Newly elected parliament
convenes after 2-year hiatus
Bangkok (AP) - Many key allies of Thailand’s deposed Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra returned to active political duty Monday as the country’s
lower house of parliament convened for its first session since a 2006
HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn presided over the opening ceremony of the
House of Representatives with a brief speech urging lawmakers to restore
stability after two years of political tension and uncertainty.
“Your task is to run the country with reason and rightness, keeping in mind
that the stability and security of the nation is paramount,” he said, adding
a call for reconciliation.
Parliament’s official work began Tuesday when lawmakers nominated a speaker
of the house. The selection of a prime minister was scheduled for yesterday
Thai politics have been turbulent since early 2006, when large protests in
the capital began demanding that Thaksin step down because of alleged
corruption and abuse of power.
His ousting by a Sept. 19, 2006 coup failed to restore stability, even
though a military-installed interim government pursued efforts to erase
Thaksin’s political legacy, largely by filing cases of corruption against
him in the courts.
But the country remains polarized between the former prime minister’s
detractors and supporters, as dramatically illustrated by last month’s
parliamentary election, in which a party aligned with Thaksin emerged with
the greatest number of seats, giving it the right to form a new government.
Thailand has not had an elected legislature since February 24, 2006, when
Thaksin dissolved the parliament and called snap elections in an effort to
halt the street protests calling for his ousting. But the April polls were
boycotted by the opposition and later nullified by the courts as
Thaksin remains popular among the rural majority who benefited from his
populist policies and voted heavily in favor of his allies in the People’s
Power Party at the Dec. 23 polls, the first since the coup.
The imminent installation of an elected government in Thailand may bring
some short-term calm to Thailand’s tumultuous political scene, but few
expect it to last.
A six-party coalition led by the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party controls
about two-thirds of the 480 seats in the House and is expected to form the
new government. The Democrat Party, which won 165 seats, will be the sole
The PPP plans to nominate longtime Thaksin confidant Yongyuth Tiyapairat as
house speaker, the party’s secretary-general, Surapong Suebwonglee, said
Yongyuth is currently under investigation for vote-buying during the
elections, and the Election Commission has said he will lose his seat in the
parliament if he is found guilty.
Yongyuth held several posts under Thaksin, including government spokesman
and environment minister. He also served as one of Thaksin’s top advisers.
The PPP is widely regarded as a front for Thaksin - who was prime minister
from 2001-2006 - and his dissolved Thai Rak Thai party. The PPP has vowed to
reinstate the populist policies that won Thaksin widespread support in the
Much of the tension now is focused on the prospect of Thaksin’s return from
exile, which he has vowed will take place by April. Thaksin, a
tycoon-turned-politician, has spent the past 16 months living in Hong Kong
and England, where he owns the Manchester City soccer club.
Further report confirms new bird flu outbreak
Authorities take stringent measures to contain spread of virus
Chickens from a village in Thailand’s northern province of Phichit have died
and laboratory tests on samples have indicated the presence of an H5 variant
of the avian influenza virus. At present, a closer identification could not
be determined. The new outbreak occurred only a day after the potentially
deadly disease was detected in poultry in nearby Nakhon Sawan province.
Preechan Ruanchan, the governor of Phichit province, said the remaining
poultry in the village would be destroyed, in order to prevent the spread of
the disease. Check points have been set up on provincial roads to prevent
the transportation of birds without authorisation by veterinarians.
All vehicles moving between Ban Mun Nak and Chum Saeng districts are being
sprayed with disinfectant. Officials in several provinces, including
Bangkok, are on high alert since the re-emergence of the virus.
Both in Udon Thani and in the Khlong Khlung district of Kamphaeng Phet,
livestock and health workers have renewed drills intended to inform local
residents of the procedures necessary to contain and prevent further
outbreaks. Villagers have been told to immediately report bird deaths to the
authorities, and have been instructed in the correct methods of disposal. In
Nakhon Sawan, the culling of 40,000 birds has had to be postponed for one
day due to heavy rain. In Bangkok, the governor, Apirak Kosayodhin has
ordered officials to coordinate with the Livestock Development Department as
regards monitoring unexplained poultry deaths.
Senior Public Health Ministry officials, led by permanent secretary Praj
Boonyawongvirot, visited the quarantined farm last Friday. They also visited
a hospital, where health officials are closely monitoring 13 patients
suspected of having contracted the avian influenza virus. The monitoring
will continue for at least two weeks. (TNA)
Blacklisted members of major
drugs ring arrested in Chiang Mai
Undercover police trap wanted men
Lao-U Sae Yang and Thongchai
Sae Cha, both residents of Chiang Mai,
were detained at Suan Luang Rama 9 Park on Chotana Road, Chiang Mai,
where they were found to be in possession of 4,000 Ya-E pills.
A combined anti-drug operation spanning the north of Thailand and the
Thai/Myanmar/Chinese border area was successfully concluded on January 16
with the arrest in Chiang Mai of two major blacklisted drugs smugglers.
