AFTERMATH

All posts tagged AFTERMATH

No official announcement on Regent pro tempore

Published October 22, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30297728

October 15, 2016 01:00
By THE NATION

Bt1 million payouts to victims of bomb attacks

Published August 26, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Bt1-million-payouts-to-victims-of-bomb-attacks-30293564.html

AFTERMATH

pic

THE government will give Bt1.18 million in compensation to the families of every victim killed by the bomb attacks recently in Hua Hin and six southern provinces.

The bomb and arson attacks rocked the tourist towns between August 10 and August 12.

The violence claimed four lives and wounded 37, including 11 foreigners. One of the foreigners was still in hospital yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that the compensation payouts were on top of what the |victims would get from insurance.

“For injured victims, the compensation amount will vary depending on the severity of their injuries,” he explained.

Wissanu was speaking after he chaired a meeting on remedial actions for the victims.

He said relevant authorities such as the Social Development and Human Security Ministry as well as the Justice Ministry would also provide other forms of assistance, including financial help related to victims’ affected livelihoods.

He said the Tourism and Sports Ministry may reimburse the travel expenses for the victims’ relatives who had to fly to Thailand.

Wissanu said the government would also provide financial help for people whose property was damaged by the attacks.

“We will use an integrated approach in giving help. Provincial governors will gather the compensation and financial help before handing them over to the victims or their families.”

Wissanu said that victims |may also ask for additional |help if their injuries or the impact from the violence gets worse over time.

Ex-Security Council chief links recent attacks to BRN militants

Published August 18, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Ex-Security-Council-chief-links-recent-attacks-to–30293119.html

AFTERMATH

Paradorn

Paradorn

The government should not rule out the possibility of the BRN playing a role in the recent bomb and arson attacks in the South, former National Security Council chief Lt-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr warned yesterday that

Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), or “National Revolutionary Front”, is a Patani independence movement.

“I do not think you can overlook BRN. It has the potential to carry out such coordinated attacks and many factors point to it as the group responsible for the recent attacks,” Paradorn said in an interview.

Paradorn has maintained a low profile after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took control of the country in May 2014. He was transferred to an inactive post before the NCPO coup, paving the way for Thawil Pliensri to be reinstated in accordance with the Administrative Court’s ruling.

The court ruled that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s order to transfer Thawil was illegal.

Paradorn has only emerged from two-year silence after the recent bomb attacks shocked the country.

“I believe the theory that BRN is stepping up and spreading its operations bears more weight than political motives [as suggested by the government],” he said.

He added that he was confident of his theory because of the depth of his involvement in addressing the insurgency in the South. He once led a government delegation to hold peace talks with BRN in 2013.

“I felt something was wrong when Malaysia decided to seal its border before the attacks. The telephone signals used in detonating the bombs had come from Malaysia,” he claimed.

He believes that BRN had launched the attacks in retaliation against the Thai government for failing to proceed with peace talks.

“We must admit that the peace dialogue had come to a standstill since April this year because the government rejected the negotiation frameworks, all proposals from BRN and did not honour the group. This probably made them decide to stage the attacks,” he said.

The timing of the attacks, a few days after the draft charter was accepted in the referendum, could signify that BRN did not approve of the draft charter created by the Meechai Ruchupan-led commission, because they believe the charter will extend the military’s power. He said they probably also believe that this charter will cause the peace talks to fail.

Paradorn added that the bombs used in the attacks required some time for preparation and political groups did not have the ability to do this.

He went on to say that the attacks were possibly a means to pressure the government into holding a peace dialogue. “They could have made it worse with more stronger bombs, but chose only to warn the authorities,” he said.

He also warned that the government to no longer be complacent about the situation in the South.

Hua Hin schools suspend classes amid safety concerns after series of attacks

Published August 18, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Hua-Hin-schools-suspend-classes-amid-safety-concer-30293018.html

AFTERMATH

File Photo

File Photo

MANY SCHOOLS in the Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan province suspended classes |yesterday in the wake of last week’s deadly series of bomb attacks.

The violence claimed two lives and injured more than 20 others, including foreigners, in the otherwise peaceful resort town. Four people were killed in total in attacks across the country.

At least eight schools in Hua Hin yesterday announced temporary closures, citing safety concerns. Teachers were seen in front of school gates advising parents to take their children home.

