BANGKOK, 1 October 2014: Airports of Thailand reports August closed with a 10.69% decline in passengers passing through the Thai capital’s main aviation gateway, Suvarnabhumi airport. The country main gateway welcomed 4,010,934 passengers in August, compared to 4,490,981 during the same month last year. The data confirm independent assessments that indicated the tourism industry would [...] Read more...
BANGKOK, 1 October 2014: Double-billed IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific opened in Bangkok, Tuesday, with 800 exhibiting delegates looking to secure new MICE business for their hotels and destinations. The show continues to 2 October, hosted at the Bangkok Convention Centre, Central World. It continues to attract mainly loyal exhibitors from Asia, but there are some [...] Read more...
BANGKOK, 1 October 2014: Medical tourism is now a major market for Thailand’s tourism industry, although since the military coup and introduction of martial law, earlier this year, Bangkok’s main hospitals have seen a decline in business. Dermaster Personalised Beauty Institute communications director, Aporn Pornpiriyakulchai, told TTR Weekly during a site inspection last Monday that [...] Read more...
Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT)
On 24 September 2014, at about 16.30, two policemen, one intelligence army, two local ‘mafia’ and three unidentified man came to the Klong Sai Pattana Community in a Toyota, Fortuner, and a white Isuzu pickup truck. They told the villagers to leave the area within seven days. This is another attempt to intimidate the villagers to leave the area. The villagers were very terrified.
 
The Klong Sai Pattana Community has a legitimate right to stay on this land. This is pursuant to the decision and permission by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ARLO) to allow the community to stay in this land. This permission is pursuant the Resolution made during the meeting of the Committee to Solve Problems of the Land Reform Network of Thailand No. 1/2009, that was chaired by Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, now former Prime Minister, on 11 March 2009 at the Parliament.
 
This attempt to force the community to leave the land is wrong. Although the land has been given to the Klong Sai community, a large area of this land is still being illegally occupied by oil palm plantations for the past 30 years.  In fact the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ARLO) did file a case against the Jew Kung Juy Development Co. to evict them from the land and was successful both at the Court of First Instance and the Appeals Court. The case is now being appealed before the Supreme Court.
 
There have been many attempts to force the people to vacate their land. There have been much violence, and to date 3 community leaders have been assassinated. The violence against the community has been happening since August 2009.
 
Recently, on 16 August 2014, two local ‘mafia’ have brought 50 soldiers to conduct searches of eight houses belonging to members of Klong Sai Pattana Community. This was done without any court warrant.
 
This was followed by the incident of 24 September 2014, when they were told to leave their home and land in seven (7) days.
 
The community states that there has been an attempt to sell this land by the Oil Palm plantation.
 
Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT) would  hereby  like to call on the Thai Government, The National Human  Rights Commission(NHRC), The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Delegation of the European Commission to Thailand, Diplomatic community and all  other Stakeholders ,  to immediate  act to ensure :
  1. That action be taken against the all persons who have threatened and/or inflicted the violence, against the community including also the said members of the army and police;
  2. That steps to be taken to  prevent any attempt to harass or evict Klong Sai Pattana Community from their land;
  3. That steps be taken against any attempts to wrongly and/or illegally sell the said community land to any third party; and
  4. That all is done to ensure the wellbeing, happiness, security and protection of villagers in the Klong Sai Pattana Community
 
Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT) has been established with main bjectives including coordinating with the state to implement agricultural land reform based on the community land entitlement and the establishment of Land Management Fund.
        
Located in agricultural land reform zone, Klong Sai Pattana Community covers 906 rais (362 acres) of land in Moo 2, Tambon Sai Thong, Chaiburi District, Surat Thani Province and all villagers in the community are members of the Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT)
 
Read more...
BANGKOK, 1 October 2014: Thailand on Tuesday announced plans to give tourists wristbands carrying their personal details, as the kingdom falls under intense scrutiny over visitor safety following the murder of two British holidaymakers. Under the scheme hotels will distribute the wristbands to new arrivals. “If anything happens to them we will then know their [...] Read more...
Tourism authorities in Thailand are considering fitting tourists with ID bracelets so locals can identify foreigners who are "in trouble". The proposed ID bracelet scheme seems to be the latest in a series of haphazard responses to the brutal murder of two British backpackers on the southern island of Koh Tao. Read more...
Harrison George

The study tour by Election Commission officials to observe the recent Scottish referendum on independence has been widely criticized.  Some have noted that the Election Commission has not shown itself to be overly keen on organizing elections in this country, so why the interest in other countries? 

