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  • Prayut shoots down bid to scrap military draft

    An opposition party’s push for military reform has hit trouble after its draft law to abolish conscription was shot down before making it to Parliament.

    The Bill on Military Service proposed by MPs of the now-defunct Future Forward Party failed to get the necessary endorsement from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also a former Army chief.

    The proposed legislation is considered “a money bill”, according to the Constitution, and thus requires the prime minister’s nod before it can be sent to the House of Representatives for debate.

    A money bill refers to draft legislation dealing with changes to taxes or duties, payment of state funds, or any act binding state properties.

    Future Forward’s successor the Kao Klai (Move Forward) Party is carrying forward the anti-conscription campaign, and has criticised General Prayut for “intervening in legislative work for his own political objectives”.

    Kao Klai MP Rangsiman Rome noted that the prime minister has made it clear that he opposes abolishing conscription.

    “General Prayut exploited his constitutional power of endorsement over money bills to achieve his own political objective,” said Rangsiman, an activist turned politician.

    “The prime minister’s refusal to endorse the bill has deprived the House of Representatives of an opportunity for MPs to meet the expectations of the people,” he said on Monday.

    Rangsiman added that abolition of military conscription was a campaign promise made by Future Forward before last year’s general elections.

    Kao Klai is campaigning for peacetime military draft to be replaced by voluntary recruitment, as well as other military reforms including improved welfare for personnel, particularly junior troops.

    Prayut, who doubles as defence minister, has said conscription is necessary to ensure Thailand has a well-trained military that can defend the country.

    He also pointed out that each year, up to 30 per cent of the more than 100,000 conscripts actually volunteer to serve.

    “There are many choices already. This is social equality. Everybody has the right to make their own decision,” he said.

    But compulsory conscription is opposed by many elements in society over a widespread perception that the system is unfair.

    Every Thai man from the age of 21 is required by law to undergo conscription unless he has a valid reason for postponement, such as completing his university studies.

    Most draftees come from poor and low-income families in rural areas.

    Those from wealthy and middle-class families can legally avoid conscription by undergoing training as “territorial defence students” in high school. Stories are also rife of candidates using their family connections – or even bribery – to avoid the draft.

    Each year there are reports of serious human rights violations against conscripts, most of whom serve at the bottom of the military hierarchy as privates.

    Many draftees complain of being cheated of their salaries and being forced to work as servants in the homes of their commanding officers.

    Far more serious are the many high-profile cases of conscripts found dead at military bases after being punished.

    These are often claimed to be suicides by officers in charge, despite the protestations of the bereaved families.

    This year, six Army conscripts have been found dead in suspicious circumstances at bases, with the latest case reported only last week.

    A conscript drafted to the 27th Provincial Royal Thai Army in Roi Et province was found hanged inside the military base on November 6. The Army attributed his death to suicide. The private was late reporting back at the base after taking leave in late October. He was punished by being assigned to farm work.

    He then managed to sneak away from the camp while on a work assignment, but was sent back by his family on November 5.

    He was found dead around noon the following day.

    The family of the dead man, Pitchawat Wiangnon, 22, have asked police to investigate the case, while the Army chief has vowed to punish any soldier found guilty of wrongdoing.: https://www.thaipbsworld.com/prayut-...ilitary-draft/

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    • PM satisfied with public response to co-payment scheme

      Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is satisfied with overwhelming public response to the government’s 50:50 co-payment scheme and has instructed the Finance Ministry to roll out a similar package as a New Year’s gift to the Thai people, said Government Spokesman Mr. Anucha Burapachaisri today (Saturday).

      He said that the scheme has met the government’s target of boosting the purchasing power of Thai consumers, albeit for a short period, at a time when many of them are experiencing hardship from the economic impacts of COVID-19, with manylosing their jobs or having to accept pay cuts for the survival of their employers’ businesses.

      The spending by consumers has helped many medium and small entrepreneurs, such as hawkers and convenience stores.

      Under the scheme, each recipient, who must be a Thai at least 18 years old, will receive 3,000 baht, to be wired into their bank accounts and to be spent within three months at a maximum rate of 150 baht per day. The other half will be borne by the tax payer.

      According to the Finance Ministry’s updated information about the public’s response to the scheme, 648,372 small stores and traders have signed up. Total spending, as of November 13th, amounted to 13.481 billion baht.