The police and military presence in Hua Hin has now been increased significantly.

In last week’s spate of violence, arson and bomb attacks were carried out in Prachuap Khiri Khan and six southern provinces including Trang.

A source said yesterday that Colonel Tawatchai Rak-archeep, deputy chief of Internal Security Operations Command’s Trang office, had asked police and the Trang Municipality to ensure all security cameras were working properly. “He also wants more security cameras installed to facilitate the arrests of culprits in such cases,” the source added.

Trang’s Centre Point market has remained closed since a blast last Thursday killed one victim and injured seven others. Tawatchai yesterday convened a meeting with vendors to step up security measures before the market reopens for business.

Centre Point vendors plan to make merit in dedication to the deceased tomorrow and to resume trading on Thursday.

Somkiat Intornkham, chief of Trang’s disaster prevention and mitigation office, yesterday said provincial authorities had declared the blast site and the arson-hit Lee Mart as a disaster zone to pave the way for the delivery of financial compensation to victims.

“Each injured victim will get Bt25,000. The [family of the] deceased victim, given that he was a breadwinner, will receive Bt50,000,” he said.

Somkiat said people whose livelihoods were affected could get financial help of Bt15,000 each.

Thirty-two vendors in Lee Mart, a large wholesale store, have registered for assistance.

In Bangkok, the city administration has been tightening security, particularly in royal compounds, government agencies and tourist zones.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration workers have been instructed to watch out for suspicious items or activities during the course of their work.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said people should also immediately alert authorities if they came across anything suspicious.

Exports face Brexit squeeze

Published August 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Exports-face-Brexit-squeeze-30289269.html

AFTERMATH

A monitor displays news at the Euronext Stock Exchange in Amsterdam, on June 24, 2016 after the result of Britain's in-out referendum on EU membership, as Britain voted to leave the European Union. Disbelief and shock hit financial trading rooms on June

A monitor displays news at the Euronext Stock Exchange in Amsterdam, on June 24, 2016 after the result of Britain’s in-out referendum on EU membership, as Britain voted to leave the European Union. Disbelief and shock hit financial trading rooms on June

British vote creates ‘huge impact’ on global economy that will see a 2%decline in Thai sales.

THAI EXPORTERS and capital markets will likely face a prolonged negative impact from Britain’s vote last week to quit the European Union, local analysts have said.

The Brexit vote saw the pound lose another 3 per cent in value against the dollar yesterday.

Although Thai shipments to the UK are relatively small – worth around 1 per cent of Thai gross domestic product (GDP), Nopporn Thepsithar, chairman of the Thai National Shippers Council, said Brexit had created a huge impact and the global economy could slow down over the second half of this year.

As a result, overall Thai exports could continue to contract in the third and fourth quarters, and cause a drop of more than 2 per cent in exports for the whole year.

“The immediate impacts are on exchange rates, but the global economy likely faces stagnation. Thai exports would also be hit by the global economy and weakening pound sterling and Euro currency,” he said.

So, Nopporn said the Thai government needed to review its international trade policy and take lessons learned for regional groups such as Asean

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, meanwhile, admitted that Brexit would hurt the export sector, which accounts for 70 per cent of Thailand’s GDP.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said the ministry will need to adjust some export promotion plans, while closely monitoring the Brexit process over the next two years.

Surapong Paisitpatanapong, chair of the Federation of Thai Industry’s Automotive Industry Club, said vehicles, especially eco-car exports to the EU, were likely to decrease by about 10 percent this year due to the Brexit. But the longer term effects would depend on the UK’s new trade policy.

Duenden Nikomborilak, research director to the Thailand Development Research Institute, said Brexit could lead to a collapse of the EU, as other member states could follow the UK’s move and conduct a referendum on whether they also want to leave.

The Thai stock market gained 11 points to close at 1,424 yesterday and the outlook that it will move “sideways up”. But Brexit will likely stop the SET index from topping the 1,500 level towards the end of this year, according to Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, president of the Investment Analysts Association (IAA).

