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« : 28-02-2007, 10:46 »


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µҢͧšHome ӻС Thailand moves to control private television station


Thailand says it will take control of the nations only private
television broadcaster if it fails to meet a deadline next week to pay
$US2.8 billion in fines and overdue fees.

The battle over iTV marks the latest move by the military-backed government
against companies controlled by Shin Corp, a telecom giant founded by
deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Shin Corp was bought last year by Singapores state-linked investment firm Temasek, sparking a popular uproar that eventually led to the coup against
Thaksin in September.

The takeover threat came after iTV lost a court battle over its concession fees. The company faces a March 6 deadline to settle the overdue fees and fines.

We have to revoke the concession because iTV cannot pay the amount of money ordered by court, Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said.

We have no any other choice. We need to cancel its concession because we are the owner of airwaves, he said.

ITV began broadcasting mainly as a news network in 1996, as the only
free-to-air station in Thailand not run by either the government or the
military.

Thai press freedom groups are worried that a
government takeover would destroy what little independent reporting
still exists on the nations airwaves.

This would be a step backward for media, said Supinya Klangnarong, who heads the Campaign for Popular Media Reform.

Taking control of iTV will mean that all the stations have the same news
reports. Having iTV as a private, independent station is a way to
balance the news reports, she said.

The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association urged the government not to take over iTV, but to help the company restructure to settle its debts before returning as an independent station.


Associated Press 02.27.07,
9:56 AM ET

ITV Faces Loss of Concession in Thailand


Thailands iTV television network, the countrys only network not
owned by the government, will lose its broadcasting concession if it
fails to pay millions of dollars (euros) in unpaid fees by March 6, the
finance minister said Tuesday.

If iTV fails to pay the fine there is no other option, Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. He added that if the government doesnt do anything we will look like clowns.

He said that programming would be continued and employees would not lose their jobs if the company is taken over by the government.

In what amounted to a surrender to the inevitable, iTV said later Tuesday that it would not be able to pay the nearly 100 billion baht (US$2.9 billion; euro2.2
billion) in fines, unpaid fees and interest that the government has
demanded by March 6, and has exhausted all efforts to reach a
settlement.

Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, the executive chairman of iTV, said the company would cooperate with the government for a smooth transition of ownership.

The television station is part of the former telecommunications empire of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose Shin Corp. conglomerate - sold to the Singapore governments investment arm, Temasek Holdings, in January 2006 - is its majority owner.

A court ruled last year that changes made by an arbitrator to the terms of its concession contract with the government were illegal, prompting the Prime Ministers Office, which granted the concession, to demand the fines, unpaid fees and interest.

The station lost its final appeal in December, and could get no relief from either its creditor or the courts.

Pridiyathorn said that if iTV is taken over by the government, it probably will not be able to use the same name, which stands for Independent TV.

The decision to set up iTV came after 1992 pro-democracy street protests
that overthrew Thailands then-military-backed government. Television
stations at the time - all owned by the military or the government -
were restricted from broadcasting the protests, prompting the creation
of a more impartial news station. The granting of the concession was
part of a broad movement to promote greater democracy, including a new
constitution.

After Shin Corp. took over iTV in 2001, it drew
criticism for lacking impartiality, particularly in coverage of
Thaksins administration.

The broadcaster posted a net loss Monday of 1.78 billion baht (US$53 million; euro40 million) in 2006, compared with a net profit of 679 million baht a year earlier, mainly because of huge provisions for concession fees and penalty interest charges.


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February 27th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | Uncategorized | No Comments

Thai military to take action against TRT leader

www.chinaview.cn
2007-02-27 17:33:11

BANGKOK, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) Thailands military
authority Council for National Security (CNS) decided on Tuesday to
take legal action against the acting leader of Thailands former ruling
Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT), Chaturon Chaisang for alleged violation to
the ban on political activities,CNS spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.


According to a report on Bangkok Post website, Sansern said Chaturons visit to voters in the northeastern provinces of Thailand violates a ban on political
activities, which was imposed by the CNS after it launched the Sept. 19
coup last year to oust then premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin later resigned as leader of the ruling TRT party while he remained out of Thailand since the coup, and Chaturon was appointed as acting party leader.

Chaturon were reportedly touring the northeastern provinces, considered stronghold of the TRT party, and talking to local people about policies of the deposed administration.

The CNS will report this to the premier to ask for his permission to allow cooperation from related agencies including the Interior Minister, the Royal Thai Police and the Election Commission, Sansern was quoted as saying.


