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  • Prayut again top choice for ruling party, while Kla pushes for superstar Korn

    Though the ruling Palang Pracharath Party has decided to field Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as its PM candidate in the next election, Prayut has called on the government to check if he can legally spend more than eight years in office.

    Legal expert Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam is tasked with studying the practicality of fielding Prayut as a PM candidate.

    Meanwhile, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Prayut was pleased and grateful that the party trusts him enough to nominate him as a candidate for another term. The premier has also said he wants to know what the public thinks about his nomination.

    Meanwhile, the Democrat Party is fielding its leader Jurin Laksanawisit for the top job, while the opposition Kla Party is pushing for its leader Korn Chatikavanij.

    Former Democrat MP Atavit Suwannapakdee, who formed the Kla Party, said Korn would be most suitable for the job, especially since the Thai economy has been badly hit by the Covid-19 crisis. As then-finance minister, Korn helped pull Thailand out of the Hamburger economic crisis in 2008 and won the Global Finance Minister of the Year award in 2010.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Prayut speeds up vaccine campaign in far South

      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has set a target of reducing the Covid-19 infection rate in Songkhla and three nearby provinces by 10% a week, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Wednesday.

      The news came after positive cases in the deep South began spiking.

      On Wednesday, 1,922 people tested positive in those four provinces, including 666 cases in Songkhla, 501 in Narathiwat, 446 in Yala and 309 in Pattani.

      Of 12 Covid-related deaths reported in the South, four were from Yala and two from Narathiwat.

      The four provinces were among the top 10 with the highest daily infection rate, led by Bangkok with 1,208 new cases and followed by Songkhla.

      "The prime minister is concerned about the situation. He wants to see the infection rate reduced by at least 10% a week. The situation should be under control within one or two months," said Mr Thanakorn.

      Dr Kiatiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, was assigned to handle the case. The Public Health Ministry has distributed 1 million pills of the antiviral drug Favipiravir, 20,000 rapid antigen test kits (ATK) and 100 oxygen concentrators in the area.

      The government has also provided 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 25,000 doses of AstraZeneca, said Mr Thanakorn.

      "The ATKs must be distributed quickly to those at risk of getting Covid-19. They will screen out the infected and create a Covid-free setting for those who test negative. People should also strictly follow all Covid-19 measures. With the help of medical professionals, we believe the infection rate will soon decline," he said.

      Songkhla has the highest infection rate in the South. The total number of positive cases was 33,883, resulting in 158 deaths. About 43% of the local population have received their first shot but only 29% have been double-vaccinated. Only 1.37% have had a third or booster shot.

      Comparable figures by province were: Narathiwat — 34%, 23.5% and 0.9%; Yala — 45%, 28% and 1%; Pattani — 37% got the first shot, 21% received the second shot and 1.3% the third shot.

      Responding to criticism that the region is still suffering from vaccine shortages, Department of Disease Control (DDC) director-general Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said more jabs would be dispatched.

      "The Centre of Covid-19 Situation Administration planned to allocate almost 1.5 million doses to the deep southern provinces, but we can allocate another 500,000 on top," he said.

      The DDC will dispatch another 200,000 doses of Sinopharm for a total of 2.2 million vaccine doses in the four provinces, he said.:

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • Thai PM concerned over shooting of police officer during last night’s protest

        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed concern for a police officer who sustained serious injury when he was shot during a protest by the “Talugas” group at Din Daeng intersection last night and has ordered that the injured officer be given close medical care, said Government Spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonchana today.

        A bullet of, as yet, unknown calibre pierced the officer’s helmet and became embedded in the skull of Pol Lance Corporal Techwit Lettensen, as he was on duty in the vicinity of the Din Daeng apartments in Din Daeng Soi 1 at about 1amthis morning.

        He was rushed to the Police general hospital and immediately operated on, to remove the bullet from his brain, but, after several hours of surgery, he remains in a coma and on a ventilator, according to Thanakorn.

