BANGKOK, August 26 -- The government has banned hoarding of glutinous rice and will sell discounted packs as prices soar amid shortages.
Government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said on Monday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had ordered the Commerce Ministry to prevent hoarding and to launch discounted packs in the wake of the all-time high price of glutinous rice. Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit ordered the Internal Trade Department to impose the ban immediately since the grain is on the ministry's price control list, Mrs Narumon said. "There will be discussions with millers, traders and cooperatives so they can quickly produce packed glutinous rice at a special price to relieve people's trouble," she said. Mrs Narumon attributed the expensive glutinous rice to drought that caused its low yield. The situation should improve when the new yield comes out in October, she said. Glutinous rice now sells for 50,000 baht a tonne while Hom Mali fragrant rice costs 35,000 baht. Local retail prices were nearly 50 baht per kilogram and a smallest bag of steamed glutinous rice is now 10 baht, double recent prices.
BANGKOK, August 23 -- It was an encouraging talk with the Prime Minister of Thailand about the case of the Dutch coffee shop owner Johan van Laarhoven.
Minister of Justice Ferd Grapperhaus said after the consultation. "Thailand is open to a solution in the case," said the minister. Grapperhaus spoke for 45 minutes with the Prime Minister of Thailand about the Van Laarhoven case. In Thailand, he was sentenced to decades in prison for money laundering. The minister says that the justice ministries of both countries are going to work on a solution. "That solution must fit within the framework of the Thai legal system," says Grapperhaus. "A solution will not last for years and hopefully not even a matter of months." Next Tuesday there will be the final decision in the appeal case.
One hundred imprisonment
Dutch prosecution department asked Thailand in 2014 for help with a criminal investigation into the coffee shop owner, which he had established in the Netherlands. The Thai public prosecutor then prosecuted Van Laarhoven and his wife Mingkwan Kaenin. Van Laarhoven was sentenced for hundred year imprisonment and his wife for twelve years. In April, the House of Representatives urged Grapperhaus to work to get Van Laarhoven back to the Netherlands, following a firm judgment from the National Dutch Ombudsman.
BANGKOK, August 21 -- The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on Wednesday warned of flash floods and landslides in 21 provinces in the North, the Northeast, Central Plains and eastern regions until Thursday.
Of the 21 provinces listed as possible affected areas, certain districts in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Nan, Tak, Uttaradit are particularly at risk from flash floods and landslides as a result of prolonged heavy rain, said department director-general Chayaphon Thitisak. The rain is the result of a monsoon trough in the Northern region and the impact from a southwest monsoon in the Andaman Sea and the upper Gulf of Thailand, according to the department. Emergency response teams have been put on round the clock standby in flood-prone localities in mountainous areas sucn as Nan province, according to Mr Chayaphon. Those living in low-lying areas are being advised to closely monitor weather updates throughout this period, he said.
In the South, however, rice growers in Nakhon Si Thammarat are calling on the government to declare a new drought-hit zone, with about 10,000 rai of paddy fields having been totally destroyed by drought over the past few months. Chetsada Banchongsut, their leader, said he and other rice farmers in Chalerm Prakiat district had tried to fight the drought themselves and lost about 130,000 baht pumping water into rice fields to save their crops, but the drought lasted so long that they could not cope anymore. The farmers now want the government to help by declaring their damaged rice fields a drought-hit zone so they will be entitled to compensation, he said. Sa Kaeo governor Wichit Chatphaisit said the province is assisting about 12,300 families, who own 79,950 rai of paddy fields in five tambon in Ta Phraya district which have already been damaged by drought. Two large water pumps were sent to affected areas to draw water and supply the communities, said the governor. As of Tuesday, Sa Kaeo's irrigation project had about 76.43 million cubic metres of water, which is enough to supply tap water for the entire province for the next 160 days, he said.
BANGKOK, August 21 -- Thailand's finance ministry has cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to 3.0% from the 3.8% it projected in April, due to falling exports.
The ministry also said it changed its 2019 estimate for exports, a key driver of growth, to a fall of 0.9% instead of a 3.4% rise. However, the economy will be helped by a $10 billion stimulus package approved by the cabinet on Tuesday, it said. The outlook downgrade came a day after Thailand reported second-quarter growth of 2.3%, the weakest annual pace in nearly five years. Southeast Asia's second-largest economy expanded 4.1% last year, the best in six years.