Others have pointed out that under the current constitution there is no referendum mechanism (and no voting at all, in fact, except among those, like the National Legislative Assembly, who have been pre-selected and can be relied on to vote correctly).  And of course independence, such as the Scottish electorate has just declined, is specifically, categorically and unconditionally banned by Section 1 of the constitution: ‘Thailand is one and indivisible kingdom.’

Claims of misuse of taxpayers’ money were fuelled by the holiday-type snaps of the EC tour group posted in the internet by some cynical sod (and aren’t we all grateful for cynical sods).  Unless of course polling and campaigning took place in castles and museums. 

And yet others have pointed out that Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn’s assertion to have learned an important lesson — “Each side fought with reasons” — was immediately belied by his personal and abusive attacks on critics of his trip.

So what is the point of an official observation of an activity in a foreign country that can never be carried out here?

I cannot claim to fathom the reasoning of officials on a freebie.  But such boondoggles are not as infrequent as you might think or hope.

There was, for example, the Town and Country Planning Department’s trip to Canada to observe best practice in snow clearance.  The seriousness of the exercise looked rather questionable when it was discovered that the trip to Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls was scheduled for July. 

But the officials who took part argued that certain aspects of the technology of snow clearance could be applied to floods.  This explains the unusually large numbers of bulldozers and backhoes seen stranded in deep water whenever the flood waters reach waist height.

A training course for traffic police in Japan also failed to achieve its objectives.  Trainees were asked to observe simulated traffic law infractions and deal promptly with the miscreants. 

The role-playing motorcyclist deliberately not wearing a crash helmet rode past the Thai officers, circled the block and went past again.  And again, with no action taken.  The trainers thought it necessary to alert them to what they had missed.

Suddenly realizing their error, the Thai policemen immediately tried to make amends – by setting off in pursuit on motorcycles while wearing their ordinary police caps.  The mass arrest that followed sadly brought a premature end to the training.

A study tour to Germany by a party of judges was instigated by someone in the judiciary getting hold of a copy of Streckfuss’ ‘Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté’.  And even more surprisingly, reading it. 

From the explanation of lèse majesté in other countries, it was learned that apart from modern Thailand, the most recent explosion of lèse majesté cases was seen in imperial Germany more than a century ago.  The judges wanted to know how the German political system managed to maintain a consistently high number of prosecutions, and, more importantly, why this had come to an end.  The lessons learned would be very valuable if applied to Thailand, they argued.

The judges were somewhat taken aback to find that Germany itself no longer has a majesté to lèse.  The emasculated lèse majesté law that lingers on the books only applies to foreign heads of state and has fallen into disuse. 

It was only after strenuous efforts by the Thai Embassy in Berlin that the judicial party was dissuaded from suing the Bundesverfassungsgericht, or constitutional court, for gross negligence in allowing matters to deteriorate to this sorry state.  It was impressed on the judges that questions of royal privilege were already a sensitive issue between the two countries.

One apparently ludicrous foreign spree has since turned out to be quite prescient.  Some years ago, a Patriotism Promotion class from the National Defence College visited major song-writing and film-making establishments around the world (including Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood).

At the time, criticism of the armed forces was still recognized as part of the right to freedom of expression and many ridiculed the idea of men in uniform learning skills from the entertainment industry that have traditionally been exclusively the work of the private sector.

‘Who expects a general to write pop songs or the screenplays for soap operas?’ said one wag at the time.

Now we know.


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).

 

Read more...
 
A Thai man said he was beaten up by police after he turned down a police offer of reward money if he agreed to be a witness in the murder case of two British tourists in Thailand’s tourist island of Koh Tao, southern Surat Thani Province, according to ASTV-Manager online.
 
The report says Pornprasit Sukdam, 37, on Tuesday complained to Kobchai Saowalak, kamnan (subdistrict head) of Koh Tao Subdistrict, and asked for protection. 
 
Pornprasit said the police detained him at 1.30 pm on Monday. During the interrogation, the police investigators asked him to agree to pretend to have knowledge of the incident, Pornprasit said. The police allegedly offered him a 700,000 baht (about 21,600 USD) reward and guaranteed him witness status. However, since he was not involved with the crime and did not have any knowledge related to it, Pornprasit declined the police offer. 
 