CNS to prosecute Chaturon for visiting Issan



Council for National Security (CNS) will prosecute Chaturon
Chaisang, acting leader of Thai Rak Thai Party, for violating a ban on
political activities.


Chaturon violated the ban by making a visit to the northeastern provinces to meet with supporters, a CNS spokeswoman said.

The junta decided Tuesday that his trip violated bans on political
activities imposed shortly after the military ousted Thaksin in a
bloodless coup in September, she said.

He will be prosecuted for disobeying an official order. All of his activities,
including meetings with students and discussions on Thai Rak Thai
policies, are political activities.

Chaturon has said he informed the junta of his trip last week, but the junta denied he had told them of his travel plans.

The spokeswoman did not say what the penalty would be for violating the ban.

Chaturon took the reins of TRT after the coup as scores of top-level members defected from the once-mighty party.

TRT has enjoyed broad support in northern Thailand, where Thaksins
populist policies boosted rural incomes and helped pull farmers out of
poverty. He is planning to visit northern provinces in the near future.

The junta has refused to lift its ban on political activities more than
five months after the coup, even as Thailand is supposed to be
preparing for a referendum on a new constitution and elections later
this year.

All of the countrys major parties have urged
the junta to lift the ban so that they can take part in ongoing talks
on drafting a new constitution.




Coup council moves on acting ex-ruling party leader


BANGKOK, Feb 27 (TNA) The Council for National Security (CNS) will ask Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to move against the acting leader of the
former ruling Thai Rak Thai Party who has conducted a local political
campaign by visiting villagers in the rural Northeast.


Spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the CNS called on the
Surayud government to take action against acting Thai Rak Thai leader
Chaturon Chaisaeng for breached the coup makers orders No. 15 and 27,
which prohibit all political activity.


The orders were issued by the military junta, earlier known as the
Council for Democratic Reform, who staged the coup to depose premier
Thaksin Shinawatra in September.


Mr. Chaturon earlier said he would proceed with his plan to visit
villagers in the North, following those in the Isaan (Northeast)
provinces.


Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the CNS
to consider lifting those orders as soon as possible because, he said,
politicians would naturally prefer to see their constituents, no matter
if during the campaign season or not.


Such prohibitions, Mr. Abhisit said, would put the government itself
in unnecessary trouble, not the political parties. National security
matters would not be affected if the political bans were lifted, he
said. (TNA)-E008



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February 27th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | Uncategorized | No Comments

Thai red tape thwarts anti-Thaksin graft drive - analysts



Tuesday February 27, 5:27 PM
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailands army-appointed government is piling up
graft allegations against ousted billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, but the chances of putting him behind bars remain remote,
analysts said.

Having cited rampant corruption by Thaksin and his cabinet
colleagues as the main reason for their Sept. 19 coup, the generals
ordered teams of accountants and lawyers to go out and dig up the
evidence within a year.

But after five months, the Asset Scrutiny Committee (ASC) has
come up with little beyond its own vague accusations, due mainly to a
Byzantine bureaucracy and the reluctance of officials who worked under
Thaksin to cooperate for fear of implicating themselves, analysts said.

They are dealing with experienced politicians who have made
corruption seamless and left no evidence to trace, said political
analyst Prayad Hongtongkhum.

Judging from the time constraint and lack of cooperation from
other state agencies, it is almost impossible for the ASC to finish all
their probes and put the big fishes in jail.

The committee has made progress in a dozen graft cases, but has
wrapped up only one investigation a tax evasion case against
Thaksins wife and her brother.

The case was handed earlier this month to prosecutors who said they needed about a month to decide whether to bring charges.

Other probes include the purchase of 26 U.S.-made bomb scanners
at Bangkoks new airport, which Thaksin and 21 other politicians are
accused of deliberately overpricing for their own gain.

WIFE IMPLICATED

The ASC accuses Thaksins wife Potjaman of underpaying for a
prime piece of Bangkok real estate she bought from the central bank.

The ASC concluded the couple broke anti-graft and criminal laws
barring spouses of cabinet ministers from business deals with state
agencies, committee members told Reuters.

If found guilty, Thaksin and Potjaman face up to 10 years in jail and confiscation of the land.

However, any trial is still months away as the ASC says it wants
to hear Thaksins side of the story before sending its findings to
prosecutors. He is in exile and the government says he cannot return
until after elections are held.