Lao-U Sae Yang and Thongchai Sae Cha, both residents of Chiang Mai, were
detained at Suan Luang Rama 9 Park on Chotana Road, Chiang Mai, where they
were found to be in possession of 4,000 Ya-E pills, a form of the illegal
drug ecstasy. Both men are of Thai nationality, but are of ethnic Chinese
Haw heritage, and were on the Office of Narcotics Control Board’s blacklist
of major wanted criminals. They had evaded capture by the police on several
Earlier, undercover police officers had contacted the pair and requested a
supply of 4,000 Ya-E pills, at a cost of 1.6 million baht. The drugs were to
be delivered to Suan Luang Rama 9 Park on Chotana Road on January 16. At the
same time, police organised a surveillance operation in order to track the
criminals as they approached the agreed rendevous. On arrival at the Chotana
1 Esso station on Chotana Road, one man went to the toilets, picked up a bag
from under a garbage pail, and placed it in the car, which was then driven
to the meeting point. On arrival, both men were arrested by waiting police
officers. A search of the car revealed the 4,000 Ya-E pills.
On investigation, it was found that the two men had distributed illegal
drugs in the Chiang Dao district, and were connected with ethnic Chinese
drugs gangs in Chaiprakharn district, Chiang Mai and Pai district, Mae Hong
Son. They had also been heavily involved in the transfer of drugs between
Chiang Mai and Bangkok, and will be charged with possession of narcotics
intended for distribution.
Commissioner Pol. Lt. Gen. Theerasak Chukitkhun reported that this arrest
had been the most important in the current war on drugs in the area, and
that it would be expanded in order to pursue and arrest the two men’s
accomplices. It was noted that the drugs has been smuggled into Thailand
using the Thai/Myanmar/Chinese border area, as army and police activities
along the Malaysian border had increased the risk of detection of smugglers.
40,000 Thai youngsters addicted to inhalants
New law to be introduced
At least 40,000 young Thais, mostly from poor families, are addicted to
breathing inhalants, with the illegal use of these substances ranking third
among addictive drugs use in Thailand, an anti-narcotics official said last
The Deputy Director General of the Narcotics Control and Suppression Board,
Pitaya Jinawat, said that young people are easily lured to inhalant use due
to its cheap price. The substance is widely distributed and authorities are
not sufficiently informed about the dangers of its illegal use to be able to
crack down on its sale and consumption. Police are avoiding arresting
addicts, because of the time involved in sending them for rehabilitation,
and many hospital and rehabilitation centres will not admit addicted
youngsters for treatment. Pitaya called on traders to show responsibility by
helping to control the sale of inhalants to young people, and also appealed
to the business sector to seriously consider employing rehabilitated
A new law will be introduced in July this year which will amend the Inhalant
Prevention Act in order to impose harsher penalties against those selling
inhalants to young people. It will also allow addicts to undergo medical
treatment before an indictment, and raises the age at which youngsters will
be allowed to buy the substances from 17 to 18 years. However, Pitaya
admitted that it would be easy for addicts under the age of 18 to obtain the
substances through their older peers. (TNA)
Protest Rally held at Chiang Mai City Hall by Night Safari employees
More than 200 demonstrate against violation of their human rights
More than 200 employees of the Night Safari demonstrated in front of
Chiang Mai City Hall on January 20 against a decision by the Cabinet to
transfer the Night Safari from the Special Zones Development Organisation
for Sustainable Tourism to the Zoological Organisation of Thailand and to
establish a company for the purpose in which the government is the sole
The demonstrators believe that the objectives of the Zoological Organisation
run contrary to those of the Night Safari and will as a result limit
marketing opportunities and hamper administration. They also state that the
transfer of employees without their agreement is in breach of their human
rights as stated in Article 26 of the Constitution. If their protests are
not taken seriously, the employees insist that they will organise further
demonstrations and may also submit their resignations. A letter to be passed
to the Prime Minister was handed to the Deputy Chiang Mai Governor, Phairoj
Saengphuvong, by the Director of the Night Safari, Upatharn Bhavaphutanont
na Mahasarakham, together with a request to the Cabinet to cancel the order
The Director of the Zoological Organisation of Thailand, Sophon Khamnui,
stated that a resolution of the matter had not yet been reached as it was at
present under discussion by the review committee, after which it would be
presented to the Cabinet.
Assets of the Night Safari are being audited and the transfer itself is
being studied. The Zoological Organisation is part of the Ministry of
Natural Resources and the Environment, and would therefore emphasis care of
the animals as its first priority.
New Speaker of the House still
suspected of vote fraud
Appointment of Yongyuth Tiyapairat has Royal approval
Last Thursday, a member of parliament from the People Power Party, Yongyuth
Tiyapairat, was appointed by Royal command to the position of Speaker of the
In accordance with Thai law, Yongyuth will concurrently become the Speaker
of Parliament. The Royal command also appointed the two deputy speakers,
Somsak Kiatsuranond and Col. Apiwan Viriyachai, also MP’s from the People’s
Yongyuth will perform his duties as speaker for the first time in the yet to
be convened first session of the new parliament, during which the new Prime
Minister will be elected. The leader of the PPP, Samak Sunderavej, is the
strong favourite for the post.