That made the police angry, he said. The police allegedly beat him up before releasing him on Monday at 6.30 pm.
 
He decided to tell his story to others since the police planned to interrogate him again on Tuesday and he feared being beaten up again.
 
He added that he does not plan to pursue a case against the police, but wants to assert his innocence. He is willing to cooperate with the police, but not by force.
 
Meanwhile, the kamnan of Koh Tao Subdistrict urged the police not to use violence with suspects and not to arrest a scapegoat. 
 
Pornprasit is a taxi driver on Koh Tao and member of the Sun Service Football team. A football match was held on the day of the murders. The team members are now the focus of the police investigation. 
 
The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found with severe head wounds on September 15. 
 
 

 

Read more...
iLaw
On 25 May 2014, three days after seizing the ruling power, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued the Announcement no. 37/2557 to empower the Military Court to have jurisdiction of all offences against Articles 107-112 in Chapter about the Monarchy and Articles 113-118 about national security of the Penal Code and all other breaches of Orders and Announcements issued by the NCPO which take place when the Announcement is effective.
 
That the Military Court is designated to deal with cases concerning the monarchy and security is indicative to the NCPO’s effort in earnest to heavily and seriously suppress the commission of such offences and that the normal course of justice process fails to satisfy the NCPO’s need.
 
Though sharing some similarities with a civilian Court, the Military Court’s procedure is markedly different for it provides for no appeal to a court of higher instances. A one-court system, the final decision can be made by the trial court. Another concerning aspect is the independence of the judges as they all have been recruited from military personnel. Given the abnormal political situation at present, any defendants or political suspects would often feel insecure and fear the deprivation of their rights in the course of justice should they have to have their cases tried in the Military Court.
 
Offences to be tried in the Military Court must take place prior to 25 May 2014 
 
Nevertheless, the NCPO Announcement no. 37/2557 stipulates clearly that any offences to be tried by the Military Court must take place “during the time the Announcement becomes effective”, meaning after 25 May 2014 onward and until the Announcement is revoked. Any offences that has taken place and has been completed prior to 25 May 2014, regardless of which categories they are, shall be tried in a normal civilian court.  
 
This is consistent with a principle of criminal law whereby an emphasis is placed on the date the commission of the offence takes place. No ex-post facto laws or no laws can be promulgated later to criminalize any act that has taken place prior to the existence of the law and in this case any offences that have taken place prior to the designated time shall not be tried by the Military Court.
 
The interpretation applies in the case against Weerayuth, an anti-coup activist, who is charged with breaching the prohibition against the assembly of five people upwards invoking the NCPO Announcement no. 7/2557. Since his action took place on 23 May 2014, prior to the issuance of the NCPO Announcement no. 37/2557, his case was therefore tried in the Pathumwan Municipal Court, a civilian court and he was convicted to one month of imprisonment with probation. 
 
Another similar case is Yutthasak, a taxi driver, who was reported by his passenger for violating Article 112. The offence took place on 28 January 2014, prior to the issuance of the Announcement no. 37/2557, and therefore his case was tried in the Criminal Court, a civilian court and he was convicted to two-year-and-six-month-imprisonment.  
 
The Article 112 case against Tom Dundee has already been indicted in the Military Court 
 
After the coup, the number of Article 112 cases has spiked. At least 14 persons have been arrested and held in custody and two other ongoing cases have been rushed in haste. One of them, Samak, has been held in custody by the order of the Military Court. He was accused of defacing a portrait of His Majesty the King in Chiang Rai Province. The incidence took place on 9 July 2014 and therefore falls under jurisdiction of the Military Court as per the Announcement no. 37/2557.
 
The inquiry officials have so far sought permission from a civilian court to hold all suspects in other cases in custody during the pretrial since the offences have been committed prior to the coup, except the case against Thanat, aka “Tom Dundee” who was accused of making a speech in violation of Article 112. The speech or the act took place since November 2013, but in June 2014, a video clip of his speech was uploaded to youtube. The officials determined that the act committed by Tom Dundee took place after 25 May 2014, or after the Announcement no. 37/2557 has become effective. Therefore, permission has been sought from the Military Court to hold him in custody and his lawyer has submitted an objection motion to the Military Court already.  
 
