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  • PM urges protesters to hold off rallies until Covid-19 crisis has ended

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha called on anti-government groups to consider putting off plans to hold rallies at least until the Covid-19 outbreak is over.

    He added that Thais should unite in ending the Covid-19 crisis before focusing on political issues.

    He made this appeal in a televised address on Thursday (September 17) evening.

    Anti-government groups have been planning to hold a major rally in Bangkok on Saturday to demand amendments to the charter, dissolution of the House and an end to intimidation of government critics.

    Prayut said rallies at this time would put Thailand at the risk of a second wave of Covid-19 infections, which would affect the livelihoods of more than 10 million people and further exacerbate the economic situation. He warned that people should not do anything that would prompt another lockdown.

    The prime minister said he has heard protesters’ call for changes, adding, “I respect your opinions, but today Thailand is feeling the pain that we have to urgently tackle first, and that is to mitigate the economic losses brought on by the outbreak. We should not worsen the situation.”

    Prayut also warned that political unrest would delay economic recovery, as it would dent investors’ confidence and deter tourists from visiting Thailand once the borders are open. Rallies will also shift the government’s focus from solving economic problems.

    He explained that many places are already experiencing a second wave of infections, but Thailand has been able to successfully curb transmissions thanks to the collaboration of related parties.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Premier to name finance minister next month

      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has made it known he will name a new finance minister next month, adding that it also depends on whether candidates approached are willing to take the post.

      Gen Prayut said that he has given himself until next month to consider candidates and appoint the new finance minister.

      When asked if the candidates speculated by the media recently had been approached for the post, the prime minister said: "Have all the candidates mentioned in the media been chosen by me? I have said nothing. Where did you get the names from?"

      Gen Prayut said that the candidates he has approached are capable people and that a new minister will be named once he makes a decision. All this follows the sudden resignation of Predee Daochai as finance minister earlier this month.

      According to media reports, the candidates who are being approached to become the new finance minister are former permanent secretary for the Ministry of Finance Somchai Sujjapongse, and former president of the Government Savings Bank, Chartchai Phayuhanawee.

      Mr Predee, a former president of Kasikornbank, cited health problems when he made the shock announcement on Sept 1 that he was resigning as finance minister after less than a month in the post. His resignation took effect on Sept 2.

      But according to media reports, Mr Predee disagreed with his deputy, Santi Promphat of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), over the reshuffle of high-ranking officials in the Ministy of Finance, in particular who should head the Excise Department.

      Bhumindr Harinsuit, vice president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said that the prime minister should appoint a new finance minister swiftly in order to oversee the implementation of measures to stimulate an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

      Commenting on the candidates tipped by the media to be the next finance minister, Mr Bhumindr said he does not mind who takes the post, so long as they have what it takes to do the job.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Prayut thanks all concerned for cooperation

        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked government officials and the people for their cooperation in maintaining law and order during the rally of the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration which ended on Sunday morning, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.

        Mr Anucha said Gen Prayut praised police for providing security for the demonstrators.

        Gen Prayut also commended the authorities and the demonstrators for avoiding confrontations and provocations, complying with the government's wish to allow people to fully exercise their right to freedom of expression in a democracy within the scope of the law, he said.

        "The prime minister asks all Thai people for their continued cooperation to overcome various obstacles and challenges facing us," said Mr Anucha.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • Little more.

          Thai PM thanks police and protesters for the peaceful conduct of the protest

          Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has thanked the police and the anti-government protesters for the peaceful way in which the rally, held yesterday and which concluded today, was conducted and urged all Thai people to join hands with the Government in facing the pressing challenges being confronted by the country, said Government Spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri on Sunday.

          Protest leaders called off the protest at Sanam Luang after their ten-point manifesto, about the reform of the Monarchy to be submitted to the Privy Council, was received by Pol Lt-Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police from Panasaya Sitthijirawattanakul.