        The spokesman condemned the use of violence by some of the protesters and accused them of being bent on damaging public property and causing unnecessary hardship to people living at and around the protest site.

        The hard core anti-authority ”Talugas” protesters, many of them teenagers and vocational students, have been battling with the police at Din Daeng intersection on daily basis for more than a month, without a set of clear political demands. Riding motorcycles, they usually gather at the intersection in the evening and engage in street battles with the police until late at night, often into the curfew hours, hurling homemade explosives, firecrackers, flares and, lately, Molotov cocktails, at the police.

        Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is in charge of national security affairs, expressed sorrow overthe violent incident last night and urged the protesters to refrain from such actions.

        He also urged police to exercise caution and to not resort to violence against the protesters.

        Police detained 28 suspects after a special operations police unit combed the area where the officer was shot and its surroundings in Din Daeng. Those detained included 11-year old and 13-year old boys and five others under 18. All were taken to Phahonyothin police station for questioning and detention.

        Forensic police and officers from the explosive ordnance disposal unit were sent to the area in Soi Chaturatit, where several apartments and commercial buildings are located, to look for explosives or other weapons which are thought to bestored there by the protesters.

        It is reported that the national police chief, Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, will personally question some of the detained suspects at Phahonyothin police station.:
        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • PPRP fully backs Prayut

          The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has resolved to nominate Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as its prime ministerial candidate in the next general election, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon insisted on Wednesday.

          The confirmation by Gen Prawit, who made the comments in his capacity as leader of the party, came after several parties have in the past week come out to nominate either their leaders or other figures to contest the race.

          Speculation is rife that the poll could take place next year as the government is not expected to complete a full four-term to 2023.

          However, Gen Prawit stopped short of confirming whether the incumbent premier would continue to apply for membership of the party, or shift allegiances.

          "It's over now," he said, referring to the PPRP's choice of candidate.

          "You will have to ask the prime minister himself whether he plans to still apply to be a member of the PPRP or not."

          Asked why the PPRP did not nominate him instead, the 76-year-old said his physical condition was a factor.

          Regarding scepticism as to whether Gen Prayut's tenure as prime minister will actually end, Gen Prawit said it is the duty of the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.

          Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana previously said Gen Prayut has asked Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, a legal expert, to make sure his nomination does not go against the constitution or any other organic laws.

          The opposition and some academics are insisting that his term must end next August at the latest, as the constitution bars anyone from serving as premier for more than two four-year terms -- regardless of whether the terms were served consecutively or not.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • Party frets on PM's fate

            All eyes are on the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) which is expected to nominate two more prime ministerial candidates as a back-up in the next election just in case Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the top candidate, has a political accident costing his premiership.

            Previously, a rift emerged between the two brothers in arms, Gen Prayut and Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon, after the dismissal of Capt Thamant Prompow as deputy agriculture minister.

            Capt Thamanat was sacked as deputy minister, as was Narumon Pinyosinwat, who was dismissed as a deputy labour minister.

            Their dismissals came after Capt Thamanat was accused of plotting to topple Gen Prayut from power, by persuading some MPs within the PPRP and smaller coalition parties to vote against him in the no-confidence debate last month.

            The PPRP has also been beset by rifts among factions as Col Suchart Chantarachotikul, the former chief political strategist for the PPRP's southern region, announced he will leave the PPRP along with a group of southern MPs to join a new party.

            The new party was set up by a former permanent secretary for interior Chalerm Promlert, who is a close associate of Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda. The party is said to be a backup for the PPRP and Col Suchart claimed that Gen Prayut would also move to join the new party.

            However, sources said Gen Prawit was upset with Col Suchart's move, and he had to phone to talk to those southern MPs who assured him that they would not defect to any party as claimed. The PPRP recently moved to hose down rumours of the rift between Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit as the ruling party nominated Gen Prayut him as its prime ministerial candidate in the next poll.

