BANG SARAY, 25 July 2014: From August, a select group of lucky thrill-seekers, will experience Cartoon Network’s first waterpark that is due to open at site just south of Pattaya. Initially, in a pre-opening period, these invited guests and annual pass holders will be the only members of the public to sample the world’s first [...] Read more...
Kem Issara
The fate of lèse majesté detainees under the junta is perhaps not much different than under past democratic governments -- unwarranted lengthy detention without bail remains the order of the day.
 
Akradet E., a third-year engineering student at Mahanakorn University of Technology, was denied bail for the fourth time on Tuesday. 
 
Akradet’s father, Surapol, made a plea to the court with a 150,000 baht surety that the university required registration on 5-9 August so that he could be enrolled for the fourth year when classes reopen.
 
The Criminal Court said there was no justification to change the refusal of bail since the defendant was an educated adult who knew of his acts and detention would prevent possible flight.
 
“I’m quite upset about the bail denials and worried about his educational future,” said Surapol after learning of the fourth rejection since his 24-year-old son was arrested on 18 June at an apartment in Bangkok’s Nong Chok district.
 
He was alleged to have posted remarks on Facebook against the monarchy and a complaint was made against him in March this year.
 
Chaleaw J., 55, a tailor born in the North Eastern province of Chaiyaphum, said he has already requested bail twice, but hoped his wife would file for bail again soon. He planned to confess once the trial began and hoped to seek royal pardon as soon as possible. 
 
Chaleaw, a Bangkok resident, was a self-taught computer geek who listened to all radio stations including online red-shirt radio programmes. He attended rallies only a few times as he was busy with his military/police uniform tailoring work which also involved his two younger sisters.
 
The soft-spoken tailor said he had stored hundreds of voice clips, mostly songs, on 4shared.com, a free file sharing and storage website, as he did not have time to listen to all the downloaded items, and saved them for later.  
 
There were a few speeches by a red-shirt radio programme host named Banphot that he also stored there, hoping to get the gist later without intending to share them with anyone else.
 
“In fact, I mostly forgot what I had stored there,” said Chaleo who was detained for seven days after reporting to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 3 June. 
 
He got special treatment -- while most people got 1-2 rounds of interrogation, he got more. The first round took about one hour, and the second and third rounds took 4-5 hours each. The poorly-educated Chaleo was also twice tested by a lie-detector before being brought to the Technology Crime Suppression Division on 9 June to hear lèse majesté charges and offences under the Computer Crime Act.
 
He was able to return home for just one night after he requested bail with an 800,000 baht surety, but the next morning the request was denied by the court. He has since been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison.
 
Rung Sira is the penname of a well-known 51-year-old poet and pioneer cyber activist. He said he was caught while on his way to a neighbouring country to wait for his application for Person of Concern status to be processed by the UN refugee agency.
 
“On 24 June, some 40 fully-equipped officers raided and arrested my daughter and my niece and nephew in Songkhla trying to nail me with something. I knew that I could not stay idle so I tried to contact the UNHCR to seek asylum status but then I was intercepted in Kalasin,” said Rung.
 
He said he was not assaulted or tortured but was searched for drugs and weapons, but the police found nothing.
 
Rung’s poems and his online articles and comments were passionate and critical of the elite establishment. He said the people’s movement under the banner of the United Democratic Front Against Dictatorship, the main faction of the red shirts, was finished and the future of the country lay in the hands of individuals.
 

 

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Economists have expressed positive sentiments towards economic growth in Thailand after the military intervention. They lauded the military’s swift clamp down on corruption and recalibrated focus on the economy. The military’s actions have facilitated a better environment for growth and bolstered investors’ confidence. 
 
On Wednesday, the Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS), Chulalongkorn University, organized a public forum titled “The Macroeconomic Impact of Thailand’s Military Intervention”. Discussants representing both foreign and Thai organizations were unanimous in their views that the recent military coup has brought about economic stability and projected economic growth for 2015. 
 
