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August 2015 : New Cabinet Sworn In

  • Cabinet reshuffled: New members sworn in
  • 2016 Fiscal Budget Bill readjusted to 2.72 trillion baht
  • Ratchaprasong bombing
  • 248 former MPs slipped impeachment votes
  • AG unauthorized to defend Somchai Wongsawat and associates
  • Chonsawat Assavahem jail sentenced on election fraud
  • Inheritance Tax to take effect in 6 months
  • Export declines for 7 successive month
  • New Provident Fund Act enforced
  • Supreme Court ruling on scandalous KTB loans

    New cabinet members sworn in

    On 23rd August, HM King Bhumipol granted an audience, at Siriraj Hospital, to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and 19 new members of the cabinet. Previously, the Prime Minister made a third cabinet reshuffle and the new members are:
    • General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Deputy Prime Minister
    • ACM Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister
    • Admirl Narong Pipatanasai, Deputy Prime Minister
    • Mr. Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister
    • Mr. Apisak Tantivorawong, Minister of Finance
    • Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • General Chatchai Sarikalya, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives
    • Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Minister of Transport
    • Mr. Omsin Chiwaphruek, Deputy Minister of Transport
    • General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
    • Mr. Uttama Savanayana, Minister of Information and Communication Technology
    • General Anantaporn Kanjanarat, Minister of Energy
    • Mrs. Apiradi Tantraporn, Minister of Commerce
    • Mr. Suvit Maesincee, Deputy Minister of Commerce
    • General Sirichai Distakul, Minister of Labour
    • General Dapong Ratanasuwan, Minister of Education
    • Mr. Teerakiat Jaroensettasin, Deputy Minister of Education
    • Mr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Minister of Public Health
    • Mrs. Atchaka Sibunruang, Minister of Industry

    NLA approved 2016 Fiscal Budget Bill

    On 27th August, the National Legislative Assembly voted, on its third round, with 184 to nil and 4 abstentions, to pass the 2016 Fiscal Budget Bill. The Bill was finally readjusted to 2.72 trillion baht which is 20,582 million baht less than proposed. Among those reductions, they are 1) Education 3,055 MB, 2) Transportation 2,784 MB, 3) Agriculture and Cooperative 2,545 MB and 4) Defense 1,257 MB.

    Ratchaprasong bombing

    On 17th August, a bombing took place inside the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection, killing 20 people and injuring 123. Among the fatalities were 14 tourists visiting the shrine and most of the injured were also tourists.
    On 18th, another bombing took place at the Sathon pier near Thaksin Bridge but caused no injury. The police found explosive debris from the two incidents similar and fundamentally presumed there was a connection between the two bombings.

    From the security camera footage, police identified a suspect and later on 29 August searched into an apartment in Nong Jok district. A foreigner with faked Turkish passport living in bomb-making components was taken into custody. On 30 August, another search was taken in another apartment also in Nong Jok. Though no one was found in the room where bomb-making components were kept, the renter was a Thai woman married to a Turk.

    The Ratchaprasong bombing incident was widely interested among international media due to the casualties were tourists. As revenue from tourism, particularly from China, was important to Thai economy, western countries warnings over trips to Thailand was a threat to tourism industry.

    Though no group has claimed over the incident, there were speculations on its causes and relevance to outside terrorists. Up until now, no country came to accept the custodians nationality and a hundred of passport seized were all faked.

    248 former MPs slipped impeachment votes

    On 14th August, the National Legislative Assembly could not impeach 248 former MPs due to the votes could not reach 132, or three out of five of the voters as required in the constitution.

    The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) alleged the 248 former MPs of violated article 6 second paragraph of the 2014 Constitution and article 64 of the organic law, Anti-Corruption Act of 1999. The incident took place in 2013 When they were members of the parliament and approved a draft constitutional amendment on the qualifications of the elected MP. The NACC found the approved draft different from the previous one passed the third reading on article 6, to allow 2-time senators to run the election. The approved draft was resubmitted by former chairman of the government whip, Mr. Udomdej Ratanasathien.

    The deliberation was long and was concluded on 13 August 2015 after NACC representative, Mr. Wichai Wivitsevee and former Phue Thai Chiangrai MP Mr. Samart Kaewmeechai made their final remarks in the assembly. Samart was the only one among 248 to deliver verbal statement while the rest sent their written documents.