            However, hurdles remain as controversy surrounding the end of Gen Prayut's tenure as PM has emerged. The opposition and some academics are insisting that his term will end on Aug 24 next year, as the constitution bars anyone from serving as premier for more than two four-year terms -- regardless of whether the terms were served back-to-back or not.

            They maintained Gen Prayut's time as prime minister began in 2014, as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order, which seized power in a coup.

            The issue is fiercely debated as it serves as an indicator of when the next poll will be held. The opposition parties are expected to petition the Constitution Court to rule on the issue.

            And despite rumours about a rift between Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit, the latter said there is no conflict between them. The ruling party is united and in unanimous agreement on all important matters, he added.

            The internal conflict within the ruling party and the issue over Gen Prayut's tenure are spelling uncertainty for the PPRP's plan for the next poll, observers said.

            A PPRP source said Gen Prawit is looking for two more prime ministerial candidates as back-ups in case Gen Prayut loses his premiership early as a result of the legal dispute over the end of his tenure. "One potential candidate is Gen Wit Thephasadin Na Ayutthaya, a former assistant army chief, who has close ties with Gen Prawit,'' the source said.

            Currently, Gen Wit serves as chairman of the PPRP's strategic committee following the dismissal of Capt Thamanat from the cabinet, he said.

            "Another is Piraphan Salirathavibhaga, an adviser to the prime minister,'' he said. Last week, Mr Piraphan was assigned by Gen Prayut to serve as adviser to the PPRP leader, the source said.

            Mr Piraphan formerly served as justice minister under the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. The source said Mr Piraphan was approached by former army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong to work for Gen Prayut.

            Meanwhile, Pathum Thani governor Narongsak Osottanakorn was reportedly invited by Gen Prawit. Mr Narongsak was led by PPRP whip chief Wirat Rattanaset to have talks with Gen Prawit at the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation on Thursday.

            One source said Mr Narongsak might be nominated as another PM candidate under the PPRP banner. Gen Prawit wanted to talk to him in person, the source said.

            Mr Narongsak was dubbed as a hero who helped plan the rescue for the kids from Moo Pa football team in Chiang Rai who were stuck in a cave in Mae Sai district when he was Chiang Rai governor a few years ago.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha might be pushing it past 8 years in office
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • I think the court/s will see it that way also
                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                • Potential PM challenger lists assets

                  Pathum Thani governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, recognised as a hero for leading the Tham Luang cave rescue of trapped boys in 2018, has declared, together with his wife, 45.39-million-baht in assets.

                  The former Chiang Rai governor has been back in the spotlight recently. He reportedly met Palang Pracharath Party leader Prawit Wongsuwon last Thursday amid rumours he may be the second choice of prime ministerial candidate for the ruling party in the next general election.

                  That would likely only become relevant if incumbent PM Prayut Chan-o-cha decides not to run on the party's ticket.

                  Mr Narongsak, however, insisted he would not accept the nomination. Despite confirming news reports that he did in fact meet Gen Prawit, the governor said he only discussed water management matters with the deputy prime minister.

                  According to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), Mr Narongsak owns 24.65 million baht worth of assets while his wife, Chinchana, owns 20.73 million baht in assets. The vast majority was savings totalling 26.5 million baht, according to a list of their assets declared to the NACC on July 22. As a high-level official, he is required to declare his and his wife's assets every three years.

                  Mr Narongsak and his wife jointly own a house worth 2.46 million baht, two condominium units in Bangkok, a car, and other investment assets worth 6.41 million baht, according to the NACC.

                  Verasak Vichitsangsri, a former Samut Sakhon governor who won public recognition when he was infected with Covid-19 as he fought to contain an outbreak, declared owning with his wife assets worth 50.15 million baht.

