“We sent 139,468 baht and 2,700kg of emergency relief goods to the Philippines on November 29,” Bernardita Sanchez, an iBless committee member, told the Phuket Gazette yesterday.
Some of the iBless members accompanied the shipment, handing over the cash and goods to three organizations – the Kabalikat Civic Communicators Association, Guardians' Center Foundation, and the Diocesan Social Action Center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose de Antique. Read more...
Phuket Vice Governor Somkiat Sangkhaosutthirak delivered the news yesterday at the site of The Crest resort, on Phra Barami Road, where derelict resort buildings have been left to crumble for at least the past four years.
At the inspection of the five-rai site, local resident Utaiwan Van-Zandt explained to Vice Governor Somkiet that she filed a complaint in 2009 after the resort was built and access to her land was cut off. Read more...
Abhisit Vejjajiva is accused of authorising use of live ammunition against protesters during crackdown on 2010 demonstrations
Thailand's opposition leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been formally charged with murder amid political upheaval that analysts say could see current anti-government protests lead to violence.
Abhisit, 49, stands charged with the deaths of a 43-year-old man and 14-year-old girl during a military crackdown against protests in 2010, when 90 people were killed and 2,000 injured during violent protests against his leadership.
The UK-born and Oxford-educated Democrat party leader was indicted along with his former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban – who has been leading month-long protests against the current PM, Yingluck Shinawatra – for authorising the use of live ammunition against protesters and deploying snipers. The two deny the charges against them.
The political scientist Panitan Wattanayagorn – himself a former spokesman for Abhisit's government – told the Guardian the indictment could be used to stoke further protests calling for Yingluck's resignation, which have so far seen five people killed and hundreds injured.
"The timing of this formal charge by the state attorney could be seen by the demonstrators as an injustice … against their leaders, Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep, which could be used at the rallies to increase the intensity of the protests," he said.
"As the police, Department of Special Investigations [Thailand's FBI] and state attorney are seen as tools of the current government, they may say this is a politically motivated case."
Abhisit was released on £34,280 bail and a pre-trial hearing is expected in March next year. Suthep, who in 2010 headed a crisis control centre that authorised "live fire" zones during the protests, did not attend Thursday's hearing, as he was leading further demonstrations against Yingluck's government, a spokesman said.
"It just so happens that he's in the middle of this movement and it's very important, so there's no reason he couldn't postpone [the court date]," said Akanat Promphan of Suthep's People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). "This movement is not motivated by himself but by the people, and the people are not here to help Mr Suthep with his charges but because they want change. They want reform."
The charges against Abhisit – who came to power after a 2006 military coup ousted Yingluck's brother, the former PM Thaksin – come at a time of significant political unrest. Hundreds of thousands of yellow-shirted anti-government protesters have taken to the streets demanding an end to Yingluck's government, which they see as a proxy administration led by her brother, who lives in self-exile in Dubai to escape corruption charges that he claims are politically motivated.
Although Yingluck dissolved parliament on Monday and has called for snap elections, the protesters – who stand behind Abhisit and Suthep – want to see her ousted and an unelected "people's council" installed.
"I will do everything to stop the next election," Suthep said of the planned snap polls. "I'm confident that I can do it."
Ultra-royalists, such as Dr Tul Sittisomwong of the Citizen Protecting Homeland, have vowed to stand behind Abhisit and Suthep, whatever the charges against them.
"At the time, he was PM and he had to do [that] to keep the peace," said Tul of Abhisit's murder charges. "I support Abhisit and if he needs a witness, I will agree to be a witness for him."
Analysts warn that the indictment, coupled with Yingluck's call for elections, could further stoke an already volatile situation, sparking further protests and potential violence. Government supporters, known as red shirts, have warned that they will lead their own protests in support of Yingluck and that Suthep "should be worried" by their numbers.
"[Yingluck's party] Puea Thai have obviously raised the stakes by calling a snap election, essentially daring the opposition to 'put up or shut up,'" said the IHS Asia analyst Omar Hamid. "[The] yellow-shirt protests are likely to continue, because an election was never the objective of the yellow shirts, as they know they are unlikely to win."
However Suthep, a career politician who stepped down as opposition MP to lead these protests, remains undeterred.
"We will escalate our protest until you and the rest of the Shinawatra family are unable to stand it any more," Suthep publicly warned Yingluck this week.
Suthep claims the government has violated the constitution in several ways and has vowed reform under his "people's council". In return, he has been charged with insurrection, but as yet there has been no attempt to arrest him.
As protests continue against government that replaced him, Abhisit Vejjajiva is accused over deaths during 2010 uprising
Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand's opposition leader and previous prime minister, has been formally charged with murder in a development that has the potential to further inflame protests by his supporters demanding the resignation of the current government.
Abhisit stands charged over the deaths of a 43-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl during a crackdown on anti-government protests during 2010 when he was in power. The Red Shirt movement had taken to the streets in support of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was thrown out as prime minister in a 2006 military coup.
Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, now holds office as prime minister and the protesters on the streets demanding her ousting are aligned with Abhisit.
About 90 people were killed in the 2010 crackdown. Other cases are still pending against Abhisit.
In 2010 the Red Shirt protesters occupied downtown Bangkok for months. Abhisit's government approved the use of live ammunition under limited conditions and deployed sharpshooters during the demonstrations. He has denied the charges against him.
In the face of the current protests, Yingluck Shinawatra has dissolved parliament and called elections but rejected demonstrators' demands to stand aside immediately and hand power to an unelected council.
Protesters announced they cut off electricity to the prime minister's office compound on Thursday and demanded that police abandon the premises.
The protesters have threatened to force their way in if police don't leave. Police attempts to negotiate were rebuffed, but they did not withdraw immediately.
Police confirmed that power had been cut to some buildings in the compound, collectively called Government House.
Protesters also cut barbed wire placed on top of the steel fence surrounding the compound while police stationed nearby looked on. Yingluck Shinawatra was not in her offices at the time
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy premier also accused of murder during the 2010 protests, has asked police and military chiefs to meet him by Thursday evening and choose their side in the crisis.
The politically powerful army, which has staged or attempted 18 coups in the past 80 years, has said it does not want to get involved this time but may mediate.
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“The fence was accidentally electrified by a frayed wire,” said Lt Peerasit Noopayan of the Cherng Talay Police.
A nearby light pole was leaning to one side, and the frayed wire which supplies it with electricity came into contact with the fence, electrifying it, a rescue worker said. Read more...
Also on the bill of performers to entertain the crowds are renowned Thai country music bands Maleehuana and Kangkeng, and nationwide star Bow Wee.
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When Kotchamon Boonraksa, 38, returned to the house in Rawai an hour later, the doors and windows were locked.
“I called his phone again and again, but he didn’t answer,” she said. Read more...
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