BANGKOK, August 20 -- In July, at the Bangkok Asean Film Festival, Vietnamese movie The Third Wife was honored with a Special Mention prize, with the jury noting its meticulous craftsmanship, strong acting and confident directing.
In the movie set in rural Vietnam in the late 19th century, a young girl becomes the third wife of a wealthy land-owner. There are sex scenes and sequences showing child-birth. But while the film has been well-received overseas, including winning a prize at Toronto International Film Festival 2018, it has been yanked out of cinemas in Vietnam. Audiences, reported Vietnam News, are shocked that the character is played by Nguyen Phuong Tra My, who was then only 13 years old. Citizens have blasted Vietnamese film-maker Ash Mayfair over her casting decision. My's mother was also slammed for allowing her daughter to be involved, with some detractors wondering if she was blinded by the pursuit of fame and money. The VnExpress portal cited child protection experts as saying that the sex scenes could have a psychological effect on a young actress. Mayfair told the Hollywood Reporter: "We didn't do anything wrong and we broke no law. They can't attack us on those grounds so there have been attempts to smear the ethics of the actress' mother, publishing her personal details online and saying she had sold her daughter for money."
Defending the subject matter in her film, she said: "These questions are open for debate and I have no problem with that. We talk about women's rights and we are very critical about patriarchal traditions that have been in the country for centuries." My was reportedly selected after the director auditioned more than 900 candidates. My, who is now 15 and was said to have convinced her parents that she could perform the role, is upset that the movie cannot be seen by Vietnamese, even as it has drawn applause elsewhere. Hollywood trade publication Variety, in its review of the film, said: "In May (portrayed by My) and in Ha and Xuan (the other two wives), there are all the women and girls of the past who've been ignored, abused, forced into competition with one another, made to endure a degradation of spirit and a commodification of body so complete it should have resulted in their annihilation, like silkworms steaming alive inside their cocoons". "But with The Third Wife, new talent Mayfair reclaims just a few of those silvery strands from the neglect of history and weaves them into a film so sensuous we can lose ourselves in it, but so vividly real we might also be able to find ourselves there." Vietnam's censors have reportedly asked Mayfair to submit an edited version of the movie for screening clearance.
กรุงเทพฯ, 14 สิงหาคม -- ศาลในประเทศไทยได้ยกเลิกข้อหาก่อการร้ายต่อผู้นำ 24 คนของการประท้วงบนท้องถนนในปี 2010 ซึ่งเห็นว่าพื้นที่สำคัญในใจกลางกรุงเทพฯปิดตัวลงและถูกปกคลุมด้วยความรุนแรง
ศาลอาญากรุงเทพตัดสินเมื่อวันพุธว่าการประท้วงสองเดือนโดยผู้สนับสนุนเสื้อแดงของอดีตนายกรัฐมนตรีทักษิณชินวัตรซึ่งมีผู้เสียชีวิต 91 คนและผู้บาดเจ็บนับพันได้รับบาดเจ็บนั่นคือ "การต่อสู้ทางการเมืองไม่ใช่การก่อการร้าย" จำเลยถูกปล่อยตัวพ้นข้อหาทั้งหมด คดีดังกล่าวถูกดำเนินคดีโดยพนักงานอัยการและเจ้าของธุรกิจกว่า 40 รายที่ได้รับผลกระทบจากการถูกจับกุมของกลุ่มคนเสื้อแดงในย่านช็อปปิ้งและย่านธุรกิจของกรุงเทพฯ คดีเกี่ยวข้องกับการก่อการร้ายสมาคมอาชญากรรมใช้กำลังเพื่อทำลายทรัพย์สินของรัฐปลุกระดมความไม่สงบการครอบครองอาวุธการขัดขวางเจ้าหน้าที่ผ่านการข่มขู่และการรวมตัวกันมากกว่า 10 คนเพื่อก่อให้เกิดความโกลาหล การบาดเจ็บล้มตายรวมถึงทหารเช่นเดียวกับผู้ประท้วง ชายติดอาวุธไม่ทราบชื่อในชุดดำซึ่งมีอาวุธรวมถึงปืนกลลูกระเบิดมือทำหน้าที่เป็นผู้ช่วยติดอาวุธลึกลับให้กับผู้ประท้วง แต่ปรากฏว่าคนตายส่วนใหญ่เป็นพลเรือนที่ไม่มีอาวุธ