                  Mr Verasak owns 21.25-million-baht worth, while his wife's are valued at 28.89 -million baht. Most were plots of land. Mr Verasak declared a net debt of 2.13 million baht.:

                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • hope someone will challenge him
                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Pirapan Salirathavibhaga: The ruling party peace-broker tipped for PM candidacy

                      Former justice minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga is making waves in the ruling Palang Pracharath Party after being appointed as advisor to powerful party leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

                      Key party figures describe the political veteran – who is also an advisor to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – as an important liaison between the PM and Gen Prawit, amid their souring ties.

                      However, analysts view Pirapan as Prayut’s “eyes and ears” in the ruling party, since the premier is neither a member nor an executive of the party.

                      Another PM candidate?

                      Discontent is brewing among some ruling-party elements over rumors that this “newcomer” is likely to become its second prime ministerial candidate after Prayut in the next election.

                      Analysts say Pirapan could even become the party’s main PM candidate should Prayut drop out of the running or suffer a “political accident” – a reference to the Constitution’s ban on holding the top job for more than eight years.

                      Pirapan’s appointment to a key party post and his potential to become PM candidate have made him a target for some elements within Palang Pracharath. Among them is Bangkok MP Sira Jenjaka, who suggested Pirapan lacked the seniority required to become a prime ministerial candidate.

                      “Pirapan is a new party member. He’s like a newly ordained monk whose position is lower than senior monks,” said Sira.

                      Some key party figures, however, are playing down the growing discontent over Pirapan’s rise.

                      “That is just someone’s opinion,” said party heavyweight Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin.

                      “In the end, everybody has to follow the rules and the party leader’s policy.”

                      Pirapan, 62, maybe a newbie in Palang Pracharath, but his political career began more than two decades ago – well before the party was founded in 2018. He was first elected as a Bangkok MP in 1996 before being re-elected several times – always under the Democrat Party banner.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • PM urges quick action on fraudulent cash withdrawals

                        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered urgent action to resolve the issue of irregular online withdrawals of cash debited through bank credit cards after complaints by many cardholders.

                        Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Monday the prime minister had instructed all relevant agencies to investigate and put an end to the problem.

                        The Bank of Thailand and Thai Bankers' Association issued a joint statement on Sunday saying banks would accept responsibility for the debts fraudulently accrued by customers.

                        The statement said no commercial banks' systems had been hacked. The irregular transactions were for payment to online shops registered outside Thailand.

                        The money was withdrawn through credit and debit cards. The cardholders did not buy goods online from those shops and were not alerted to the withdrawals.

                        A Facebook page called Sharing Experience on Unaware Cash Withdrawal has been created where the victims are sharing their bitter experiences.

                        Most showed the same pattern. The money was taken out in small sums and the illegal transaction repeated numerous times over a short period, mostly at night.

                        People posting on the Facepage questioned the reliability of the banks where they were customers because they had received no alerts. They learned their money was withrawn only when they updated their passbooks or checked their accounts online.

                        One victim showed her bank book with 13 withdrawals on Oct 11, each for 34.15 baht.

                        The number of victims remained unclear but the Facebook sharing experience account had more than 57,000 followers on Monday, with the number increasing.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                        • PM asked to review appointment of army general to take charge of pandemic in south

                          Bhumjaithai party-list MP Suphachai Jaismut has asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to review his order appointing one of his advisors, General Nattaphon Narkphanit, to take charge of a new command centre to cope with COVID-19 surges in four of Thailand’s southern border provinces.

                          On Sunday, the prime minister issued a ministerial order, appointing General Nattaphon as head of a special command centre tasked with containing the pandemic in Songkhla, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces. The centre comprises the permanent secretary of public health, senior public health officials and permanent secretaries from other ministries.

                          “My point of contention is that the prime minister is adopting ‘security as the first priority’ to deal with a public health issue which, I think, is inappropriate,” said the government MP, adding “I have no problem with the individual (General Nattaphon, former secretary-general of the National Security Council), but I have problem with the logic.”

                          Suphachai also said that, if the prime minister does not trust public health officials to fight COVID-19, then he should have replaced all of them with military doctors.