Slowly, ongoing Article 112 cases in civilian court are being transferred to the Military Court.
 
For example, an anonymous man has been reported for posting online messages prior to the coup. He was arrested on 25 May 2014, the same day the Announcement no. 37/2557 was issued. Therefore, it would not be possible that he would have committed his crime after the Announcement became effective. And prior to that, the permission to hold him in custody had been sought from the Criminal Court. And by granting an extension of his custody, the Court affirmed its jurisdiction over the case. But on 19 August 2014, closer to the date the indictment has to be made, he was brought to the Military Court as the officials were now seeking permission from the Military Court to extend his custody. It was later reported that the civilian public prosecutor decided to not take this case anymore and he deemed the case does not fall under jurisdiction of a civilian court. As a result, the inquiry officials have to change their course of action and now sought permission from the Military Court to hold the man in custody as well as are preparing case file for indictment to be submitted by the judge advocate to the Military Court.  
 
Later on 22 August 2014, Kathawuth who has been reported as a result of his internet radio clips was brought to the Military Court, even though the clips were produced and broadcast before 25 May 2014 and previously, the officials had always sought for permission from the Criminal Court to extend his pretrial custody. And by granting the extension of his custody, the Court affirmed its jurisdiction over the case. Then, closer to the date the indictment has to be made, he was brought to the Military Court as the officials were now seeking permission from the Military Court to extend his custody, similarly to the case of the anonymous man. The inquiry officials claimed the public prosecutors decided to not take this case citing that it was not under jurisdiction of a civilian court, but a military court.
 
This anonymous man and Kathawuth applied for bail with the Military Court to no avail. The Court claimed that while the bail was submitted, the inquiry officials were present in the courtroom and that the inquiry officials have indicated their objection to the bail citing high penalty rate of the charges. In addition, the Court claimed that after reviewing circumstances around the cases, it was deemed that a temporary release would become an obstacle or would disrupt the investigation or would lead to the tampering with evidence.  
 
And then on 22 August 2014, it was reported that the anonymous man has already been indicted with the Military Court, and during the indictment, he was not brought from the prison to appear in the Court, different from the process conducted in a civilian court.  
 
It is now interpreted that by posting an online message, one remains culpable to legal action forever
 
In the custody petition submitted to the Military Court in the case against Kathawuth, the inquiry officials state that “The person has been held in custody by the inquiry officials for interrogation all along and he has been brought to the Criminal Court for extending his custody for seven times already. In this case, it was found that the offences were committed from 28 March 2014 to 27 May 2014, and they had to be dealt with by invoking the National Council for Peace and Order Announcement no. 37/2557 dated 25 May 2014 regarding “Offences under Jurisdiction of the Military Court”.  
 
Basically, the officials now claim that the commission of the offences took place from 28 March 2014 to 27 May 2014 in order to time it beyond the date the Announcement was issued on 25 May 2014. The trick makes the case fall under jurisdiction of the Military Court. And by making such interpretation, it means that the culpability of online posting shall remain as long as the content is still available online. This kind of interpretation seems wrong.  
 
The commission of an offence related to online posting should be completed the moment the post appears online. And the day the posting is made should be counted as a single day during which the commission of the offence takes place and it does not matter how long the content continues to appear online since it is a subsequent result of the commission of the offence. It is impossible to interpret the continuity of the time an online posting is made and extend it to several days.  
 
If the interpretation is made correctly and the commission of the offence is regarded to have taken place only within a single day, then the offences allegedly committed by Kathawuth and the anonymous man should have taken prior to 25 May 2014 and do not fall under jurisdiction of the Military Court. It is believed that the inquiry officials in charge of the cases had been interpreting the law this way since the beginning and therefore had been seeking permission from the Criminal Court to extend their custodies. And the judges must have concurred with this interpretation and therefore have granted seven extensions of their custodies in a row.  
 
Meanwhile, civilian public prosecutors, judge advocates and judges of the Military Court deem it possible to interpret that the cases fall under jurisdiction of the Military Court.
 
 
 
 
What will happen if Article 112 cases are tried in the Military Court?
 
Should we accept the interpretation regarding the day the commission of the offence takes place and the jurisdiction of the Military Court this way, it is likely that all ongoing Article 112 cases and other cases related to online posting, which used to be adjudicated by a civilian court, will now be transferred to and tried by the Military Court.
 
