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Thailand Live Friday 9 Dec 2011

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Thailand Live Friday 9 December 2011

News, Bits and Tweets

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Keep up to date with live updates from the news, hour by hour.

For breaking news,national, regional and international news updates on a daily basis only, this thread is closed to commentary so that those who wish to follow the news can find it here...

Commentary is still open for Thailand news in the relevant thread posted in News Clippings.

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Related topic: Thailand Live Thursday 8 Dec 2011

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POLITICS

Political prisoners, including Arisman, to be moved to new facility

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TRCT

Panel urges reconciliation

The Nation

File photo : Anant Chantarasoot

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TRCT concerned about increased prosecution under the lese-majeste law; calls for more judicious approach

The Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) has strongly recommended a different approach in dealing with criminal acts associated with the turbulent political conflict, which it said could be traced to the infamous share-concealment scandal of Thaksin Shinawatra.

In its second report, the commission, set up by the Abhisit government, has emphasised the need to differentiate politically-driven criminal acts from common suspected crimes. And this principle should not be limited to only the red shirts, whose tumultuous campaign was plagued with allegations of violent activities and met with a drastic government crackdown in May last year, the commission said.

"TRCT sees the prosecution of criminal cases according to the Royal Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations BE 2548 (2005), the offence of unlawful assembly of ten or more persons under Section 215 of the Criminal Code, and other relevant cases relating to incidents of political violence before and after the 19 September 2006 coup, including cases of lese majeste under Section 112 of Penal Code and Computer Related Crime Act BE 2550 (2007) as all being related to the political conflict," it said.

"TRCT believes that political conflict that has occurred in the past was a significant factor in later violence and violation of criminal law by various parties. The violence and violation of criminal law that occurred cannot be considered as normal social behaviour ... because the violation is fundamentally based upon political perspectives. Hence, even if such illegal behaviour affects and harms individuals and the public and requires that perpetrators be held legally accountable, criminal responsibility and criminal punishment may not conform to the punishment philosophy and may not render justice and contribute to resolving the conflict."

The commission led by Kanit na Nakhon made the following recommendations:

_ Accusations and prosecution be clarified to see if they are consistent with the exceptional circumstances and if accusations are unduly harsh.

_ Proceed in earnest with the temporary release of detainees.

_ Keep in mind accused persons and defendants are not villains or criminals as in regular criminal cases but are accused of committing an offence in order to achieve political goals. If they can't be granted temporary release, the government should arrange for their detention in an appropriate place.

_ The principle of criminal justice which uses criminal prosecution measures and punishment is not appropriate for the current situation in our country. It is thus appropriate to study and apply the theories of transitional justice and restorative justice.

_ Prosecutors should be requested to co-operate by delaying prosecution of these cases and by not taking them to court until collection of the relevant information is complete - correct and reliable.

_ Rehabilitation of all parties affected by violent incidents is an important condition for bringing about reconciliation. An ad-hoc committee should be set up to supervise this process.

_ The government, no matter how difficult it is, must be neutral.

_ Remuneration should be paid to defendants after a final judgement is made by the court to dismiss the case.

The TRCT also expressed its concern regarding the prosecution of individuals for lese-majeste offences under Section 112 of Criminal Code and Computer Related Crime Act BE 2550 (2007). "The increase in the number of cases could have a political impact. TRCT believes that although the government has the obligation to vigorously protect the monarchy, regarded by Thai people with the utmost reverence, from being defamed by inappropriate behaviour and acts, the use of criminal prosecution without due regard for criminal policy or control guidelines for proper enforcement during times of political conflict can create national and international complications, particularly in regard to freedom of expression," it said.

"The government should strictly and stringently proceed against those who defame and violate with malice against the monarchy. However, punishments should not be excessive or without direction or without regard to the sensitivity of the case as this might subsequently affect the monarchy domestically and internationally."

The TRCT report ended with harsh criticism of the Constitution Court verdict in the "hidden assets" case. It dubbed the ruling "The root cause of violent events in Thailand" and deplored the fact that nothing had been done regarding the share-concealment issue.

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-- The Nation 2011-12-09

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AMNESTY DECREE

Thousands of prisoners freed by His Majesty

The Nation

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A total of 12,000 inmates were released yesterday after being granted Royal Pardons on the occasion of His Majesty the King's 84th birthday.

Prisoner-release ceremonies were held nationwide, with the main one being presided over by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Bangkok's Klong Prem Central Prison, attended by 2,766 pardoned inmates from 15 prisons in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces. The inmates each received Bt500 pocket money for transport, swore oaths to be good members of society, and were blessed by Buddhist monks before many of them joyously reunited with their families.

Congratulating the inmates on their newfound freedom, Yingluck urged them to be grateful for the King's great mercy and to apply the King's self sufficiency economy philosophy to their everyday lives. She also urged them to turn over a new leaf by living good lives, to have confidence in their ability to live as part of Thai society - which she said was forgiving and openminded - and not to repeat their wrongdoings.

A total of 9,234 inmates were released from prisons upcountry. Among the 145 inmates freed from Loei Prison yesterday was singer Nathan Oman, who was convicted of fraud in March.

Saying he had felt remorse throughout his time in jail and that he appreciated the King's forgiveness and kindness, Nathan said he would live on the straight and narrow from now on. He said he intended to resume his singing career, as the time behind bars had given him focus and had inspired story ideas for songs and books.