                          Citing the case of the Emergency Decree, he claimed that this special law can be substituted with the Communicable Disease Act, which would be just as effective as the decree, but the prime minister continues to keep it for fear of losing his power.

                          “We have had the experience of a military officer taking the lead over doctors,” said the MP, citing the prime minister’s heading of the command centre dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangkok and its peripherals since May this year.

                          “So what is the result?” he asked, without elaborating on the COVID-19 situation since May, which saw new daily infections rise steadily, from a few hundred cases to thousands and then over ten thousand.

                          He then reminded the prime minister of decentralisation under a democratic system, giving assignments to people who are fit for the job, so people will receive optimum benefits.

                          Suphachai admitted that his critical comments in the past had annoyed the prime minister “but, as a member of parliament and a politician, I have to stick to my viewpoint for the maximum benefit of the people. We disagree on this matter.”:

                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • PM urges focus on economy

                            Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday he was confident of meeting all the challenges on his plate and was unfazed by any rumours of political conflict.

                            Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Defence Council, however, he asked reporters to switch to other topics beside the next election, such as the economy. He had enough to deal with handling the Covid-19 crisis, Thailand's imminent reopening, trade conflicts and other concerns.

                            When asked if he ever felt discouraged by having so much to contend with, he answered: "No, I don't. Never."

                            Gen Prayut would not be drawn about his plans in the event he faces legal hurdles that bar him from continuing in his current post, as controversy continues to swirl over when his term should end.

                            The opposition and some academics insist that the date should be Aug 24 next year, as the constitution bars anyone from serving as premier for more than two four-year terms -- regardless of whether the terms were served consecutively or not.:

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • Prayut downplays fears of surge in infections after Nov 1

                              Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday that Thailand is ready to welcome travellers from low-risk countries in a bid to revive Thailand’s economy.

                              Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said fully-vaccinated travellers from 46 countries will be allowed to enter Thailand from November 1 without having to quarantine. He also said the PM wants every organisation to cooperate and protect the public.

                              As for fears that the country’s Covid-19 caseload will surge with outsiders bringing in infections, Prayut said it’s a chance Thailand has to take otherwise tourists will go elsewhere. He also said the country’s capability in dealing with Covid-19 has improved and we must learn to live with the disease.

                              However, he advised people to continue observing all preventive measures like wearing masks, washing hands regularly and maintaining social distancing. He also called on the Public Health Ministry to accelerate the vaccination rollout.

                              From November 1, quarantine will not be mandatory for double-jabbed travellers from Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bhutan, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong.:

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • Prawit goes to war with traffickers

                                Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered authorities to ramp up their efforts in stamping out human trafficking after Thailand was downgraded to the Tier 2 Watchlist in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) annual report.

                                Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, spokesman for the deputy prime minister, said Gen Prawit found several aspects of anti-human trafficking operations inefficient, inadequate and unacceptable.

                                Among them were the alleged involvement of state officials, police and military officers in human trafficking and the use of forced labour in several industries, said the spokesman.

                                Authorities have also failed to separate and identify trafficking victims from traffickers especially in the fishing sector, which hinders the government's efforts in tackling the problem, he said.

                                The spokesman said Gen Prawit has instructed intelligence officials to improve information gathering and find connections which trafficking networks have forged with corrupt officials and submit a weekly report.

                                The Interior Ministry and the Labour Ministry were also told to work closely with police and military officers in combating smuggling rings and make sure that traffickers and corrupt officials are prosecuted, he said.

                                Gen Prawit stressed that disciplinary and criminal investigations must be taken against state officials found involved or negligent while the anti-money laundering law would also be strictly enforced, according to Gen Kongcheep.

                                He also urged business operators to comply with inspections and asked the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to provide assistance and protection for human trafficking victims.

                                In the 2021 TIP report issued by the US in July, Thailand was downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watchlist for the first time in four years.

                                According to the report, less effort had been demonstrated in combating human trafficking, with forced migrant labour being among Washington's main concerns.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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