Panelists invited were Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of MFC Asset Management Plc,, Hiroshi Yakame, Regional head of Greater Mekong Sub-Region, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Leigh Scott-Kemmis, President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Thailand, and Supavud Saicheua, Managing Director of Phatra Securities Public Company Limited. The keynote address was delivered by Tetsuya Iguchi Editor-in-Chief, Nikkei Inc and the discussion was moderated by Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Director of ISIS Thailand. 
 
It is noted that the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has indicated a need for self-censorship and imposed heavy restrictions on the media and academics since it took the power on 22 May.
 
The discussants: (Left to Right) Hiroshi Yakame, Narongchai Akrasanee, Thitinan Pongsudhirak (Moderator),  Supavud Saicheua, and Leigh Scott-Kemmis. 
 
According to Narongchai, economic conditions improved when the military intervened. He said that it is proven through historical events that economic growth followed military intervention. A contraction in GDP was initially expected, but now we are looking towards a trajectory.
 
The Japanese have similarly welcomed the junta’s quick measures and attention towards the economy. Yakame acknowledged that the notion of ‘martial law’ and ‘coup’ sounded intimidating at first but “concerns have decreased” as the military ensured public services like transportation continued functioning. 
 
Nine coups have taken place since the establishment of Japanese Chamber of Commerce but the Japanese have remained unwavering in their support of Thailand, he said. 
 
While the Japanese have demonstrated their support towards Thailand, the same cannot be said for Australians. Scott-Kemmis stated that Thai trade and investment in Australia has surpassed Australian trade and investment in Thailand. This can be attributed to the Thai state’s poor productivity growth and lack of flexibility.
 
“Deteriorating enforcement of law has affected everything else,” he said and that it is necessary to “get back to an effective Rule of Law”. Additionally, Thailand’s “fragmented bureaucracy makes it difficult to effect change”, and as a result, the “banking and securities sectors are 50 years behind”. Therefore, the military has to step up on reforms and enforcement of the Rule of Law. 
 
That being said, Scott-Kemmis has acknowledged that since the coup, more Thai associations have been coming forward with recommendations to enhance the business environment, he reckons that things are getting better in the post coup era.  
 
Narongchai lets on that major tax and state enterprise reforms are on the agenda. There is a need to address enterprises that have a “propensity for losing money”. He proposes “less government and more governance” as Thailand requires a sustainable economy under good governance, whatever the mode of government. 
 
 
Attendees of the public forum organized by ISIS on Wednesday 
 
“The NCPO has tried to distinguish itself from corrupted civilian governments by coming down hard on corruption” said Supavund. 
Narongchai said the 2014 coup is very different from the coup in 2006. “The 2006 military government was purely after Thaksin, akin to a Tom and Jerry race. Unlike the previous coup, the 2014 junta hardly mentioned Thaksin, and are more concerned with developing and improving Thailand”. 
 
Despite all the positive vibes, the military continues to have its limitations. According to Thitinan, “the NCPO is trying to play God, but doing so is difficult”, the challenge now is for the military to clamp down on illegal activity evenly and ensure lasting results. Presently, the military has been taking swift action against mafia activity (Motorcycle taxis, airport taxis, lottery tickets) however, the difficult part will be to clamp down on “big fishes like the airport duty free monopoly”. 
 
 
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BANGKOK (AP) — A new temporary constitution gives Thailand’s military government sweeping powers in the run-up to a planned 2015 election, and a senior army official says the junta leader could serve as interim premier. Thailand adopted the charter following the May 22 coup to allow an interim legislature and Cabinet to begin governing the Read more...
Last night, the 2014 interim constitution was gazetted (the original in Thai is available from here).* The interim constitution comprises 48 clauses that will be in use until the new constitution is drafted. See Saksith’s post here for his take on the interim constitution. If anyone spots any mistakes, please e-mail bangkokpundit@gmail.com or point out on Read more...