          Meanwhile, Royal Thai Police Deputy Spokesman Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen told a news conference that the protesters’ manifesto will be submitted to the Privy Council as quickly as possible, in accordance with procedure, and that all the barriers erected to prevent protesters from getting close to Government House will be removed by the end of the day.

          Regarding the protesters’ plaque, which was installed in the grounds of Sanam Luang early this morning by the protesters, to symbolize the revival of the goals of the Khana Ratsadon, which staged the 1932 Siamese Revolution to overthrow absolute Monarchy, Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tavichai, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that the symbolic marker was “an addition which does not belong in Sanam Luang” which should be removed later.

          He said that the protest leaders had allegedly committed multiple offences by holding a protest at Sanam Luang without prior permission from the police, overstaying at Sanam Luang beyond its closing hours and installing the plaque on ground which has been declared an archaeological site.

          He further said that a team of about 40 police officers will examine the recorded speeches of all the speakers to determine any of the statements made on stage violate the law.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Thai PM hands out special grant to over 1 mln village health volunteers

            Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday transferred 3,500 baht (about 112.57 U.S. dollars) in cash each to over 1 million village health volunteers nationwide, a senior government official said.

            According to Public Health Ministry spokeswoman Panprapa Yongtrakul, the prime minister provided the money as a special grant for 1.05 million village health volunteers, who have worked hard to carry out anti-pandemic measures in all provinces of the country.

            The special grant, directly transferred to individual bank accounts of those village health volunteers, was considered a retroactive pay covering a period from March to September, worth 500 baht (16.08 U.S. dollars) each month, she said.

            The Prayut government has also arranged domestic leisure tours with some financial support for the village health volunteers.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Prime Minister sued by former immigration chief over transfer to PM’s Office

              Thailand’s Former Immigration Bureau Commissioner, Pol Lt-Gen Surachet Hakparn, lodged a complaint with the Central Administrative Court today, accusing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of abuse of power when ordering his transfer to an inactive post in the PM’s Office

              Mr. Sitthi Ngarmlamyuang, Surachet’s lawyer, told the media today (Tuesday) that it has been one year and five months since the former immigration chief was transferred and yet no panel has been set up to investigate him.

              Moreover, he said that the Prime Minister ordered Surachet’s transfer without an investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission or the Office of the Auditor-General.

              The lawyer said that Surachet was forced to take the post of an advisor at the PM’s Office and he has the right to be reinstated, if there are no good grounds for his original transfer, adding that Surachet has petitioned the Prime Minister for a review of his transfer, but to no avail and, therefore, he has to resort to the courts for justice.

              He claimed that most of the 90 officials transferred to the PM’s Office have been reinstated after they were cleared of wrongdoing.:

              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • PM urges UN members to keep faith in multilateral system and shun anti-globalisation efforts

                Adherence to the multilateral system and unity among member countries are important to overcome the Covid-19 crisis, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday while addressing the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video conference.

                The prime minister congratulated the chairman of the meeting on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the UN.

                "During the past 75 years, the United Nations and member countries have overcome various challenges without hesitation," he said.

                "This year, the world has faced the Covid-19 outbreak that has caused severe impacts on people's lives, economy and society. However, this tremendous challenge will prove that adherence to the multilateral system and unity among member countries are the way to overcome this crisis."

                Prayut asked countries to believe in cooperation with each other.

                "Every country must believe in cooperation with each other and be unwavering against nationalism and anti-globalisation, which will help create unity and encourage us to overcome the crisis because it is clear that no one can face the challenge alone, and this is the future we want," he said.

                Prayut wished a quick recovery for Covid-19 patients in all countries, and urged medical personnel organisations around the world who are fighting the pandemic to be safe and achieve success.

                He outlined Thailand's measures to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, including Covid-19 vaccine development.

