million, 48% of farmers preferred for cash and only 17.4% said they are fine with credits/coupons for farming materials.

    Earthquake in Phang Nga

    On 6th May, a 4.6 magnitude earthquake struck Phang-nga. The epicenter was 4 kilometers deep in the sea off Koh Yao island. The quake was felt in Phang-nga, Phuket and Krabi provinces but there was no tsunami.

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