Another 10,000 inmates will be released on December 18. Among them is Serm Sakhonrat, a former medical student who murdered and dismembered his girlfriend. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 1998 but his prison term was reduced five times. Serm said he was grateful for the monarch's kindness, vowing to be a good person and take care of his 68yearold mother. Serm said he planned to use his law degree, completed in prison, to help the poor after taking the necessary examinations to become a lawyer.

Under the Royal Pardon decree, over 10,000 other convicts will have their sentences reduced within 90 days.

Among those to have their sentences reduced but who were not freed this time are Dr Wisut Boonkasemsanti, a gynaecologist who killed and dismembered his wife, and former deputy police commissioner Chalor Kerdthes, who murdered the wife and son of a Thai jewellery businessman in a case related to the theft of jewels from the Saudi royal family. Both were originally sentenced to death, but their jail terms have been reduced to 21 years and 50 years respectively under this year's Royal Pardon.

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-- The Nation 2011-12-09

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EDITORIAL

Remembering His Majesty's efforts to promote sport

The Nation

Among his many talents, His Majesty the King is a renowned sailor, and he has also made great contributions to developing sport in the Kingdom

As Thai people from all walks of life and, in fact, people all around the world honoured His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's on his birthday last Monday - in this the auspicious year of his diamond jubilee - some might be surprised to learn that our beloved King is a world-class yachtsman.

It's rather difficult to encapsulate the incomparable contributions His Majesty the King has made to the domestic sports scene and to the men and women who participate in a wide range of sports in Thailand, but it was through sailing that he became internationally known as a sportsman.

Few things in life can give greater pleasure than sailing, and it's this sport for which His Majesty the King has a passion.

On April 29, 1966, His Majesty set out single-handed in his own handbuilt OK Dinghy named Weka, at a length of 13 feet, from Klai Kangwon Summer Palace in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, travelling 60 nautical miles to Toey Ngam Beach in Sattahip, Chon Buri. The voyage across the Gulf of Thailand took 17 hours to complete.

Nearly a year later, on December 16, His Majesty and his eldest daughter Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, then aged 16, shared the gold medal in the OK Dinghy class at the fourth Southeast Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games, hosted by Bangkok. The SEAP Games later became the Southeast Asian Games.

It is a sporting record never likely to be equalled. And His Majesty the King's sailing prowess has been a great source of inspiration to Thai athletes for almost five decades since.

December 16 is now celebrated nationwide as Thailand's National Sports Day, to commemorate His Majesty the King's significant success in sports, and sailing in particular.

In recognition of his enormous contributions to the development of sports generally, and to his prowess as an Enterprise and OK sailor, the International Olympic Committee in 1987 presented its highly prestigious "Insignia of the Olympic Order" to His Majesty at Chitrlada Palace.

"The King is not just a world-class yachtsman, but he has also participated in, and encouraged, many other sports," the then-president of the Olympic Committee of Thailand, the late Air Chief Marshal Dawee Chullasapya, was quoted as saying.

"The Olympic award was made not only to recognise His Majesty the King's skill as a dinghy sailor, but also to acknowledge the leading role he has played in promoting all sports in Thailand, in the region and internationally."

Although other monarchs - the King of Malaysia and King Olav of Norway - have also been awarded the Olympic "Medal of Honour", His Majesty is the only longest-reigning living monarch to receive such an award.

Among his numerous other talents, His Majesty is also a skilled carpenter, having built a number of sailing dinghies, converting a small backroom at Chitrlada Palace into his "boatyard". He has even used the lake in the middle of the Chitrlada Palace grounds for launching and for "shake-down" cruises.

Not long after His Majesty's international success, in order to turn sailing into a more exciting and popular activity, local regattas were organised around the country. They gradually became international events, with an increasing number of participants from several countries each year.

In 1987, His Majesty was once again at the helm of his OK dinghy, leading his own Royal Chitrlada Yacht Squadron in a regatta competition against the Royal Thai Navy, controlling the vessel marvellously to beat them soundly.

This regatta bodes well for the future of yacht racing in Thailand and the Phuket King's Cup Regatta in particular.

In fact, the Regatta, which was also founded in 1987, is well known as the largest sailing event of its kind in Asia. Earlier this week, on December 5, His Majesty the King's birthday, all the participating boats joined in an awe-inspiring "sail pass", and His Majesty was graciously donated the perpetual King's Cup Trophy. He is also the Royal Patron of the Phuket King's Cup Regatta.

A fitting tribute indeed.

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-- The Nation 2011-12-09

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OVERDRIVE

Cinderella and the non-stop-party government: Thai opinion

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Drivers plan protest against fuel price hikes

The Nation

Taxi, tuktuk and bus operators yesterday vowed to protest against the Energy Ministry's plan to start hiking the prices of their fuels on January 16.

The Cabinet has approved the ministry's proposal to raise the price of liquefied petroleum gas from Bt8.50 per litre to Bt14.50 in monthly steps of 40 satang, and natural gas for vehicles from Bt11.50 per kilogram to Bt16.30 in monthly steps of 50 satang.

Withoon Naewpanich, chairman of the Public Transport Service Cooperative Federation of Thailand, held a meeting at the Rattanakosin Hotel with about 50 representatives of drivers and operators and they agreed that the resolution would greatly hurt them and also the public because they would have to increase fares.

They will ask the energy minister to revoke the decision by December 31 and consider other options not involving gasprice hikes, he said.

If their request isn't granted, they will carry out various measures to protect their and the public's interests, Withoon warned.

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-- The Nation 2011-12-09

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