Jitiphol Preuksamethanun of Thai Military Bank (TMB) said the baht was likely to weaken against the dollar to trade around 35.20-35.65 while there were capital outflows of Bt784 million and Bt1.66 billion on sales of Thai equities and bonds, respectively, following Brexit.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC), meanwhile, said Thailand may join other Asian economies in easing monetary policy to cushion the impacts from Brexit, but the move might not be immediate. At present, the Thai policy interest rate is set at 1.5 per cent. According to HSBC, weakened economic growth in Asia will prompt policymakers across the region to do more to steady the outlook.

“Still, not everyone has the same room for manoeuvre. Economies where the bias for further easing may have increased include Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, China and Thailand. A little more constrained on the monetary front are India, Indonesia and Malaysia, with currency weakness either risking to stoke price pressures or tighten financial conditions (or both). Fiscally, the latter three, as well as Thailand and Taiwan, are also more constrained than others,” the HSBC note said.

‘One mastermind, two teams’

Published August 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/One-mastermind-two-teams-30292940.html

AFTERMATH

Police say 10-20 people involved in bomb and arson attacks that hit seven provinces.

The bomb and arson attacks in seven provinces last Thursday and Friday were all connected and carried out by a single mastermind, Thai police said yesterday.

Police General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said that authorities were putting together the jigsaw to identify the network behind the attacks that hit Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, plus six southern provinces, including Phuket. He spoke after a teleconference with regional chiefs in affected provinces.

However, he did not identify or elaborate at this stage on the individual mastermind or the motives behind the attacks, which killed four people and injured dozens of Thais and foreigners.

The events are connected, carefully planned and carried out across many areas and masterminded by one individual, Pongsapat said.

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Meanwhile, Thai authorities |have sought help from Malaysian officials to track a mobile phone |used in a bombing in Phuket last Friday, said to have originated in Malaysia.

“The explosion did not destroy a portion of the mobile phone with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s serial number still visible on the phone and Thai investigators have asked for Malaysia’s cooperation to identify the origin of the phone,” a source told Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama.

According to Pongsapat, the network behind the multiple bomb and arson attacks was believed to include 10-20 people and the incidents had no connection with unrest in the Deep South.

Police sources said two separate teams were involved in the attacks late last week, with one responsible for bombs and the other team behind the arson attacks. Their operating route started in Phuket followed by Phang-Nga, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Surat Thani. Songkhla and Phatthalung were not affected because they were off the main targeted route.

Sources said a number of suspects believed to be members of this network were now being interrogated by authorities.

Earlier, a court approved an arrest warrant for Sakharin Karuehas, who was captured on camera, for his alleged role in setting fire to a Tesco Lotus store in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat during the August 11-12 incidents.

Police yesterday searched the business premises of Taweesin Plastic in Surat Thani, that was set on fire during the two-day ram|page. Arthirat Sri-jarassin, owner of Taweesin Plastic, said he had no serious conflicts with other people, while police have detained two suspects for incidents in Surat Thani.

Regarding several small bombs set off in Hua Hin, Pongsapat said authorities had offered a Bt200,000 reward to anyone who provides tips for police, as the suspects are believed to be still in the country.

Meanwhile, an unexploded bomb was recovered near a hotel on Pracha U-tit Road in Phuket’s Patong beach. The explosive was hidden in a cloth bag left unattended at a souvenir shop inside Paradise Plaza, a spot popular with tourists.

Col Winthai Suvaree, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order, said suspects in the incidents would be taken for interrogation and released within seven days if found to have no connection to these incidents.

National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said the bombings may have been carried out by opponents of a military-drafted constitution, which was approved in a referendum last week.

The two main political parties, both of which campaigned against the constitution, have condemned the attacks as reprehensible and called for a speedy investigation.

 

Tourists shrug off threat as Khao San security tightens

Published August 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Tourists-shrug-off-threat-as-Khao-San-security-tig-30292949.html

AFTERMATH

Tourists at Bangkok’s Khao San Road take selfies with a police officer patrolling the entertainment area late on Saturday night.

Tourists at Bangkok’s Khao San Road take selfies with a police officer patrolling the entertainment area late on Saturday night.

Some foreign visitors unaware of southern bombings until called from home countries.

FOREIGN travellers enjoying the nightlife at Bangkok’s Khao San Road gave mixed responses at the weekend to the increased security measures implemented across Thailand in the aftermath of the bombing spree in seven southern provinces.

