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August 2019 : Ombudsman Refers Oath Blunder to Constitutional Court

  • Ombudsman Refers Oath Blunder to Constitutional Court
  • DE has big idea to increase households income through digital agriculture
  • Marijuana unlocked for food and cosmetics use
  • Multiple small bombs blasted in Bangkok
  • EC urges political parties to urgently establish regional branches
  • Southernmost provinces promoting for investment
  • 24 Red Shirt leaders acquitted on 2010 protest
  • 316 BB allocates for economic stimulation
  • Court acquitted Thaksin on Krung Thai loan case

    Ombudsman Refers Oath Blunder to Constitutional Court

           On 27 August, the Ombudsman resolved to forward a complaint about the failure of Prime Minister Prayu Chan-o-cha and his cabinet ministries to recite the complete oath of office to the Constitutional Court.

          The complaint was lodged from Mr. Panupong Churak, a Ramkhamhaeng University student, who wrote that the incomplete oath affected his rights under section 213 of the constitution.

          He cited section 161 that Before taking office, a Minister must make a solemn declaration before the King in the following words: I, (name of the declarer), do solemnly declare that I will be loyal to the King and will faithfully perform my duties in the interests of the country and of the people. I will also uphold and observe the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in every respect.

          In the case where the King has commanded the Council of Ministers to perform duties before making a solemn declaration, such Council of Ministers may proceed in accordance with section 162 paragraph two. In this case, the Council of Ministers under section 168 (1) shall be discharged from the performance of duties from the date of such command

          He believes his constitutional rights were violated due to Section 213 stipulates A person whose rights or liberties guaranteed by the Constitution are violated, has the right to submit a petition to the Constitutional Court for a decision on whether such act is contrary to or inconsistent with the Constitution, according to the rules, procedures and conditions prescribed by the Organic Act on Procedures of the Constitutional Court.

          Mr. Panupong said in his complaint that the incomplete oath could lead to the nullification of the cabinets formation and the governments policy statement, and policy implementation, and thus affect the governments ability to work for the peoples benefit.

          The Ombudsman had dismissed similar complaints filed on August 5 by activist Mr. Srisuwan Janya and Ai Phetthong because their complaints focused on the actual recitation of the oath, which the Ombudsman considered an action that did not concern a law.

          The cabinets swearing-in ceremony was held before His Majesty the King on July 16.

          Prayut did not vocalize the last sentence of the oath required by the Constitution as prescribes in section 161.

          He failed to say I will also uphold and comply with the constitution of the kingdom in every aspect.

          On 27 August, HIS Majesty gave a written message to Prayut and the cabinet members. Firstly Prayut declined to comment on the contents of the royal message but later he showed a copy in a frame. The royal message expressed moral support for the government to perform its duty.

    DE has big idea to increase household income through digital agriculture

           On 9 August, Minister of Digital for Economy and Society (DE) Puttiphong Punnakan participated in an informal conversation with the Digital Association of Digital Infuser brainstormed seminar on the 10 Key Challenges towards Digital Thailand activity to listen to problems-obstacles together with planning to overcome obstacles towards the Digital Thailand program.

          Puttiphong said that many people think Thailand cannot be an ASEAN leader regardless to its advantages in location and manpower due to the bureaucratic system that does not support the rapid government movement.

          He asked for only three months to bring digital to help the people at the foundation level in the agricultural sector, which comprises of 30 million people, by choosing one pilot province with the lowest income per household and working through community enterprise using digital to plan the cultivation, product development, marketing plan, who will sell the product, which way. State agents shall be excluded in competing with private sector in making supporting applications. He is confident that within three months household income will definitely increase.

          Next, Logistics and Big Data will be developed after current problems; un-cooperation and not sharing of information among state agents solve. Joint planning will become key factor of success paving way towards long term cooperation and investment among three sectors; state agents, public sector and the manufacturers. However, in this initial phase, he will invite the tourism and related sectors to come to discuss on how to share information to accomplish a nationwide data management plan.

    Marijuana unlocked for food-cosmetic use

           On 8 August, the Royal Gazette website published the Public Health Ministerial Regulation with a principle to exclude marijuana from narcotic substance, allowing its use in food or cosmetics if the maximum usage is not exceed than 0.2 percent.

          However, in the first five years period, excluding is allowed for locally grown plants so as to stimulate domestic cultivation. In addition, two types of marijuana; Kancha and Kanchong are distinguished due to the latter fibrous substance can be used in fabric material. It is anticipated that Kanchong will become the new economic plant in textile industry.