ทักษิณถูกโค่นล้มโดยรัฐประหารเมื่อปี 2549 หลังจากถูกกล่าวหาว่าทุจริตและใช้อำนาจในทางที่ผิด พันธมิตรของเขาชนะการเลือกตั้งในปี 2550 แต่การซ้อมรบของรัฐสภาได้ติดตั้งพรรคประชาธิปัตย์ที่เป็นคู่แข่งในปี 2551 ซึ่งเป็นแรงบันดาลใจในการประท้วงปี 2010 ที่เรียกร้องให้นายกรัฐมนตรีอภิสิทธิ์เวชชาชีวะลงจากตำแหน่ง ผู้ขับไล่ของทักษิณเริ่มต้นปีแห่งความขัดแย้งรุนแรงระหว่างผู้สนับสนุนและฝ่ายตรงข้ามของเขาซึ่งมีส่วนร่วมในการประท้วงบนท้องถนนอย่างดุเดือดต่อรัฐบาลที่นำโดยฝ่ายอื่น ในช่วงสามเดือนของการประท้วงบนท้องถนนในปี 2551 ศัตรูของทักษิณ - ที่รู้จักกันในนามกลุ่มคนเสื้อเหลืองครอบครองสำนักงานของนายกรัฐมนตรีและสนามบินนานาชาติของกรุงเทพฯประมาณหนึ่งสัปดาห์ ในเดือนกรกฎาคมศาลอาญาพิพากษายกฟ้องการจลาจลต่อสมาชิกสำคัญสี่คนของกลุ่มต่อต้านทักษิณซึ่งเป็นคณะกรรมการปฏิรูปประชาธิปไตยของประชาชน กลุ่มได้จัดการประท้วงบนถนนขนาดใหญ่และก้าวร้าวในปลายปี 2556 ที่รัฐบาลนำโดย Yingluck Shinawatra น้องสาวของทักษิณไม่สามารถควบคุมได้ มันนำไปสู่ความโกลาหลอย่างกว้างขวางและทำหน้าที่เป็นเหตุผลสำหรับกองทัพที่จะเข้ายึดครองการปฏิวัติในปี 2557 การเลือกตั้งในเดือนมีนาคมปีนี้นำพรรคทหารเข้ามามีอำนาจ
BANGKOK, August 14 -- A court in Thailand has dismissed terrorism charges against 24 leaders of an extended street protest in 2010 that saw key areas of central Bangkok closed off and engulfed in violence.
The Bangkok Criminal Court ruled on Wednesday that the two-month protest by the Red Shirt supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, during which 91 people were killed and thousands were hurt, was "a political fight, not terrorism". The defendants were acquitted of all charges. The case was brought by state prosecutors and more than 40 business owners affected by the Red Shirts' seizure of Bangkok's central shopping and business district. The case involved charges of terrorism, criminal association, using force to damage government property, inciting unrest, possession of arms, obstruction of officials through intimidation and gathering more than 10 people to cause chaos. The casualties included soldiers as well as protesters. Unidentified armed men in black, whose weapons included grenade launchers, acted as a mysterious armed auxiliary to the protesters, but it appeared that most of the dead were unarmed civilians.
Years of conflict
Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. His allies won a 2007 election, but parliamentary maneuvering installed the rival Democrat Party in power in 2008, inspiring the 2010 protest that called for Democrat Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down. Thaksin's ouster set off years of sometimes violent conflict between his supporters and opponents, who engaged in aggressive street protests against governments led by the other's faction. During three months of street protests in 2008, Thaksin's foes - known as the Yellow Shirts - occupied the prime minister's offices, as well as Bangkok's international airport for about a week. In July, the criminal court dismissed charges of insurrection against four key members of an anti-Thaksin group, the People's Democratic Reform Committee. The group organised large, aggressive street protests in late 2013 that a government led by Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, could not control. It led to widespread chaos, and served as a reason for the military to stage a 2014 takeover. An election in March this year brought a pro-military party to power.
BANGKOK, August 14 -- Prime Minister/Defense Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said today he personally has confidence in the stability of his government regarding the performance of all the elected cabinet ministers.
The premier commented further, that parliamentary affairs are another issue and that all parties should join hands and perform for the benefit of national and public interests. Ongoing concerns over a majority or minority presence in parliament will not get the country going, while the government is committed to working in pursuit of the optimum interests of the people. Besides, the premier commented that opposition parties which are pushing the constitution amendment issue need to take legal protocols into account. He commented that fake news has been used for political gain as earlier anticipated. He said members of the public may make inquiries with the government about such matters via various channels.