      For the first phase of the scheme, the government set a target of registering 10 million people, but only 7.7 million passed the screening.: https://www.thaipbsworld.com/pm-sati...ayment-scheme/

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      • Thailand signs RCEP agreement but PM warns of challenges ahead

        Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha participated on Sunday in the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit (RCEP), which was one of the meetings in addition to the 37th Asean Summit through teleconference.

        The PM said he was very pleased that the meeting could conclude the outcome of the negotiations together and witness the signing of the RCEP agreement, which is the world's largest free trade agreement.

        He said that members face many challenges due to differences in the level of economic development, the sensitivity of each country, and the latest crisis from the situation of the coronavirus outbreak.

        The union of the members will provide the RCEP region with a favourable environment and attract global trade and investment, the PM said. This gives member countries the ability and flexibility to cope with future economic challenges. It will also be a tool to drive the world economy towards more free trade. As a result, our region and our people would continue to benefit equally and sustainably, Prayut said.

        The PM attended the RCEP signing ceremony with representatives from 15 countries. For Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit signed the agreement.

        Jurin said today was a very important part of history, as there would be an agreement between 15 countries made up of 10 Asean countries and five from the Asia Pacific -- China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. He said he hoped India would join the agreement in future.

        Jurin added that the Thai private and public sectors would need to accelerate preparations and adapt to the world's largest new investment trade and agreement, including studying regulations that become relevant.

        After the signing on Sunday, each country has to follow its own process of ratifying the deal.It is expected to come into effect in the middle of next year. In order to come into effect, there must be six Asean countries and three other countries ratifying for the agreement to be enforced.

        RCEP has left its doors open for India, which took part in the early deliberations but decided to stay out. The members are hopeful that India can join the agreement in the future, making the grouping account for one-third of world GDP and population.: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/...ernal_referral

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        • PM okays guidelines for community-based power plants

          Guidelines for community-based power plants were approved by a meeting of the National Energy Policy Committee (NEPC) chaired by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday.

          The scheme aims to boost the grassroots economy by promoting plants powered by biomass, refuse-derived fuels and solar panels under joint investment by community enterprises and private investors.

          Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow announced the NEPC had okayed guidelines for the pilot project targeting capacity of 150 megawatts, half generated from biomass and half from biogas. Each biomass plant will generate no more than 6MW and each biogas plant no more than 3MW, with commercial operation starting no more than 36 months after signing the agreement.

          The government will purchase the electricity via Feed-in Tariff (FiT). Project proposals by private companies must incorporate benefit-sharing, such as a 10 per cent stake for community enterprises that grow energy crops for power plants. The operator and the community have to reach an agreement to benefit community development and social welfare such as public health, utilities, education, etc.

          The NEPC also approved guidelines for spending the Bt6.5-billion Energy Conservation Promotion Fund (ENCON Fund) in 2021, in line with an October 30 resolution by the Fund Committee for Promotion of Energy Conservation. The fund committee shall have the power to improve guidelines, criteria, conditions, and allocation of funds.

          Bt2.2 billion of the Bt6.5-billion budget will be spent on projects to conserve energy in SMEs, buildings, homes, transport sectors, farm business, and modern agriculture. Bt2.4 billion will go to the Energy Conservation Promotion and Renewable Energy Foundation.: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/...ernal_referral

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          • PM: No special laws will be invoked against rallies

            The government will not invoke special laws to prevent clashes between rival groups of demonstrators, but will step up enforcement of regular laws, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday.

            It was unnecessary for the government to resort to use of a special law.

            However, enforcement of regular laws would be escalated, he said at Government House.

            He was replying to questions about the fighting between yellow-clad demonstrators and student-led protesters near the parliament complex in Dusit district on Tuesday.

            Six people were wounded by gunshots during the clashes.

            "The degree and strictness of law enforcement must increase because we do not want the incident to recur. I have already said there must not be violence between them," Gen Prayut said.

            Under the circumstances, laws must be exercised. Law enforcement might not happen immediately against crowds of people, but could be applied afterwards against all who broke the law, he said.

            The prime minister asked for sympathy for police, who were trying to handle the situation gently. He said many of them had been injured.

            "Violence has occurred. Maximum precautions must be taken. Police are responsible for making these decisions," Gen Prayut said.

            The prime minister also said the ongoing situation was affecting investor confidence at a time when the country needed investment.

            "It is a time when we must quickly strengthen the economy. Many people are being affected. We must consider the hardships of people throughout the country.... We need foreign investment," Gen Prayut said.