    AG unauthorized to defend Somchai Wongsawat

    On 18th August 2015, the judges of the Supreme Courts Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions voted 8 to 1 that the Office of the Attorney-General has no authority to act as the arbiter in the litigation against former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, former deputy Prime Minister Gen. Chawalit Yongjaiyut, Former police chief Pol. Gen. Patcharawas Wongsuwan and former Metropolitan Police Chief Pol. Lt. Gen. Suchart Muankaew. The four were resolved, by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, over their command that led to the disbanding of protest, on 7 October 2008 that caused 2 fatalities and 471 injuries. The court ordered the four defendants to appoint new lawyer on their behalf.

    Chonsawat sentenced to 1.5 year jail

    On 4th August, the Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Courts ruling that sentenced chief executive of Samutprakarn Provincial Administration Organization, Mr. Chonsawat Assavahem and former deputy, Mr. Pitichart Trisurat, each to a one year and six months jail term, without probation, and purge their election rights for 4 years. The two men were found guilty over election fraudulent on 2 May 1999.

    Inheritance tax to take effect on 02/16

    On 5th August, the Inheritance and Gift Tax Act was published in the Royal Gazette and to take effect after 180 days.

    An heir receives a total value of worth more than 100 million baht is subjected to pay inheritance tax at 10%, on the surplus value, and 5% if he/she is the offspring of the deceased. Taxable asset are registered assets, including residential properties, land, vehicles, bonds, equities, and deposits at financial institutions.
    Tax applicant should submit taxation form within 150 days after bequeathed and the payment could be dividing into installation over a maximum period of 5 years. Violation is subjected to a fine of one-fold of the payment and the assessment period is 10 years. Incomplete or fraudulence of document could lead to a fine of 0.5 fold of the additional payment. Tax redemption should be submitted within 5 years after totally paid and arbitration could be appeal, to the committee, within 30 days.

    Export declines for 7 successive month

    On 27th August, the Commerce Ministry Trade Policy and Strategy Office disclosed export value in July 2015, continued to drop for a succeeding of 7 months, was USD 18,233 million and was 3.56% less than the same month of 2014. However the value when excluding processed petroleum and relevant products and gold ore, decreased 2.6% to a totaled USD 15,925 million.

    Import value of the same period also decreased at 12.73%, making a total overbalance of USD 770 million or 18,922 million baht.

    New Provident Fund Act enforced

    On 11th August, the new Provident Fund Act of 2015 (Fourth Edition) was enforced with revision to allow employees to pay more monthly saving than their employers. In case of economic crisis, public disaster or any situation affected the economy, the finance minister is authorized to terminate the saving payment of both employees and employers. The provident fund now can be transferred to any fund with objective to provide security in old age or retirement.

    Supreme Court ruling on scandalous KTB loans

    On 26th August, the Supreme Courts Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions (SCCDPHPP) sentenced 25 people involved in the Krung Thai Bank (KTB) scandalous loans to a 12-18 years jail terms. They are divided into 3 groups; the Banks former executives, the Banks loan officials, and the borrowers. The Court also resolute the Bank to seek a compensation of a loss of more than 10,000 MB.
    In 2003 during Thaksin Shinawatra was in office, loans totaled more than 10,000 MB was granted to Krisda Mahanakorn group of companies for the purpose of refinancing and buying land for real estate project. Mortgage security was a 4,000 rai vacant land.

    In an investigation conducted later, the Bank of Thailand found irregularity since the borrower was in the Black List due to its economic crisis and the loan was 2,000 MB more than debt value. Some part of the loan was for private benefits and the approval was done within 3 days after submission.

    It took 7 years from the Assets Examination Committee, appointed in 2006, to a lawsuit filed and acceptance by the Supreme Courts Criminal Section of Persons Holding Political Positions in 2013 due to some of the defendants recalled the Bank top executive remark, in the meeting, the Big Boss wanted the loan to be approved. Thaksin was accused as the first defendant and the prosecution took another 2 years before ruling made. There were evident that money, more than 100 MB, transferred into accounts of people corresponds with Thaksin Shinawatra.

    Three former KTB loan executives were sentenced to a 18-year jail term on violated article 4 of the 1952 State Official Act and are required to co-pay compensation to the lost. The Bank officers and borrowers received a 12-year term but only borrowers are required to pay compensation. As the first defendant, Thaksin Shinawatrs fled the country, his prosecution was suspended.

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