ԴЪҸԻ (English)
May 2018 : Constitution Court: 2 Organic Bills Constitutionally

  • CC ruled the Senate Bill constitutionally
  • CC ruled Election Bill constitutionally
  • Supreme Court postponed verdict on Klong Dan case
  • Child welfare increased to 600bt./month
  • Civil Court shelves Sutheps case over polling
  • Marijuana in medical use acceptable in principle
  • 300 MB for compensation to crime victims and defendants
  • Joint venturing 60:40 on 3 southern biomass power plants
  • More 512 MB allocated for new parliament
  • Tax exempt for seminars in 55 provinces
  • Cabinet nodded on Community Enterprises Bill
  • 5 EC candidates named
  • Local authorities top among all corruption complained
  • Q1 GDP grew 4.8%-highest in 5 years

    CC ruled the Senate Bill constitutionally

    On 23rd May, the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled the Organic Act on Installation of Senators is constitutionally and in line with Section 269 and 107 of the Constitution.

    The ruling followed a petition signed by 30 members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), to the NLA president, and submitted to the Court, to decide whether the Organic Act is legally due to there are clauses that allow for senate candidates to propose themselves, organizations to field candidates for selection, and require intra-group selection among candidates instead of cross group voting.

    This raised questions over whether the selection process contravened Section 107 of the charter, which stipulates that senators must be installed from selections made by and among candidates.

    The Court confirmed in its judgement that the clauses were in line with the Constitution.

    CC ruled the Election Bill constitutionally

    On 30th May, the Constitution Court unanimously ruled the Organic Act on Election of MPs is constitutionally and in line with the Constitution. The petition was launched by 30 members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), to the NLA president, and submitted to the Court, to decide whether the Organ Act is legally on two sections:
    1. Section 35 (4) and (5) on the revocation of political rights for those who failed to vote from becoming a political officer.
    2. Section 92 on allowing others to mark the ballot card at a polling booth for voters with disabilities.

    This raised questions over whether these two sections contravened with the Constitution.

    The Court confirmed the two sections are in line with the Constitution due to Section 95 (3) of the Constitution due to the charter stipulates a voter who fails to vote without notification of a reasonable cause under the Organic Act on the Election of Members of the House of Representatives may be subjected to a restriction of certain rights a provided by law.

    The balloting, in Section 92, is by direct suffrage and secret in regards to Section 85, paragraph one, of the charter.

    Supreme Court postponed verdict on Klong Dan case

    On 30th May, the Supreme Court has issued arrest warrants for four suspects wanted in the long-running multibillion-baht Klong Dan corruption case while postponing the reading of its verdict to July 13. The postponing was for the second time.

    The four suspects who were absent were: Roy-isaporn Chutapha, director of the Gateway Development Co; Charlee Chutapha, director of Klong Dan Marine Co; Chayanat Osathanugrah, director of Klong Dan Marine Co; and Wattana Asavahem, a former deputy interior minister who fled the country in 2009 while he case was still in the Court of Appeals.

    Dating back to the mid-1990s, all 19 suspects were charged with conspiring to cheat the state by using land plots totaling 1,900 rai in Samut Prakan province for construction of a 23,000 million baht massive waste-water treatment facility under a fraudulent contract signed with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

    Previously, Wattana, the former deputy interior minister, was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for abuse of authority while in office with regard to the issuing of illegal land documents, cost 1,900 million baht, to facilitate the Klong Dan waste water treatment project.

    Child welfare increased to 600bt.

    On 28th May, the Cabinet resolved to approve the Labor Ministry to amend the regulations on child welfare by increasing the insured members child welfare allowances to a 600 baht, from previous 400 baht, per child per month. This will be effective since 1st January 2018. The allowance also increased from a maximum of 2 to 3 offspring on condition they should not be older than 6 years. The payment will be retroactive to 20th October 2015.

    Civil Court shelves Sutheps case over poll

    On 21st May, the Civil Court temporarily disposed a civil case against Suthep Thuagsuban and 39 others for impeding the 2014 general election, pending the outcome of a criminal case against them.

    The Election Commission filed the suit against the Peoples Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protestors, led by Mr. Suthep, seeking damages of 3 billion baht.

    The Court decided to temporarily dispose the civil case until the ruling of the criminal case comes.

    The Criminal Court scheduled the examination of evidence of the criminal case on June 25.

    The PDRC took the street in 2013 after the Pheu Thai-dominated House passed an amnesty bill. The protestors, led by then secretary-general Suthep viewed the bill would whitewash former prime minister Thaksin, Yinglucks brother, whom they viewed was highly corrupt.

    The Senate later rejected the bill but the protestors stepped up its demand to forcing Yingluck to step down, prompting the Pheu Thai-backed red shirt to rally and some clashes ensued.

    During the protests at this stage, the PDRC closed several public offices and main streets in its operation Bangkok Shutdown.

    Yingluck agreed to dissolve the House in late 2013 and called an election on Feb. 2 the following year. She refused calls for her to resign, saying her status was only as caretaking PM overseeing the election.

    The PDRC refused to accept the election, the Constitutional Court nullified it on technicalities. It later removed Yingluck and some ministers on May 7 over the 2011 transfer of a National Security Council chief, resulting in a vacuum of power. Gen Prayut staged a military coup on May 22.

    The EC later said 46.8% of 43 million voters managed to cast ballots in 68 provinces in the 2014 election. The voting in nine southern provinces was cancelled due to a shortage of ballot papers.

    Cabinet approved draft bill on marijuana in medical use

    On 15th May, the Cabinet approved the narcotics code amendment bill with principle that allows marijuana, categorized in Class 5, for medical use on condition it has to be prescribed by doctors.

    However, no action can be done until details on cultivation, research and development, distilling, manufacturing, application and permission, etc. are enforced in ministerial regulations.