            Bangkok deputy police chief Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai said that on Tuesday police had done their best to keep apart the two rival groups of demonstrators near the parliament, but they could not hold back everyone.

            The first clash happened about 5.10pm on Tuesday when anti-government demonstrators broke through barricades at Kiak Kai intersection and confronted another group of demonstrators on Thahan Road. Both sides threw objects at each other for about six minutes.

            The second clash occurred after 8pm at Wat Mai Thong Sen community, about 300 metres from the parliament. Two people were shot. They were from both sides, Pol Maj Gen Piya said.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand...gainst-rallies


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            • PM: All laws, articles will be used against violent protesters

              Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave notice on Thursday that "all laws and all articles" will be used against protesters escalating the political conflict.

              Gen Prayut gave his warning in a statement issued from his office, in the face of continuing street rallies by anti-government protesters demanding his removal and reform of the monarchy.

              He said that the government and all agencies had tried to find a peaceful way out of the conflict, following legal procedures under a constitutional monarchy.

              However, the situation had showed no sign of easing, despite the government showing its sincerity to solve the problems. Security agencies had done their job in maintaining peace and order, closely monitoring the situation and dealing with protests with the utmost care, in line with international standards, the prime minister said.

              “The situation is not easing in a good direction and there is a tendency for conflict to escalate into more violence. If not addressed, this could cause damage to the country and the beloved institution, as well as to peace and the safety of people’s lives and property," Gen Prayut said in the statement, which was in Thai.

              “It is necessary for the government and security agencies to intensify their actions by using all laws and all articles to take action against demonstrators who break the law and show no respect for the rights of other people.

              "Action will be taken within the country’s area of jurisdiction and to international standards."

              The statement did not specify whether this action would include use of Article 112, the lese majeste law, which forbids insulting the monarchy on pain of draconian prison sentences. Gen Prayuth said earlier this year that it was not being used at the request of HM the King.

              Many thousands of anti-government protesters packed into Ratchaprasong intersection during their huge rally on Wednesday night, again announcing their demands for the prime minister's resignation and reform of the royal institution.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand...ent-protesters


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              • Prayut rejects as propaganda rumours he will quit on Nov 25

                Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday said he had never offered to resign, quashing rumours that he would step down before November 25.

                Prominent human-rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, who is also one of the core leaders of the pro-democracy movement, had posted a Facebook message earlier on Friday, saying Prayut “might” resign before November 25, the date protesters have scheduled another rally at the Crown Property Bureau in Bangkok’s Dusit district.

                “You must ask the person who said it where he got the information from, as I’ve never made contact with Arnon, leader of Ratsadon protester group,” said Prayut. “As they have scheduled another rally on November 25, I believe it is just a propaganda to invite more people to join the protest.

                “Should we continue to believe the person who spreads groundless information like this? That is all I’m going to say,” added the prime minister.: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/...ernal_referral


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                • Prime Minister Issues Lese Majeste Warning to Protesters

                  Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stated that the lese majeste law will be among “all laws and articles” to be enforced against demonstrators.

                  Asked by reporters at Government House whether Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law, would also be enforced, Gen Chan-o-cha said: “It is among all those laws. Do you understand the term all laws?”

                  Referring to cases involving the insulting of the monarchy, the PM added: “The government must take swift action because many people have voiced opinions on the issue. People nationwide cannot accept this.”

                  On Thursday, Gen Chan-o-cha declared that “all laws and all articles” would be enforced against protesters who broke the law.

                  He gave his warning after street rallies by pro-democracy protesters demanding his removal and reform of the monarchy.

                  Gen Chan-o-cha also brushed aside a claim made on Facebook by protest leader Arnon Nampa that he might resign by Wednesday when the protest movement plans another rally in front of the Crown Property Bureau.

                  “The person who made such a claim was ill-informed. How can we trust him?” Gen Chan-o-cha said.

                  Meanwhile, Bangkok police are to press charges against 31 demonstrators over this week’s anti-government rallies outside parliament and the police headquarters.

                  A police spokesman said on Friday that no decision had been made yet on whether those charges would include breaches of Section 112.

                  Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner and spokesman of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MBP), said 14 people had been identified as committing offences near parliament in Dusit district on Tuesday, and 17 others during the protest outside the Royal Thai Police Headquarters in Pathumwan district on Wednesday.