Meanwhile, certain persons are being appointed to assume political posts in several ministries and such political appointments will be completed next week. The prime minister has the authority to name persons to political posts in various ministries. The premier denied he would hold talks or lunch with any splinter parties on Thursday, and had no idea if anyone else was planning to do so.
Despite Red Bull team boss Christian Horner saying in Hungary the team intended to keep Gasly in the seat until the end of the season, the decision has been taken to demote the Frenchman back to Toro Rosso. "Alexander Albon is being promoted to the team to drive alongside Max, while Pierre will return to the Red Bull sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso," a statement from Red Bull reads. "Red Bull are in the unique position of having four talented Formula One drivers under contract who can be rotated between the Team and Toro Rosso. The Team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max in 2020.
"Everyone at the Team looks forward to welcoming Alex and supporting him during the next phase of his F1 career."
PHNOM PENH, August 12 -- While Cambodia welcomes an ongoing influx of Chinese tourists, investment and development, the world at large increasingly suspects that China is launching a military buildup in the country for stronger Chinese influence in Southeast Asia.
Dara Sakor, a new China-backed coastal resort in Koh Kong province, located some 400 kilometers southwest of Phnom Penh by road, covers almost 20 percent of the country's coastline. Having obtained a 99-year land lease from the Cambodian government, the Chinese developer was allowed to develop on 36,000 hectares of land in the province, raising questions about China's intentions in Cambodia. Washington has repeatedly shared its concerns about the matter with Cambodia's leadership. In November last year, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence wrote a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen raising the issue of China's presence and the land concession in Koh Kong awarded to Union Group. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Felter as well as U.S. Congressman Steve Chabot also expressed concerns about the Chinese presence in Cambodia. But both the Cambodian government and the Chinese company denied the allegations and claim there is no hidden agenda behind the massive project. Wang Chao, vice president of Union Group, said the $3.8 billion project is part of the "One Belt and One Road Initiative" of Chinese President Xi Jinping and purely for commercial and tourism purposes. He said Union Group found the area to be ideal as it is close to a national park, standing on a coastline with a beautiful beach and suitable for a deep-water seaport.
Kyodo News reporters recently traveled to the site, where they witnessed extensive construction under way, with an 18-hole golf course, a hotel, and one casino already completed. Dara Sakor International Airport, which has a 3-kilometer tarmac, is set to open in October next year. Once completed, it will be the largest airport in Cambodia, capable of handling Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s. According to Cambodia's tourism statistics, 2 million out of 6.2 million foreign tourists who visited Cambodia in 2018 were Chinese. Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Cambodia expects to receive 3 million Chinese tourists next year, 5 million a year by 2025 and 8 million a year by 2030.
The United States fears that China's presence will ultimately increase its capacity to enforce territorial claims and economic interests in the South China Sea, where it is engaged in a territorial dispute. The dispute involves China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam. Vietnam, Cambodia's neighbor in the east, has been strongly critical of China's behavior in pressing its claims in the South China Sea. For about a year now, Chinese have been seen moving further to several parts of Cambodia including those along the country's border with Vietnam to pursue business opportunities, particularly where gambling is allowed. Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that China has signed a secret agreement with Cambodia that would allow Beijing to use Ream naval base, strategically located in southern coastal Cambodia. According to the Journal, an early draft of the deal, seen by U.S. officials, would allow China to use the base for 30 years, with automatic renewals every 10 years after that. China would be able to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships, according to the draft. Ream naval base is located not far from the new airport, images of which show what appear to be preparations for runway turns needed for quick takeoffs and landings by military aircraft, the Journal said. Wang of Union Group denied allegations that the Dara Sakor project is connected with Beijing establishing a military presence. "The project is purely for commercial and tourism. I can assure you that it's not at all built for any military purpose. It's an open place and we welcome those who want to visit the site for clarification," he said. Phay Siphan, chief spokesman of the Cambodian government, also denied the allegation. "Frankly, it is impossible for China to have such a military presence in Cambodia as it goes against the ASEAN principle and the country's Constitution," he said. "It's not smart for Cambodia to allow China to do so; thus Cambodia can't make it happen," he added.