                "The Thai government has cooperated with international partners on Covid-19 vaccine development for a while and I suggest that every country must have the right to seek Covid-19 vaccines and antiviral drugs equally, so this is the United Nations' duty to do so," he added.:

                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Prayut: New finance minister next week

                  Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ended speculation that outgoing finance permanent secretary Prasong Poontaneat could be the new finance minister.

                  He said the new finance minister will be a familiar name, but it will not be Mr Prasong, and will be announced next week.

                  Gen Prayut said reports that Mr Prasong, former transport minister Arkom Termpittayapaisith and Krairit Euchukanonchai were in the running for the job were not correct.

                  Mr Kraisit is board chairman of PTT Plc and Krungthai Bank.

                  All three were rumoured to be candidates to replace former banker Predee Daochai, who stunningly resigned from the portfolio after less than a month in office.

                  Mr Prasong fuelled speculation when he tendered his resignation last week, a move seen by some as preparation for taking a cabinet post.

                  His long civil service career ends on Sept 30.:
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • Thailand’s PM dismisses speculation over formation of a national government

                    Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan have dismissed speculation that governing coalition parties will join with the opposition Pheu Thai Party to form a national government.

                    “You go and ask the one who spread the rumour,” said General Prawit, as he pointed his finger at a group of reporters at Government House today.

                    Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, meanwhile, shrugged off speculation that he, the Prime Minister and Mr. Chatchai Promlert, the interior Permanent Secretary, are considering setting up a political party.

                    He said that he is not an expert in politics and that the idea of setting up a party has never crossed his mind.

                    Responding to the same question from a reporter, the Prime Minister just said “Sawatdee” (good day) as he abruptly walked away from the reporters, while mumbling that he already had a headache with just one party.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Prayut ready to listen to ideas from big businesses

                      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will meet representatives of companies in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) on Thursday to learn about progress in their project development as well as listen to ideas on how the zone can be further developed.

                      The meeting will take place at Laem Chabang, Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow said.

                      Present at the meeting will be representatives of some 16 major companies, including PTT, Amata Corporation, WHA Industrial Development and Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand).

                      Also attending will be some ministers, including Supattanapong, Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, the government's spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.

                      Targeting big earners

                      Meanwhile, Supattanapong said the Centre for Economic Situation Administration (CESA) will study new economic stimulus packages on October 7 to boost domestic consumption.

                      The new package will target the upper middle class who earn a high salary, such as encouraging them to co-pay for products and services, he added.

                      “They may get subsidies in the form of tax returns,” he said.

                      On September 29, the Cabinet gave the go-ahead to a three-month economic stimulus package in a bid to stimulate domestic consumption.

                      Under the Kon La Khreung (Let’s Go Halves) scheme, 10 million people will get daily discounts on their shopping of up to Bt150, capped at Bt3,000 per person. The scheme will open for merchants to register online from Thursday.

                      Under the second scheme, 14 million welfare cardholders will receive an extra monthly discount of Bt500 on their shopping from October 23 to December 31.

                      Supattanapong said he also wants to promote Bangkok as an international hub for major foreign companies by cashing on the capital’s strong infrastructure and competitive office rents and living cost.
                      He also wants to woo foreign investment in real estate.

                      On September 16, CESA approved in principle amendments to the criteria of granting permanent residence to foreigners in a bid to woo more investment.

                      The centre is considering the option of granting permanent residence to buyers of condominium units, provided applicants do not mortgage, sell or transfer this asset for five years after purchase.

                      Gradual recovery

                      Supattanapong said that Thailand’s economic indicators have improved. Thailand has effectively handled the outbreak and continues to launch measures to revive the sapping economy.

                      He is confident that the Thai economic growth will return to the pre-outbreak level within two years.

                      He said the key economic driver is the private sector investment and it is time for the private companies to stop fearing the Covid-19 outbreak.

                      He added that some private companies have continued to invest, because the interest rate is low and the price of construction materials is dropping.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has thanked leading corporations for expanding their investments, especially in the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

                        Gen Prayut met the chief executive officers of 16 corporations based in Thailand and overseas in the customs house at the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Chon Buri on Thursday.