Thailands three-tier court system is also likely to give Thaksin years of freedom as he conducts multiple appeals.

With the procedure the ASC has been given to work on and the
complex court system we have, the chance of putting Thaksin in jail is
very, very small, political radio show host Piroon Chatwanichkul said.

Thaksins lawyer shrugs off the accusations.

The ASC was set up to justify the coup which accused the
Thaksin government of widespread corruption, Noppadon Pattama told
Reuters. The allegations were meant to boost the governments
popularity, he said.

The ASCs failure to bring swift action against Thaksin has led
to a sharp dip in the popularity of the post-coup administration of
interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, a former army
commander-in-chief and adviser to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Surayuds approval rating, 70.5 percent a month after his
appointment in November, dropped to 34.8 percent this month, according
to a poll released at the weekend.




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February 27th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | Uncategorized | No Comments

Economic nationalism grips Thailand


By Amy Kazmin in Bangkok

Published: February 27 2007 00:07
Last updated: February 27 2007 00:07

In good times, the Niwat materials shop
in north-east Thailand bustles with villagers buying tools, cement,
paint and other home improvement materials.

But these days, the family-owned shop is virtually deserted as rural Thais restrict home repairs to essential maintenance.

If the economy is good, a lot of villagers come to buy materials to fix up
their houses, says Somchai Limprasit, the 44-year-old owner.

But now its very quiet. We worry that the economy will be the same as in 1997 [when the economic bubble burst].

Many Thai and foreign investors were optimistic last September when the army
ousted Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister in a bloodless coup after a
year of upheaval.

With the polarising Mr Thaksin in exile, Thai
business people, foreign executives and many local consumers thought
the country would return to business as usual under the stewardship of
a capable, technocratic cabinet.

But almost six months on, the military-installed government has proved a disappointment to those who
expected a quick return to political stability and business-friendly
policies aimed at revving up faltering growth.

The consumer index has slumped for five consecutive months. Shopping malls are eerily
quiet, and vehicle sales in January were at a four-year low. Thai and
foreign companies are putting new projects on hold.

Pridiyathorn Devakula, the military-installed governments economic policy tsar,
insists Thailand still welcomes foreign investment.

But analysts say government policy since the coup has begun to reflect a
determination to reassert Thai control over multinational companies,
currency speculators and others perceived to be exploiting Thailands
open door.

They have a deep distrust of influences they cant control, said Supavud Saicheua, managing director of Phatra Securities.

For them, if at the margins they assert control and lose some growth, its
an OK trade-off. But they may be miscalculating the trade-off.

Mr Pridiyathorn and his team jolted investors by botching the imposition
and subsequent partial reversal of capital controls in December.

They have also introduced plans for stricter investment laws that would
force many foreign direct investors to reduce their Thai holdings.

In another stroke of economic nationalism, Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, the army
chief and coup leader, has apparently resolved as a matter of
national interest forcibly to reverse the $3.8bn takeover by
Singapores Temasek Holdings of Shin Corp, the telecoms empire Mr
Thaksin founded before entering politics.

Thailands political stability remains fragile.

Mr Thaksin continues to cast a shadow from exile, rattling the military
with interviews and speeches that suggest he is far from resigned to a
future of golf and shopping.

With the military committed to a referendum on a new constitution in the coming months and fresh
elections by the end of the year, many expect turbulence and believe Mr
Thaksin could use his fortune and popularity in rural areas to engineer
a comeback.

If Thaksin is still going round making noise, people
think Oh, what if Thaksin comes back, said Vikrom Kromadit, chief
executive of Amata, an industrial estate developer. Thaksin says No,
but nobody believes him.

Security has emerged as another worry.

A series of bombs in Bangkok on New Years Eve were initially blamed on
Thaksin supporters, but have been more recently linked to the Muslim
separatist insurgency previously confined to the south.

Foreign portfolio investors have been flowing back into the Thai stock market to snap up equities.

But private investment, which until recently was expected to drive growth
this year, remains slack. Many large foreign direct investors have
opted to put new factories in Vietnam or Malaysia instead of Thailand.

Investors seeing a situation like this just have to step back, and look and listen for a while, said Mr Vikrom.

Our internal conflicts are turning investors away from Thailand.

Additional reporting by Panvadee Uraisin in Bangkok

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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February 27th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | | No Comments

Thai TV station to launch in defiance of military

Web posted at: 2/26/2007 3:39:38

Source ::: AFP

BANGKOK A television station founded by members of ousted Thai premiers
Thaksin Shinawatras political party is preparing to launch in defiance
of Thailands military-installed government, its chairman said
yesterday.