                  They were from both sides, from a royalist group and from the anti-government side and police would start calling them in to acknowledge charges next week, he said.

                  The charges would include attempted murder, causing damage to government property, demonstrating without prior permission, assembling to create disorder, physical assault and violation of cleanliness and land traffic laws.

                  Pol Maj Gen Tawichai said three people who were shot during the clashes between rival groups of demonstrators near parliament had been questioned.

                  One was shot at the Bang Pho intersection and two at Kiakkai intersection.

                  He also said police had yet to decide on the criteria to be imposed when considering breaches of the lese majeste law.: https://chiangmaione.com/featured/pr...-to-protesters

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                    • PM thanks cleanup volunteers

                      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has thanked volunteers for cleaning up paint and graffiti at walls and streets outside the Royal Thai Police headquarters following the People's Movement rally at Ratchaprasong intersection on Wednesday.

                      Gen Prayut, also defence minister, praised the volunteers, members of the public and officials for taking part in cleaning the paint-stained walls and streets outside the police compound by the protesters during Wednesday’s rally, said government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri. Inappropriate graffiti at various spots in the area were also cleared.

                      A protest co-leader said they had acted out of anger after police had used water cannons and tear gas to stop them from approaching Parliament where a debate and vote on seven versions of the constitutional amendment bill were taking place on the same day. The bills would pave the way for a rewrite of the charter, one of their key demands.

                      At least 55 people were injured, 32 of whom by tear gas, and six were shot during clashes with a rival group of royalist demonstrators, according to data of the Erawan emergency medical unit of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration on Wednesday.

                      The bill the demonstrators supported, submitted by Internet Law Reform Dialogue, was later rejected by senators. The demonstrators subsequently assembled at the Ratchaprasong intersection near the police headquarters.

                      Mr Anucha said on Saturday the vandalism caused damage to the property of the state and private sector.

                      The prime minister hoped that demonstrators would exercise their rights within the framework of the law and express their views in a constructive manner, said Mr Anucha.

                      Pro-government yellow-shirt volunteers gathered in front of the Royal Thai Police Headquarters on Friday morning to clean paint left by anti-government protesters who demanded the resignation of Gen Prayut, constitutional changes and reform of the monarchy.

                      National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsul on Saturday organised a big cleaning activity at the police head office.

                      A total of 827 officers took part in cleaning up the compound, said Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong, police spokesman.

                      Spray paints caused damage to the fence and nameboard. Volunteers earlier helped clean up the paint-strained structures, he said.

                      On legal cases against those involved, police were gathering evidence, he added.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand...nup-volunteers


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                      • PM rules out martial law

                        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday rebutted speculation that there could be another military coup or the enforcement of martial law to quell the current spate of anti-government protests ahead of a planned mass event in front of the Crown Property Bureau on Wednesday.

                        After the government met to prepare for the Ratsadon group's demonstration, the premier said the government was trying to prevent confrontations between opposing protest groups and pledged equal enforcement the law againt both sides.

                        Gen Prayut said the government would not discriminate against anyone and called on the protesters to be considerate of the officers whose job it is to maintain order.

                        He also stressed that martial law would not be introduced to prevent this or future rallies and dismissed the idea that there might be another coup d'état with the same goal in mind.

                        As the prime minister, he said did not want to see Thais kill and use violence against one another and told the media to ask the anti-government protest leaders why they have to go to the Crown Property Bureau.

                        Last Thursday, Gen Prayut declared that "all laws and all articles" would be enforced against protesters who broke the law.

                        He gave his warning after street rallies by pro-democracy protesters demanding his removal and reform of the monarchy.

                        Gen Prayut also brushed aside a claim made on Facebook by protest leader Arnon Nampa that he might resign before Wednesday's rally.

                        Deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai said on Monday nine companies of police officers and another company of crowd control officers will be deployed to provide security during the demonstration.

                        Police had yet to decide whether to designate a protest ban within a 150metre radius of the bureau and close nearby roads to traffic, the official said.

                        Barbed-wire barriers have been set up around the bureau and signs that read "palace area" have been put up in front and on the side of the place.

                        Saint Gabriel's College which is located near the bureau has announced that it will close on Wednesday due to the demonstration.

                        Chulalongkorn University warned its students and staff to be careful while travelling to the university due to incidents that might cause inconvenience and affect their safety this week although it did not elaborate further.