                        They firms included PTT Plc, SCG, WHA Corp, Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation (Thailand) and Hitachi Asia. All have invested in the EEC.

                        Mr Anucha said Gen Prayut conveyed his thanks to the corporations for their continued expansion of businesses, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The investments serve as proof of their confidence in the economy, Gen Prayut said.

                        The premier assured the investors the government has laid a firm foundation for logistical and infrastructure developments with roads, high-speed train networks and deep-sea ports formed to create a comprehensive system of transport connectivity.

                        In addition, water sources have been secured for consumption and for serving industries while labour skills training is offered to workers to enhance their quality of work.

                        The government has invited businesses to invest in the development of digital technology, smart electronic products, robots, the medical sector, agriculture and food production.

                        Mr Anucha said Gen Prayut has given his assurance that investments in the EEC and similar economic zones to be established in the future will be done with transparency and fairness. Business practices will also be conducted with full recognition of human rights.

                        Contractors have been selected for projects associated with the EEC, including the high-speed rail linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports, the Airport City Project at U-Tapao airport, the expansion of the Laem Chabang and Map Ta Phut ports and the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) in Rayong.

                        Gen Prayut reiterated the government was pressing ahead with the plan to make Thailand the region's hub for freight and people transport.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • Protesters vow to stay 3 days at Govt House to oust Prayut

                          Protesters declared their intention to stay camped outside Government House for at least three days to put pressure on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down, as yellow-shirted counter-demonstrators ended their show of support for the monarchy.

                          Aside from ousting the former coup leader from the premier's post, "Khana Ratsadorn” (the People's Group), -- formerly known as the Free People movement -- are also demanding that the constitution be rewritten and the monarchy reformed.

                          "We have reached our destination," leader Arnon Nampha declared after the demonstrators -- whose numbers appeared to be in the tens of thousands, although one of their leaders claimed 300,000 -- arrived at the prime minister's office, about four hours after starting their march from the Democracy Monument at 2.40pm.

                          Protest leaders said they will rally outside Government House for at least three days in their bid to force Gen Prayut to resign.

                          The rally has largely been peaceful so far, with only minor confrontations with police and a few of the yellow-shirted pro-monarchists, who according to some reports were bussed in by authorities.

                          The royalists lined up along Ratchadamneon Avenue to show their support for His Majesty the King as his royal motorcade moved from Dusit Palace to the Grand Palace for a religious function.

                          Suwit Thongprasert, formerly known as Phra Buddha Isara, announced that the yellow-shirted group would disperse after the King returned to the palace.

                          The prime minister was in Pathum Thani to chair volunteer activities initiated by His Majesty, and his office will be closed on Thursday.

                          Meanwhile, political activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpatararaksa was detained along with 20 others during Tuesday’s anti-government protest at the Democracy Monument. The veteran dissident will continue to be held in custody after the Criminal Court on Wednesday approved a police request to further detain him for 12 days while investigating his alleged misconduct.

                          Mr Jatupat is facing 12 charges in connection with Tuesday’s protest, while 19 others are facing 10 charges, said Kritsadang Nutcharat, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

                          The activist was brought from the headquarters of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 in Pathum Thani, where he was detained the previous night, to the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road on Wednesday.

                          One protester is yet to be charged because police first need to complete a process required under the Youth Act in dealing with an underaged criminal suspect, said the lawyer.

                          The two additional charges Mr Jatupat is facing are leading or ordering a gathering of more than 10 people that caused public unrest, and jointly organising a public gathering without securing permission from authorities as required under the public gathering law, said the lawyer.