However, Prapan Naiyakowit of the Election Commission has said that the
investigation into Yongyuth’s allegedly fraudulent actions will continue
despite his new appointment. He is accused of allegedly bribing officials in
his home province of Chiang Rai to ensure that they helped in his campaign.
According to Prapan, the Election Commission have followed the correct
procedures and duty of care in deciding whether a winning candidate should
take his seat in parliament. He is quoted as having said,” It is not a
matter of the Election Commission’s indecisiveness, as charged by another
politician. It is merely a matter of evidence.” He also pointed out that
even if an MP has assumed a Cabinet post or other position, investigations
must continue. If they result in a guilty verdict in the Supreme Court,
resignation is mandatory. Five successful candidates have at present yet to
be endorsed by the EC.
Traditionally, voting for a new Prime Minister is done on a “roll call”
basis with each MP standing to announce “yes” or “no” to the proposed
candidate. The PM must be elected by at least half of the total MP’s. The
Lower House is composed of 480 seats. (TNA)
Fatal accident on
Superhighway kills three
Speeding driver caused crash, then runs away
A fatal accident occurred on January 17 on the westbound carriageway
of the Superhighway near Patun Bridge, killing three people and causing
further impacts and injuries to other motorists in the immediate area.
fatal accident occurred on January 17 on the westbound carriageway of the
Superhighway near Patun Bridge, killing three people and causing further
impacts and injuries to other motorists in the immediate area.
Police were immediately on the scene, and reported a demolished Honda City
containing the three dead, Pud Chomjai, 48, Paohom Chomjai, 27, and Jammia
Lunglod, 47. The fourth occupant of the car, Kuang-U Chomjai, had already
been taken to a nearby hospital with back injuries.
Witnesses reported that a Toyota Vigo being driven at a dangerously high
speed had approached from the direction of the Highway 118 junction. Having
reached the end of the bridge, it lost control and swerved 3 metres across
the road to the left, then crossed over to the right hand lane, smashing
into or landing on the Honda City, killing three of its occupants instantly.
The Vigo sustained minor damage, and the driver, apparently only slightly
injured, fled the scene during the ensuing confusion.
Police are tracing the owner of the vehicle through its license plates.
Several other cars which had been following the Honda City were also
involved, with two more people sustaining injuries requiring hospital
treatment as a result. The accident blocked the road, causing a traffic jam
from the Juvenile Court Building to the new Kiang Singh intersection. This
part of the Superhighway is a “black spot” for accidents, fatal or
otherwise, and it has been suggested that the design and engineering of the
bridge itself is faulty and therefore responsible. It has also been
suggested that local people should erect a shrine at the site, in order to
house and protect against the spirits that are causing the accidents.
Communities close to CM Airport complain about noise levels
Damage to buildings causes concern
Following a number of reports from local residents of noise pollution and
damage to property in areas adjacent to Chiang Mai International Airport,
pollution control offices visited homes in Ban Nimman Noradee to take
measurements of the noise levels occurring during take-off and landing of
the 70 plus flights per day at present taking place.
Written complaints have been submitted to the relevant authorities,
particularly concerning the landing of international flights from 2a.m.
onwards, as these involve large aircraft and therefore increased levels of
noise. 90% of flights on a daily basis either take off or land in the
southern area of the airport, adjacent to Ban Nimman Noradee. Complaints
have also been made of damage to roofs due to the combination of upward air
pressure under a plane’s wing and the extra turbulence caused by the
extended and lowered flaps necessary for landing.
Noise pollution data will be compiled, and if it exceeds the maximum legal
limit of 70 decibels, the issue will be taken up with the Environment
Protection Committee who will carry out further tests and simulations. It is
hoped that a solution will be found; however, noise levels and damage will
surely increase when the Airbus A380, the largest aircraft in the world,
comes into service.
National Agenda resolution
aims to promote happiness
“Giving is a resource for happiness”, states H.M. the King
At a Cabinet meeting late last year, a resolution was passed in
honour of His Majesty the King’s 80th birthday, which set up a National
Agenda to be inaugurated on January 30, 2008. This National Agenda will
invite all people in the Kingdom, its government and private organisations
and the general public, to cooperate to support society and so promote
happiness. HM the King himself, stating his initiatives for the New Year,
noted that “Giving is a resource for happiness. Both the giver and the
receiver are happy, both have will power and are united; this brings about
happiness throughout the nation.”
behalf of the Social Development and Human Security Office, its Assistant
Chief, Itthisak Srisukho, invites all residents of Chiang Mai to make
sacrifices for the benefit of society.
On behalf of the Social Development and Human Security Office, its Assistant
Chief, Itthisak Srisukho, invites all residents of Chiang Mai to make
sacrifices for the benefit of society, to provide support for impoverished
people, and to address and try to solve the present problems within society
without receiving any personal benefits as a result. These actions will
expand to make a valuable contribution towards creating moral principles,
and to the encouragement of good deeds, good behaviour and good thought. In
this manner, all people will be helping to create a better, happier, society
throughout the Kingdom, and also, by their actions, will be honouring the
60th year of His Majesty’s reign and his 80th birthday.