Some tourists said they had not noticed tightened security measures in Bangkok. Others said they had not heard anything about a series of bombings in an 18-hour period starting late Thursday until their parents called them, asking them to be cautious or to return home immediately.

“[Bangkok] seems so normal that I did not know there was violence. I watched the news [about] the bloody blasts after my parents called me, saying there were bombings and fires here,” said a tourist from Spain who identified himself only as David.

The bombing and arson attacks struck tourist attractions and crowded areas in Phuket, Trang, Hua Hin, Surat Thani, Phang Nga, Krabi and Nakhon Si Thammarat. They occurred on the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday and national Mother’s Day on Friday, leaving four dead and at least 30 injured including foreign tourists.

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Despite the spate of bombs in the South, the famous entertainment street for foreign backpackers – Khao San Road – was still packed with visitors. From 8pm until 3am, the street was crowded with foreign tourists and Thais mingling along the vibrant street lined with carts selling a range of Thai food, including the signature pad Thai noodles with shrimp.

David said he planned to visit the North today and then travel to the South despite the bombings.

He added that he was not worried about the unrest because he had witnessed political turmoil in Thailand before.

Now on his second visit to the Kingdom, David said he was used to the unrest after first visiting in 2006 when a military coup overthrew the elected government of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Despite the coup, he said, he still enjoyed travelling in the country 10 years ago.

David said Thailand had relatively lax security measures compared to Spain, adding that when his country was hit by deadly bombings, authorities turned out in force to secure crowded areas until the situation eased.

Although David did not worry about the situation, his girlfriend, who asked to remain unnamed, said she felt nervous and did not know what to do if more bombings happened during their trip.

“I would not have visited Thailand if I had known about the bombing,” she said.

While the police investigation proceeded, there was much speculation about who the perpetrators were.

Some tourists said they thought the attacks were caused by political motives.

“I think it is political problems,” said a Chinese traveller who asked to be referred to as Max, 26.

She said she believed Thai people were very nice and she was confident in the security situation and still enjoyed the night in Khao San Road despite feeling nervous after hearing the bad news.

Many tourists said they were not worried because they were used to terrorist attacks in their home countries.

An Israeli man on his fourth trip to Thailand, who asked not to be named, said he did not worry about small-scale bombings.

“I come from Israel where deadly bombs have occurred for years. Also, I used to be a soldier and have been in this situation.”

Ella and Tanja from Germany said they were “not really” anxious about the blasts.

“It is already finished. It’s just only one time. We are planning to go to the North. Relaxing. There are lots of police here.”

Jonas, also from Germany, said: “This kind of thing could happen anywhere around the world. I’m pretty sure there is enough security.”

Coming from Europe, he said he was used to terrorism and would “continue a normal life”.

Meanwhile, 20 foreign embassies including Japan’s issued alerts warning their citizens to be vigilant in dangerous circumstances.

A pair of Japanese teenage travellers said they had not heard about the travel advisory and had enjoyed two nights at Khao San.

Pol Maj-General Supapone Arunsit, commander of Immigration Division 1, said police from many stations were supervising the Khao San area.

He said at least 40 plainclothes and uniformed police were stationed on the road. According to a police source, authorities were taking turns guarding the area with military authorities patrolling during daytime and police at night.

Even with the tightened security, vendors said the number of tourists had not decreased.

They said tourists might have been stuck in Bangkok and did not want to travel to other provinces due to worries about the bombings.

 

Charter critics reject referendum result, note ‘suspicious count’

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Charter-critics-reject-referendum-result-note-susp-30292583.html

AFTERMATH

Anti-referendum academics and activists call for Sunday’s referendum vote to be rejected at a public seminar entitled “How to Interpret the Referendum Result” held at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus yesterday. They said they do not accept the vo

Anti-referendum academics and activists call for Sunday’s referendum vote to be rejected at a public seminar entitled “How to Interpret the Referendum Result” held at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus yesterday. They said they do not accept the vo

AN ANTI-REFERENDUM group that boycotted Sunday’s vote yesterday said the results should not be accepted.

The entire referendum process had not been free and fair from the beginning, the Group of Comrades said yesterday.

Speaking at a public seminar titled “How to Interpret the Referendum Result” at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus, Jitra Kothachat, a political activist who announced a boycott of the vote, said the process had been “corrupted” since the 2007 Constitution was revoked.