                          The other ten charges levelled at Mr Jatupat and the other 19 protesters are: colluding to gather in a group of more than 10 people, colluding to cause public unrest, colluding to organise an activity that risks spreading a communicable disease, colluding to obstruct public thoroughfares, colluding to obstruct traffic, violating the law on public cleanliness, colluding to physically assault others, colluding to damage property, resisting orders by security authorities, and using loudspeakers without permission.:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • PM declares STATE OF EMERGENCY in Bangkok, 4 rally leaders arrested, areas cleared of protesters

                            Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared a state of emergency in Bangkok effective from 4am on Thursday to control the escalating pro-democracy protest by demonstrators who call themselves Khana Ratsadon 2563 (People’s Party 2020) in front of Government House since Wednesday.

                            Rally leaders Parit Chiwarak and Anon Nampa were reportedly arrested at Nang Loeng Intersection. Phanuphong Jadnok and Prasit Utharoj were also reportedly arrested.

                            The declaration prompted hundreds of crowd-control police officers to march slowly from Phitsanulok Road to Nang Loeng Intersection near Government House to force the rallyists out of the area.

                            The protesters reportedly threw small objects at the officers, but eventually dispersed from the areas.

                            At 4.55am police gained control of the areas in front of Government House as well as the entire Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue.

                            At daybreak, officers from Bangkok’s Dusit district entered the areas to clean the road from Suan Mitsakawan Intersection to Nang Loeng Intersection and prepared to open the area to traffic as normal.:

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • Cabinet confirms state of emergency, curfew if protests escalate

                              The cabinet on Friday formally approved the state of emergency in Bangkok at an urgent meeting called by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

                              Gen Prayut called the cabinet meeting at 10am on Friday to discuss the emergency decree he invoked in Bangkok about 4am on Thursday following street protests in the capital.

                              Gen Prayut told reporters a curfew banning people from leaving home at night might be imposed if the situation escalated. He insisted the situation did not warrant the declaration of martial law.

                              During the meeting, the cabinet formally approved the emergency decree in Bangkok for one month from Oct 15, as proposed by the National Security Council, the cabinet secretariat office announced.

                              The emergency decree was issued after groups of people calling themselves “Khana Rassadorn 2563’’ (2020 People's Party) had instigated people to come out to gather in Bangkok on several occasions, according to the announcement.

                              Rally leaders had called a mass rally on Wednesday at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and then marched to seize the area outside Government House later that night, it said.

                              During the protest, rally leaders had acted in violation of public gathering-related laws and used several channels to incite unrest, including demonstrators’ blockage of a royal motorcade, the announcement said.

                              The gathering also affected measures to control the spread of the coronavirus disease that would directly affect the country’s fragile economy.

                              With these reasons, the prime minister decided to declare a state of emergency decree in Bangkok starting from 4am on Oct 15, the secretariat anouncement said.:

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Thailand’s PM tells police to avoid violent means to deal with protesters

                                Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed police to avoid the use of violence, in any form, when dealingwith the anti-government protesters and has promised to restore peace and normality to the country, according to Government Spokesman Mr. Anucha Buraparangsi.

                                The Prime Minister has, however, defended the forceful dispersal of protesters at the Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok yesterday, claiming that the police followed international standards of crowd control and that the water used in the cannons did not contain dangerous chemicals.

                                The Spokesman went on to say that the Government is willing and ready to work with all parties, to resolve the conflict within the legal framework, as the Prime Minister pleaded for cooperation from the people to help restore peace and order.

                                Meanwhile, the Pathumwan District Court has rejected a requestby Pathumwan police, to continue to detain eight protesters, on the grounds that they are unlikely to escape because they have known residences in Bangkok.

                                The eight were released by the court today. Among them was Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, after the iLaw NGO posted 20,000 baht bail.

                                Two other protest leaders, Chinnawat Chankrachang and Sombat Thongyoi, were also bailed out by the NGO.

                                Tattep told the media, after release, that protest leaders are not only those held in custody, but there are several tens of thousands of them among the public.

                                He said, however, that he will not join any protest today, but will rest, as he urged the other protesters to carry on until their demands are met.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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