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April 2019 : Ombudsman asked Court to rule on List MP Calculation

  • Ombudsman asked Court to rule on List MP calculation
  • Charter Court rejected EC petition on party-list MPs seat method
  • EC called re-election in 6 constituencies
  • Compulsory health insurance on O-A visa
  • State agents going for e-Service in 2020
  • Human traffic act amended to include Forced labor
  • Thanathorn charged on holding media shares
  • Thaksin gets 3 years jail in EXIM Bank case
  • Supreme Admin Court overturned Hopewels compensation
  • MoF informed diplomats on political protocal
  • Restricted woods unlocked in private land
  • A roadmap to tackle plastic waste

    Ombudsman asked Court to rule on List MP Calculation

          On 26 April, all three Ombudsmen decided to ask the Constitution Court to rule on a formula to calculate the number of party list MPs of political parties.

          The decision was made because Section 91 of the constitution described the calculation method on five-sections but the organic law on the MP election elaborated the calculation on eight-sections that included new content in addition to those in the constitution.

          The ombudsman dismissed a complaint lodged by Mr. Rueankrai Leekitwatana, former member of the disbanded Thai Raksa Chart Party, to nullify the March 24 election. Mr. Rueankrai petitioned the Ombudsman to rule whether the poll was conducted honestly and fairly and whether some of the Election Commissions actions violate the constitution or related laws to the point the voting results should be voided..

          The Ombudsman also dismissed accusations about inconsistent numbers of ballots, the exclusion of ballots from voters in New Zealand and the number of stateless people being used to design constituencies.

    Charter Court rejected EC petition on party list MPs seat method

          On 24 April, the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled to reject a petition by the Election Commission (EC) seeking its ruling on the method of calculating and allocating party-list seats.

          The court decided it was the ECs responsibility to calculate the seats, which it needed to do after endorsing the Constituency MPs result; therefore, the court is not authorized to offer the opinion.

          The EC earlier submitted the case to the court after days of disagreement and debate over the calculation method to be used for calculating the party-list MP seats.

          The EC conceded that its preferred formula may not meet constitutional requirements, but said that other calculations would not enable it to fill all 150 party-list seats.

    EC ordered re-election in 6 constituencies

          On 5 April, the Election Commission (EC) called re-election in 6 constituencies in 5 provinces. Two constituencies are in Lampang and Yasothorn , Petchabun , Ptisanulok and Bangkok, each with one constituency.
    Compulsory health insurance for O-A visa

          On 2 April, the cabinet resolved on principle to a compulsory health insurance for foreigners seeking O-A Type ( 1 year) Non-Immigrant VISA. Minimal insure is 40,000 baht per annual for out-patient and 400,000 baht for in-patient. Insurance can be bought online from www.longstay.tgia.org website. Those having international insurance must have similar coverage.

          Thailand has been a top choice for international retirement migration among expats around the world due to low cost of living and medical services. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that long-stay visa holders have adequate health protection and benefit public and private hospitals in the country.

    State agencies going for e-Service in 2020

          On 2 April, the cabinet approved a plan on digital office for all state agencies on 2020 ends. The Electronic Transaction Development Office is assigned to oversee all electronic transaction conducting in a single standard, stable, secure from falsifying and can be used as evidence in court.

          Currently, public documents are issued in two main groups; electronic and paper-based. Electronic document is a digital solution for proof of identity of citizens or organizations, for example in view to access benefits or services provided by government authorities. They are eIDs and smart cards which personal authentication is proved both online and offline by RFID microchip embedded. Another e-document is work permits for foreigners recently downloading in smart phones. However, some state agencies still use paper-based documents.

          The cabinet also approved amendments of related laws that facilitate electronic documents and transaction. Upon enforcement, e-Service must be fully implemented within 2020.

    Human traffic act amended to include Forced labor

          On 23 April, the National Legislative Assembly extraordinary convened to read the Amendment of the B.E. 2551 B.E. 2562 Prevention of Human Trafficking Act and passed the law with 177 to 0 and 4 abstained.

          Principle is to add Forced labor and its penalty with a maximum fine of 50,000 to 400,000 baht or jail tern between 6 months to 4 years. Jail terms can be raised to 8-20 years, or life upon severe physical or health injury. Fatal injury is liable to life sentence or jail term.

          Forced labor refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation or by more subtle means such as accumulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities.

          There are about 4.9 migrants in Thailand, making up more than 10 percent of the countrys workforce, according to the United Nations. They are working in the seafood industry, domestic work, construction, agriculture, livestock, hospitality, garment manufacturing and other sectors.

          The amendment widens the definition of forced labor and includes anyone engaged in the purchase, sale, confinements or exploitation of a person.

          Thailand is the first country in Asia to ratify the forced labor protocol of the International Labor Organization (ILO) for combating all forms of forced labor, including trafficking, and ensuring access to remedies and compensation.

    Thanathorn charged on holding media shares

          On 23 April, the Election Commission (EC) resolved to notify the Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Mr. Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit of owning 675,000 shares, number from 1350001 to 2025000, in a media company, V-Luck Media Co. which runs several media outlets. The petition was lodged from the Association for the Protection of the Constitution.

          In regards to the MPs qualification, Section 98 of the constitution bars owners or shareholders of media and/or publishing companies from applying to be MPs.

          The EC will investigate whether Mr. Thanathorn still holding shares when applying to be MP.

          The EC has also accepted another complaint on accusation on Mr. Thanathorn transferred his asset to a blind trust.