The new 24-hour satellite channel Peoples Television, or PTV, was unveiled
last week to educate the Thai people about what is going on in
politics and the economy, its founder and chairman Veera Musigapong
said.




However, rumours soon began to swirl that the station was set up to discredit
the ruling junta and was being covertly funded by Thaksin, who was
ousted in a military coup last October.




The Office of the Prime Minister swiftly stepped in and said the channel
would be operating without a licence and could be shut down, the
Bangkok Post newspaper reported last week.




But a defiant PTV said it would start broadcasting as planned on Thursday.





We will launch the satellite TV channel as planned despite (the Office of
the Prime Minister) threatening to take action against us, PTV founder
and chairman Veera Musigapong said.




Veera was a senior board member of Thai Rak Thai, the political party Thaksin
founded and led up until his ouster last year. Thaksin has remained in
exile since the coup, periodically giving interviews to cvarious media
outlets.




Veera quit from the Thai Rak Thai board last week, and set up PTV with former
Thai Rak Thai deputy spokesman Jatuporn Phromphan, who also resigned as
a board member last week.




However, both men are still members of the twice-elected political party. Some
of the stations hosts are also connected to the party and include Thai
Rak Thai lawyer Thana Benjathikul.




There is no financial backup from Thaksin, Veera insisted Sunday. We will
speak on behalf of the public, not for the benefit of a certain group
of people, including the Thai Rak Thai party.




The station would, however, debate statements and policies of the junta and the civilian government it installed, Veera said.





We are not trying to attack the interim government or the junta we
dont want to see the general election delayed or any other
interruption to politics, he said.




If they want to stop us from launching the programme, they must do the same thing with other satellite channels, he added.





A variety of censorship orders were issued after Thaksin was ousted in
September, including a threat by the junta last month to shut down
broadcasters who carried statements by the deposed leader.

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February 26th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | | No Comments

Drug use on the rise in Thailand: official

10:03, February 25, 2007

Thailands
use of illicit recreational and hard drugs is growing again, especially
among young people, after a lull during the tough war on drugs by the
former administration of Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai News Agency
Saturday quoted officials as saying.

Kitti Limchaikij, secretary-general of the Office of the
Narcotics Control Board (NCB), after attending a national anti- drugs
board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont at Government
House, said there has been a substantial growth in the use of so-called
club drugs which include crystal methamphetamine or ice, cocaine,
ketamine and ecstasy in the country.

The conflict in Afghanistan
is thought to have contributed to an explosion in opium production, as
the drug trade is believed to help fund the Taliban-led insurgency, he
said.

Last year, Afghanistan had a record opium crop, enough to make
670 tons of heroin, more than the amount the worlds addicts consume
annually, according to a U.S. official estimate.

Meanwhile, the area under opium cultivation in Thailand grew
by 10 percent from the previous year, mostly in the northern province
of Tak, Kitti said.

Another worrying trend was that between 8-10 percent of ex-
addicts resume drug use. Over 70 percent of drug runners arrested by
the police in the past year were teenagers. Moreover, smuggling of
illegal drugs along Thailands eastern border with Cambodia was on the rise though the amount of narcotics smuggled through the north was declining, the NCB chief added.

Moreover, he said abuse of illicit narcotics in Thailands deep
south has reached a record level. Kitti attributed the rise to the fact
that law enforcement officials attention was increasingly drawn to
security matters amid frequent violent attacks by suspected insurgents
in the restive region.

Government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp insisted that there was
no letup in government campaign against illegal drugs. Efforts in the
past two months have cut down trafficking in the north by half, he
said.

Source: Xinhua



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February 25th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | Uncategorized | No Comments

Army-appointed Thai PMs popularity drops further
Sunday February 25, 6:40 PM






Photo:
Reuters
Click to enlarge

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Army-appointed Thai Prime Minister Surayud
Chulanont has suffered a further fall in popularity months after the
removal of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to a poll
released on Sunday.

Surayud, a former army commander-in-chief and adviser to revered
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, won approval from 34.8 percent of respondents,
compared with 39.2 percent early this month and 70.5 percent in
November, it showed.

Respondents expressed disappointment over Surayuds failure to bring graft charges against Thaksin.

Around half also expressed doubts that a general election
promised within 12 months by the army when it booted out Thaksin in a
Sept. 19 coup would not happen this year.