As far as we know, there are at least four cases including the cases against Apichart, Chaliaw, Thanet and a student from Mahanakhon Technology College which are involved with online posting, though there will be more similar cases in the future.  
 
At present, there has been no verdict made by the Military Court to help us understand the way the hearings will be conducted, the Court’s interpretation and its conviction. It remains to be seen if the Military Court will adopt the same approach as a civilian court in their adjudication of Article 112 cases and other cases involving political belief.  
 
Meanwhile, defendants who have found their cases transferred to the Military Court must not accept the way the law is interpreted and may feel insecure as far as the justice process is concerned. They shall be another group of people who have not been bestowed with “happiness” as yet.  
 
  • Click here for detail of Kathawuth’s case
  • Click here for detail of Yutthasak’s case 
  • Click here for detail of Weerayuth’s case
  • Click here for detail of Samak’s case
  • Click here for detail of Tom Dundee’s case 
 
Read more...
BANGKOK, 30 September 2014: Chinese tourists are selecting Bangkok as one of the top destinations for travel during the national Golden Week holidays, 1 to 7 October. According to the third annual Chinese International Travel Monitor conducted by Hotels.Com, Chinese travellers selected four Thai cities in their top 10 favourite searches for Golden Week holidays. [...] Read more...
 
 
After police last week charged and fined three anti-coup student activists with littering after they held a commemoration of the 2006 coup, two more student activists have been summoned to hear charges related to the event. 
 
On 25 September, police charged Sirawith Sirathiwat, Saeksan Saisueb, and Thongdam Keawphanpruek with violating Article 10 of the Cleanliness and Order Act and fined them 1,000 baht each. 
 
The three are active members of the Thai Student Centre for Democracy (TSCD). 
 
According to the TSCD Facebook page, two more members of the group from Chulalongkorn University have been summoned to hear charges at 9 am on 1 October, at the office of the Metropolitan Police Division 6, Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon District. 
 
Update: The police has rescehlduled the appointment to 10am at Prathumwan police station. 
 
The group expect that the two will face the same charges and fines. They also announced on their Facebook page that they will collect donations to pay for the fines that morning in front of the police office. 
 
“If the police fine us again, we don’t have enough money to pay for the fines. We hope that people will help donate toward the fine,” states the TSCD.
 
On 19 September they commemorated the 2006 military coup by putting up a cloth banner on a pedestrian bridge over Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in front of the Thairath newspaper office where Nuamthong Praiwan, a taxi driver who drove into a military tank during the coup in 2006 later hanged himself. He committed suicide to protest against the 2006 coup. 
 
The police stated that the group should have informed the authorities before putting up the sign.
 
 
Read more...
Wimon Leangaroon's family has been making Chinese prayer cushions for over a century. Each kneeler is handmade to order, but she is concerned the skill may be lost as her family is now Bangkok's only prayer-cushion maker. (Video by Chumporn Sangvilert and Arusa Pisuthipan) Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
 
Akaradej (last name withheld due to privacy concerns) on Tuesday pleaded guilty before the Court to posting comments deemed lèse majesté on Facebook. In another case, a former Pheu Thai MP accused of defaming the monarchy during a red-shirt TV programme, pleaded not guilty and witness hearings were scheduled. 
 
The Court will read the verdict on the Akaradej case on 4 November. 
 
Akaradej is an undergraduate student from Mahanakorn University of Technology. He was accused of posting messages deemed lèse majesté on Facebook in early 2014. It was his Facebook “friend” who reported the case to Sutthisan Police Station. Police arrested him at his house in June 2014. The Court denied his bail request. He has been detained in Bangkok Remand Prison.
 
Meanwhile, on Monday, Sgt Prasit Chaisrisa, a former Pheu Thai MP, pleaded not guilty and the court scheduled the prosecution witness hearings on 20, 24, 25 February 2015 and defence witness hearings on 26 and 27 February 2015.
 
Prasit was accused of defaming the King during a TV programme called “Stop Overthrowing Democracy,” broadcast on a red-shirt satellite TV channel on 7 May 2014. A staff member of the military Judge Advocate General’s Office filed a police complaint against him. He is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison. The court has denied his request for bail. 
 
 
Read more...