          Mr. Thanathorn has the right to not give words and can clarify the allegation within 7 days after receiving the notice of the allegation. If he cannot clarify his allegation he may be disqualified from being a candidate for MPs, which during this examination, the EC has the power to temporarily suspend the right to apply for election for 1 year, also known as orange leaf.

    Thaksin gets 3 years jail in EXIM Bank case

          On 23 April, the Supreme Court for politicians has sentenced Thaksin Shinawatra in absentia to three years in prison for having conflict of interest in the EXIM Bank loan case.

          The case involves the lending of 4 billion baht to the Myanmar government in 2004.

          The court ruled that Thaksin has conflict of interest when he ordered the EXIM Bank to lend 4 billion baht at a 3 percent low interest rate to the Myanmar government so it could buy products from Shin Satellite Plc, a company owned by his family.

          The court ruled him guilty of violating Section 152 and sentenced him to three years in prison.

          The charge was filed in 2008 by the Asset Scrutiny Commission (ASC), a panel set up after the 2006 military coup.

          The ASC claimed the Myanmar government later used the money to buy 400 million baht worth of products sold by Shin Satellite.

    Supreme Admin Court overturned Hopewells compensation

          On 22 April, the Supreme Administrative Court overturned the Administrative courts verdict and ordered the two state agencies; the Transport Ministry and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), to pay almost 11.9 billion baht in compensation to Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holdings Company for the termination of the Hopewell project.

          The compensation, plus another 500 million baht in bank guarantees put up by Hopewell Holdings Company, must be paid within 180 days of the verdict from the Supreme Administrative Court

          In 1988 the government had idea to build a 60-km elevated urban rail line from central Bangkok to Don Muang. The 30-year concession contract was signed on 9 November 1990 when the late Montri Pongpanit was transport minister in Chartchai Chunhavan government. The project cost 80,000 million baht will be borne by Hopewell Holdings and SRT will receive 50,000 million baht benefit during the concession period. Hopewell will have the rights from property development along the rail line.

          During 1991 to 1992, the Anand Panyarachun government ordered an investigation and revision of the project due to findings that the state was unfavorable. The project was re-started during 1992-1995 but faced liquidity and delayed construction problems.

          The Chuan Leekpai government officially terminated the contract on 27 January 1998. During its seven years construction progress was only 13 percent.

          Hopewell Holdings filed a lawsuit to the arbitration committee in 2004 seeking compensation of 56 billion baht and the arbitration committee ordered the state to pay compensation to Hopewell.

          The Transport Ministry and SRT filed law suit to the Central Administrative Court seeking 200 billion baht compensation from the company. The court, in 2014, rejected the ruling of the arbitrary commission, saying Hopewell filed its complaint on 24 Nov, 2004, after its five-year deadline to do so fallen on 30 Jan 2003..

          The Supreme Administrative Court, on 22 April, overturned the Administrative and ordered the two state agencies to pay compensation to Hopewell Holdings.

          The compensation cost is approximately 12,000 million baht and its interest approximately 13,000 million baht, making a total of approximately 25,000 million baht.

    FM informed diplomats on political protocal

          In response to the presence of diplomatic representatives at Pathumwan Police Station to observe the legal proceedings of Mr. Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had invited diplomats from those countries to express disappointment and concern at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 10-11 April 2019.

          In the press release, the Ministry informed that the Embassiess action was seen to be a show of moral support for Mr. Thanathorn as well as a taking sides in Thai domestic politics. This action is clearly beyond the functions of a diplomatic mission, interference in Thailands internal affairs, and a breach of Article 41 of the 1961 Vienna convention on Diplomatic relations. The Ministry therefore urged the Embassies to prevent the recurrence of such actions in the future

          The Ambassadors and representatives were from the Embassies of France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, the United States of America, Finland, Belgium and the Delegation of the European Union.

          Mr. Thanathorn went to Pathumwan Police Station on 6 April to hear the charges being made against him on sedition under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, helping a suspect escape under Section 189, and organizing an assembly of more than 10 people that caused unrest (Section 215). If convicted, he could face respective jail terms for seven years, two years and six months for the three charges.

    Restricted wood unlocked in private land

          On 16 April, the amendment of the Forest Act (Eighth Edition) B.E. 2562 was enforced with principles to unlock some few restricted woods planted in private lands and lands that are allowed to benefit both the title deed, Nor Sor 3 Kor.

          Following will be amnesty of all cases and therefore logging of those rare and precious woods in private land will be allowed.

          Some of the unrestricted wood are teak, rosewood, elong wood, blackwood etc.

          The amendment aims to promote people to grow valuable wood in their own land for private use and economic value. Previously, logging and using of those woods in ones own land required permissions from official making people refrained from planting.

          The Forest Act was enforced in B.E.2484, more than 78 years ago.

    Plastic waste management roadmap

           On 17 April, the cabinet resolved to approve the Plastic Waste Management Roadmap B.E. 2561-2573 aims to reduce, stop using of some plastics utensils and replace with environmental friendly materials.

          According to the roadmap, in 2019, three plastic products will be banned. They include plastic cap seals in water bottles, oxo-degradable plastics, and plastic microbeads.

          The use of four other types of plastic will stop by 2022. They include plastic bags less than 36 microns in thickness, Styrofoam food boxes, plastic straws, and single use plastic cups.

          By 2027, 100 percent of plastic waste will be reusable. Campaigns will be launched for public participation in reducing and stopping the use of plastic. They will also be conducted through online media.

          Moreover, a plastic waste database will be created, while appropriate tools and mechanisms will be used within Thailands context, such as behavior change and reuse of plastic.

          It is anticipated the volume of plastic waste will be reduced by 0.78 million tons per annual and save 3.9 billion baht in waste management cost annually.
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