                        MPB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Phukphong Phongpetra said police had so far investigated 107 cases related to the protests — 24 of which have been sent to public prosecutors. The rest remain live as officers take statements and gather further evidence, he added.

                        Meanwhile, Pol Lt Gen Jaruwat Waisaya, an assistant to the national police chief, called a meeting to discuss all the cases brought about by the protests in Bangkok in order to consider laying more charges against the movement's leaders in line with

                        Section 112 of the criminal code, better known as the lèse majesté law.

                        The pro-monarchy Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, led by Bancha Panniwat and Sumet Trakulwunnu, issued a statement announcing their own plans to stage retaliatory events on Tuesday and Wednesday near the Education Ministry to disrupt the anti-government rally at the nearby Crown Property Bureau.

                        If the People's Movement protesters want to go to the bureau, they must wade through the Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, whose leaders have said they will no longer allow any disrespectful behaviour towards the monarchy.

                        Mr Bancha said his group would demonstrate near the bureau beside the Education Ministry from 3pm on Tuesday, insisting that they were not looking for a confrontation of any kind.

                        He also called on supporters show up at the same spot at 8am on Wednesday.

                        "They can rally anywhere but not here," Mr Bancha said.

                        He also said that many other royalist groups would be joining the Phalang Phaen Din Siam demonstration but vowed that violence would not be used against members of the People's Movement.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand...ut-martial-law

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                        • Thailand to sign vaccine procurement deal with AstraZeneca on Friday

                          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will oversee the signing of a reservation and procurement deal for Covid-19 vaccine between Thailand and AstraZeneca, a British–Swedish pharmaceutical company, on Friday, said deputy government's spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul.

                          The signing ceremony will be held at Government House. This follows the Cabinet’s agreement to set aside more than Bt6 billion for the procurement of vaccines.

                          She added that Thailand expects to receive the vaccine mid next year.: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/...ernal_referral

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                            • Little more…….

                              Covid-19 vaccine purchase contract to be signed Friday

                              A forward contract to acquire a Covid-19 vaccine that can be produced locally will be signed on Friday, marking the next step forward in the battle against the virus, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday.

                              The prime minister gave the details in a video posted on the government's Facebook page on the eve of the contract signing between the National Vaccine Institute and vaccine developer AstraZeneca Plc.

                              The contract is for the purchase of 26 million doses, enough for 13 million people.

                              Gen Prayut said the world was suffering a worst-case scenario, with the Covid-19 pandemic claiming a large daily death toll, the World Health Organisation warning of a possible third wave, and lockdowns in many European countries.

                              Cooperation from all parties and the management of resources by his government had prevented an uncontrollable Covid-19 situation that would otherwise have overloaded the national health system and impacted on the treatment of people with other illnesses, Gen Prayut said.

                              "We are preparing for the next phase in managing the Covid crisis, so that it does not do even greater damage to our country's economy and to people's livelihoods.

                              "The long-term solution to overcoming the crisis of the Covid pandemic is the availability of a vaccine and its adequate distribution to people," he said.

                              There were 3-4 groups of vaccine producers likely to succeed and big countries were trying to reserve vaccines. "Thailand, too, must be able to get sufficient doses of a successful vaccine early," Gen Prayut said.

                              "That is why, a few months ago, I made the decision for Thailand to seek to partner in vaccine production with an eminent vaccine research group as a way of securing a vaccine early."

                              The government's efforts bore fruit last month when it signed a contract with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca to produce a vaccine in Thailand and to receive the production technology.

                              "And tomorrow [Friday], we will sign a further agreement for the purchase of the vaccine," he said.

                              The prime minister said that the vaccine the two organisations were developing showed a very good efficacy rate of 70-90%.

                              Gen Prayut said the vaccine would be relatively cheap and suitable for Thailand. It could be stored at 2-8°C, which allowed for convenient nationwide distribution.

                              Vaccines from other producers must be stored at between -20°C and -70°C , and this would mean transport difficulties.

                              "We expect this vaccine to be properly certified, approved for use and in production by the middle of next year. The sooner we can advance this timetable, the sooner we can open our doors to large numbers of visitors and begin the task of rebuilding our economy," the prime minister said.

                              Pending local vaccine production, the country could still celebrate festivals but people should continue to help contain Covid-19 by regularly wearing face masks, washing their hands and observing social distancing, Gen Prayut said.: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand...-signed-friday


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