    Multiple small bombs blasted in Bangkok

           On 1 and 2 August small bombs, or ping pong bombs, exploded in 15 sites in 9 areas in Bangkok. They were in front of the Police Headquarter in Pratumwan, Building B. Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Rd., Military Headquarter on Chaeng Wattana Road, Soi Pra Ram 9 in Suan Luang district, in front of King Power Mahanakorn Building on Narathiwas Road, In front of Saladaeng Sky Train station, in front of the Military Secretary0General Office in Prathum Thani province, a hotel in Pratunam area, shop houses in Saim One complex and Paragon complex.

          Later nine people were captured and detained for investigation. The police suspected motivation is to discredit the government since Thailand was hosting an ASEAN foreign ministers meeting, which also attended by diplomats from the United States, China and other world powers.

          Among the suspects are Lu-sai Sae-ngae, 22, and Widan Maha 29, both from Narathiwat. They were arrested on a bus during returning to the south.

    EC urges political parties to urgently establish regional branches

           On 5 August, the Election Commission held a meeting with representatives and executives from political parties and countrywide EC offices staffs to acknowledge them on the political parties laws and regulations particularly on financial and accounting practices.

          The Political Parties Act B.E. 2560 requires primary votes to be fully conducted. The process delayed in the February 2019 general election but will be exercised in the upcoming next election which is only 3 years 8 months. The EC also urged every party to urgently set up regional branches and finishing the member database. Incompliance to the law is subjected to court trial which could end up in court trial.

          Political parties income comes from 4 sources; 1.) Initial funds donated by the co-founders of the political parties at a maximum of 1 million baht each 2. Donors must meet the qualifications and do not be prohibited according to the law 3. Party fee charges from party members only 4. Money from selling souvenirs. Another source of income is from donations from taxpayers. Any party accepting foreign money or conducting profit-making activities can face party dissolution.

          Regarding to the establishment of branches, only 300 have been set up by 86 parties with a total members of 800,000. In the next election, every party should have all four regional branches and candidates running in every constituency, making total members of 4 to 15 million. Establishing a branch takes at least 3-5 moths, therefore, every party should accelerate the processes.

    Southernmost provinces promote for investment

           On 5 August, in Pattani province, Rear Admiral Somkiat Prayoon secretariat to the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), referring the cabinet resolution on 4 October 2016, designated the southernmost provinces to become an example for investment under a program Prosperous Triangle B.E. 2560-2563. A total investment of 1,500 million baht has been granted by BOI within one and a half year period.

          Currently, new development in industry and tourism are being promoted. Following a mutual agreement between Prime Minister Prayut and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathis Mohammad, a bridge over Ko-Lok river running as a boundary between the two countries will be urgently build in order to revitalize Ko-Lok city in Narathiwat province to become a trading post again.

          Regarding to the Peace Talk aiming to solve the problems, a committee is assigned to responsible and establishing environment that facilitates the talks by allowing everyone, particularly the locals, to reflect their problems and needs. The dialogue reaches out everyone and focusing on people of different opinions. However, there are still turbulences in the area due to some few 2,000 elderly but recently there is a clear positive sign due to the diminishing of young generation among the detained suspects. Officials are more welcome in the peace talks and public-private investment stimulates employment for those who wanted to return home and live normal lives. They need security upon coming back.

          Unrest in the south started in B.E. 2546 and violence erupted on 4 January 2547. During the 16 years, 5,070 died and 10,500 injured. They were both state officers and civilians. Economic slows down and there were only 11 investment projects between 2554-2558. The biggest is state run Bethong power plant, 1,700 million baht.
    24 Red Shirt leaders acquitted on 2010 protest

           On 14 August, the Criminal Court acquitted 24 United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or Red Shirt leaders on their accusations during the 2010 protest. The court found they only exercised their political rights and no evidence they had participated in the violence or intended to change the democratic regime, under the then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

          The protest was a continuing action started in 2005 when Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister. The Yellow Shirt, or PAD : Peopless Alliance for Democracy group protested Thaksin and held similar actions against the then government.

          The UDDs leaders had clearly stated their demonstration was peaceful and unarmed. All those violence occurred on different venues which should be separately investigated. The prosecutors evidences could not prove the 24 leaders had committed crimes.