The poll, by Bangkoks Assumption University, interviewed 1,373 people in the capital during Feb. 21-24.

Chief pollster Noppadon Kannika said the poll results were of
national significance since the political mood in the capital has
tended to determine the fate of the country.

The poll also suggested Surayuds administration had not brought
more happiness to the electorate than Thaksins, and was
underperforming its predecessor in combatting social problems such as
drug abuse.

The army cited rampant corruption as one of the main reasons
for its removal of Thaksin, winner of landslide election victories in
2001 and 2005.

A graft-busting panel set up to probe alleged wrongdoings
committed by him, his cabinet ministers and their families has failed
to produce any concrete evidence.




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February 25th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | Uncategorized | No Comments

Thai PM casts doubt on October election

25 February 2007

KUALA LUMPUR - Thailands army-installed prime minister has cast
doubt over whether elections will go ahead in October as promised by
the military leadership, Malaysian state media said Sunday.

Surayud Chulanot said Thailands interim government was proceeding with its timetable but could not confirm an October election.

I cannot say at the moment, Surayud said in an interview with the official Bernama news agency, when asked about the deadline.

It still depends a lot on the drafting committee, like when it is
able to provide the first draft for a referendum, or when we can set a
timeframe for the referendum. After the referendum, we will proceed
with the general elections, he said.

The military ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a
bloodless coup on September 19 last year, and quickly scrapped the
constitution and imposed martial law.

Work has begun on drafting a new constitution, which must be
approved by a referendum, while the military has also said it will hold
elections by October to restore democracy by years end.

As a government, if we can proceed with the planned time-table, I
think thats a success, Surayud said, adding he was confident
elections would be held.

A poll earlier this month by a Thai university showed public
approval of the army-installed government had plunged and Surayuds
popularity had fallen to 48 percent from nearly 71 percent in November.

But the premier said he had a mandate from the public and would continue in his position until the return to democracy.

I received this job with a strong mandate from the people that I
have to be here to serve (and to attend to) the political and security
problems in Thailand, he told Bernama.

- AFP/ir




February 25, 2007 16:45 PM 
 

Surayud To Fade Out Of Politics Once Elections Are Held




By D.Arul Rajoo and Yong Soo Heong

BANGKOK, Feb 25 (Bernama) Thai Prime Minister General Surayud
Chulanont says that he will retire from politics once his
military-installed interim government is able to hold general elections
in due course.

I will take a rest. For me, I am not going to get involved in
politics, he said when asked what were his plans once he retires as
the 33rd prime minister of Thailand.

A career military officer, Surayud, was born on Aug 28, 1943 in
Phetchaburi. A graduate of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, he
rose to become the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Army before he
retired in 2003. Towards the end of 2003, he was appointed a member of
the Privy Council of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Surayud became the prime minister on Oct 1 last year when former prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a bloodless coup on Sept 19,
2006.

I received this job with a strong mandate from the people that I have
to be here to serve (and to attend to) the political and security
problems in Thailand. So after this, if they can have an elected
government from the people by the people, I think thats it, he said
in an interview with Bernama at his office here on Friday evening.
Asked whether he was confident that the elections would be held, the
63- year-old Surayud replied, Sure, I am confident.

To a question whether the general elections would be held by October
this year, he said, I cannot say at the moment. It still depends a lot
on the drafting committee like when it is able to provide the first
draft for a referendum on when we can set a timeframe for the
referendum. After the referendum, we will proceed with the general
elections.

The referendum is to be called to approve the countrys new constitution after it had been drawn up by the drafting committee.

When Surayud took office last year, he was best known for his
declaration that he would focus on the countrys self-sufficiency more
than focusing on the Gross Domestic Product numbers and that he would
focus on the happiness of the people, more than the GDP.

Asked how the interim government has been performing since the coup, he
said it had been listening to comments and suggestions from all
sectors. I believe in working together with the national legislative
body and political parties even though they are not at full
participation at the moment, said Surayud, who has been credited for
having reforming and professionalising the Thai military.

He believed that the interim government would proceed according to the time-table that had been planned.

As a government, if we can proceed with the planned time-table, I think thats a success, he added.

BERNAMA

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February 25th, 2007 Posted by hicomrade | Uncategorized | No Comments

VDO Clips: Thais in LA protested CNS

February 23, 2007



« 䢤ش: 28-02-2007, 11:12 ǧ » ѹ֡

˹: [1]
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