    Compensations to crime victims and defendants

    On 16th May the Rights and Liberties Protection Department disclosed there are 5,642 crime victims and defendants waiting for compensation in the 2018 Fiscal Budget. They are divided into 5,611 victims and 31 defendants. A total of 294,081,556 baht is required and it was divided into 210,000,000 baht for the victims and 5,918,444 baht for the defendants. A few had been reimbursed but the rest are waiting for their compensation.

    Under the law, crime victims, as well as their families can apply for compensation on expenses occurred from medical, counselling, funeral or burial and lost wages or support costs.

    Joint venturing on 3 southern biomass power plants

    On 15th May, the Cabinet resolved joint-ventures between PEA ENCOM International Co., a subsidiary of Provincial Electrical Authority (PEA), and private sector to found three community-run biomass power plants in the three southern provinces; Narathiwas, Pattani and Songhla. They are
    1. Pracharat Biomass Narathiwas Co., capacity 9.9 Megawatt, investment cost 755 million baht.
    2. Pracharat Biomass Mae Larn Pattani Co. capacity 3 Megawatte, investment cost 410 million baht.
    3. Pracharat Bannang Star Yala Co. capacity 3 Megawatt, investment cost 390 million baht.

    Total cost of three power plants is 1,555 million baht and 40 percent will be shared by PEA ENCOM and 60 by private sector and communities.

    Construction will start in July 2018 and operating expects to start in November 2020. Project period is 20 years.

    Another 512 MB allocated to the new parliament

    On 15th May, the Cabinet resolved to allocate an additional budget 512.50 million baht to the construction of the new parliament. 273.51 million baht will be used for a construction of auxiliary buildings, 150.45 million baht for construction supervision and 88.54 million baht for project administration consultation.

    The senate assembly hall and offices are scheduled to be completed in December 2018 while MPs assembly hall in March 2019 before the general election.

    However, the new parliament building required for another 8,135.56 million baht administration cost, for a period 2018 to 2020. This budget is pending by the Cabinet due to there is insuffecient details and some items are too costly.

    Tax exempt for seminars in 55 provinces

    On 13th May, the Royal Gazette published a decree on tax exemption for businesses providing seminars in 55 listed provinces, from 1 January to 31 December 2018. Expenses on accommodations, seminar, transport and other relating cost as well as services cost paid on tourism and guides are liable to 100 percent deduction before tax. It is anticipated that this tax incentive will boost tourism in those secondary tourism provinces.

    Community Enterprises Bill

    On 8th May, the Cabinet endorsed the Community Enterprises Bill with principles to promote community business. Community enterprises, over one year establishment, are required to register to juristic persons.

    The Bill also revoked the policy funding for enterprises development committee while added penalty to those branding community enterprise without registration. Fine is 1,000 baht daily until de-brand.

    EC candidates named

    On 3th May, a screening committee has chosen five election commissioners candidates from a list of 24 to be endorsed by the National Legislative Assembly. They are:
    1. Santhat Siriananpaibul, en environmental technology lecturer at King Mongkuts University of Technology Thonburi;
    2. Somchai Charnnarongkul, director-general of the Agriculture Extension Department , Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative Ministry.
    3. Itthporn Boonprakong, former director-general of the Foreign Ministrys Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and ex-ambassador to Nairobi and the Hague;
    4. Peerasak Hinmuangkhao, former governor of Buriram, Pathum Thani, Rayong, Chumporn and Nakorn Ratchasrima; and
    5. Thawatchai Terdpaothai, a former member of the defunct National Reform Steering Assembly.

    The five candidates were shortlisted after the 24 candidates expressed visions before the screening committee. They won two-third of the votes of the seven-member panel as required by the Election Commission law.

    They would join the two candidates earlier picked by the Supreme CourtCatchai Chanpraisri, a chief Supreme Court judge, and Pakorn Mahannop, a Supreme Court judge.

    The list has been sent to the NLAs president and the candidates will be vetted by a panel before a vote.

    The NLA on Feb 22 rejected the previous list of EC candidates. Although it did not give explanations, it was understood the rejection came because the Supreme Court had not chosen the two candidates in its quota in an open manner as constitutionally required

    The pair the court picked this time was the same ones chosen earlier but this time they were selected in an open vote.

    According to the EC law, the EC screening committee comprises of the presidents of the Supreme Court, House of Representatives (NLA) and Supreme Administrative Court, as well as leader of the opposition (NLA) and persons appointed by the Constitutional Court and other independent organizations.

    Local authorities top among all corruption complained

    On 30th May, the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption disclosed its report done in 2017 on corruption cases that dishonest and negligent to perform duties came first at 41.19 percent. Second was embezzlement and financial fraud, 9.91 percent, followed by misconduct in public project 9.58 percent, procurement fraud and blackmail, 9.08 percent, and rice pledging 6.85 percent.

    Regarding to administration, the top five complained were local authorities 17.35 percent. Followed by Interior Ministry, 15.11 percent, National Police Office 9.96 percent, Education Ministry, 4.11 percent, and Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry, 2.34 percent.

    Regarding to area, Bangkok Metropolitan Authority came first at 13.19 percent. Followed by Nakorn Ratchasrima 3.19 percent, Chiangmai 2.91 percent, Ubon Ratchathani 2.61 percent and Nakorn Sawan 2.59 percent.

    Q1 GDP grew 4.8%-highest in five years

    On 21st May, the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board disclosed GDP in the first quarter of 2018 increased 4.8 percent and beat the highest in five years period. It was against 4.0 percent expansion of the prior quarter which was the highest in all 20 previous quarters. Economic growth in 2018 expects to grow at 4.2-4.7 percent, and moderate rate is 4.5 percent.
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