          The case was filed by the General-Attorney against former UDD president Mr. Weerakan Musikpong, 71, UDD leader Mr. Jatuporn Promphan, 54, Secretariat Mr. Nuttawtu Sai-kua, 44 and other 21 people. They were charged on 6 crimes including terrorism. The defendants denied every accusation and were bailed out by a 600,000 baht, each. The trial went on for 9 years started from December 2012.

    310 BB allocates for economic stimulation

           On 16 August, the economic cabinet meeting approved measures for economic stimulation with 3 principles.
    1. Agricultural aid to farmers affected from drought in 13 provinces. The Agricultural and Cooperatives Bank will grant 909,000 loans, of no interest in the first year, 50,000 baht each, to their clients. Another 50,000 million baht will be provided as maintenance loans and 500,000 baht per loans will be provided for 3 million households to support their 2562/2563 cultivation. They must register before August.
    2. Low income group of less than 100,000 baht annually, holding social security cards will receive a top-up monthly 200 baht for two months, August and September, and the less than 30,000 baht annually income will receive 300 baht. 14.6 people registered belongs to these two groups. The elderly holding security cards and mothers of new born infants will receive a top-up 200-300 baht monthly, between August to December 2019.
    3. Measures to stimulate consumers spending by promoting domestic tourism. Those registered with Krung Thai application will receive an E-money 1,000 baht for spending outside their domiciles. Compensation of maximum 30,000 baht, or 15 percent of spending, will be cash back, too. A no visa was recommended for Chinese and Indian tourists and VOA period should be extended. (Later, the no visa for Chinese and Indian tourists was cancelled by the cabinet.)
    4. Tax reduction, 1.5 times of expenditures on purchasing of machines, within 5 years periods, to promote domestic investment. Focus group is SMEs. The Government Saving Bank and Krung Thai Bank will provide loans, total 100,000 million baht, with 7 years period, to those credited by the Thai Credit Guarantee Cooperation (TCG). Grace period is 2 years and the government shall compensate on NPLs.
    5. Loans total 25,000 million baht will be provided through the Government Saving Bank and 27,000 million baht through the Government Housing Bank to middle income group. A total debt suspension of total 67,000 million baht, on village loans will be granted by these two state banks, too.

          It is estimated the economic stimulation project, providing through public financial institutions, will cost 200,000 million baht. 50 percent will be allocated to the social security cards and common budget. Another 316,000 million baht through multiple channels. The 2019 GDP anticipates growing is not less than 3 percent.

          Poverty problems must be simultaneously solved in 4 dimensions:
    1. Accessibility to basic needs.
    2. Increase professional and learning skills.
    3. Jobs and employment.
    4. Debt eradication and increase accessibility to loans.

          In the past year, a total of 3.2 million low income individuals had completed the government jobs training programs. One million people, formally under a 30,000 baht line annual income, succeeded in earning average monthly income 1,713 baht, making total annual income increase 20,000 baht. 100,000 people broke through the 100,000 annual income ceiling with an average monthly income of 3,861 baht, making an annual average increase of 46,000 baht.

    Court acquitted Thaksin on Krung Thai loan case

           On 30 August, the supreme Courts Criminal Division for Political Holders of political Positions acquitted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of a charge of being a man behind the Krung Thai Bank (KTB) loan scandal. The loans, totaling 9.9 billion baht, were granted to the property developer Krisdammahanakorn Plc groups in 2003-2004 when he was the prime minister. The verdict was made on 26 August 2015, sentenced 24 to jail terms and 2 acquittal.

          The court ruled the prosecution witness, former KTB board member Mr. Chainarong Inthrameechai, had failed to provide substantial evidence to prove the former prime minister influenced the approval of the loans, as claimed.

          Mr. Chainarong claimed he was told by the second defendant that a big boss had approved the deal. He assumed that the big boss was Thaksin.

          The witnesss testimony was in contradiction with his statement made to the now-defunct Assets Security Committee, when he said the big boss could be Thaksin or his wife at the time, Khunying Potjaman Na Prombejara.

          The court said Mr. Chainarongs account could not substantiate the allegation, as it was only his assumption that the big boss was the former prime minister.

          The KTB loan case was submitted to the court on June 13, 2012 and the court accepted the case on July 1, 2012. The trial had to be suspended under the old law because Thaksin had fled the country.

          The case involves 27 defendants, including Thaksin.

          On August 26,2015 the Supreme Court sentenced 19 of 26 defendants to jail for their involvement in approving the loans.

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