In the run-up to the vote, free and fair campaigns were not permitted by the state, resulting in very limited knowledge about the charter and the referendum, she said.

“Although efforts were made by the anti-charter groups including the New Democracy Movement [NDM], their voices did not reach the general public. They only echoed inside some universities and on some people’s Facebook news feeds,” Jitra said.

On the other side, the state had the resources to advertise the draft through mechanisms such as local administrative officials, she said.

Sastharam Thammabudsadee, another political scientist from Thammasat, said the referendum was unfair because it forced people to choose between two poor choices – and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) staying in power either way.

The academic said he rejected the result on those grounds and encouraged other groups including the NDM to do the same.

Sastharam said it should not have been called a “referendum” in the first place because people from different factions had not been allowed to exchange views and the public had not been sufficiently informed.

However, Sastharam said people should not be discouraged or disheartened by the result and urged them to continue the fight against what they viewed as an undemocratic regime.

“Although the charter passed the vote, we can still criticise it if it does not foster a more democratic regime,” he said.

Big parties such as Pheu Thai had not done enough in calling for a free and fair process and therefore could not be relied upon, he said.

Sastharam said one solution could be that political activists form their own parties to promote their own agendas.

Political activist Rakchart Wongatichart, who is associated with the NDM, said the referendum’s transparency was questionable, pointing out that international observers had not been given a chance to properly monitor the process.

He added that a video clip showing polling staff counting ballots in a suspicious manner has been circulated. A staff member reportedly did not announce ballot results out loud and turned his back to observers at the front of the polling station, Rakchart said.

“And that is just one case. We do not know how many there are that we might not know of,” the activist said.

Prayut voices ‘contempt’ for vote critics

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Prayut-voices-contempt-for-vote-critics-30292486.html

AFTERMATH

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha waves as he leaves from the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, 08 August 2016. Thailand held a referendum on a controversial military backed draft constitution on 07 August, the first polling in the country

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha waves as he leaves from the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, 08 August 2016. Thailand held a referendum on a controversial military backed draft constitution on 07 August, the first polling in the country

PRIME MINISTER Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has denounced international criticism of the junta’s restrictions in the run-up to the referendum vote.

“It’s disappointing … that there has been some inappropriate intervention by foreign elements during the delicate time in our political transition,” Prayut said, being quoted by Government Deputy Spokesperson Maj-Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

“All these interferences have inevitably led us to have contempt for the sentiments of those who claim to be ‘friends’ of Thailand,” Prayut continued. “This malicious intent has resonated loud and clear in the hearts and minds of the people who have spoken with resolve at the referendum today [Sunday].”

Prayut‘s statement followed the junta’s success in winning approval for the controversial charter draft, receiving about 61 per cent of approved votes nationwide. An additional question, asking whether MPs and the junta-selected Senate should be allowed to select a prime minister, also gained an approval rate of 58 per cent.

But the junta paid the price for success as Thailand’s image in the international community worsened regarding its failure to follow a democratic approach and respect the rights of people, especially in the days before the vote when political expression was strictly limited by the junta, critics said.

Several foreign entities, both governmental and independent, urged Prayut‘s government to abide by internationally accepted rights.

Prior to the vote, the US Embassy urged the Thai government to open public spaces. The embassy also unofficially observed Sunday’s vote in 13 provinces, which drew criticism from the Election Commission, which said it had not been notified in advance.

However, the embassy’s spokesperson, Melissa Sweeney, showed The Nation a copy of a letter, signed by its political counsellor Keith M Anderton and dated July 29, informing the EC secretary-general of their planned observation with notes that the EC would not be interrupted.

Sweeney said the embassy’s personnel, deployed in 13 provinces, found that the voting process went peacefully with polling staff appearing to be helpful and eager to assist voters.

International watchdogs, including the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel) and The Asia Foundation, also observed Sunday’s vote unofficially.

Pongsak Chan-on, Anfrel’s project coordinator, said the voting procedure was peaceful and decently managed without traces of fraud. There were some minor technical errors which should not significantly affect the outcome, Pongsak said.

But Anfrel was worried by the presence of armed security officials close to some voting booths. He said only a few people were eager to monitor vote counting at the booths. “This contributed to a lack of free discussion space prior to the voting day that could encourage public participation in voting procedures,” he said.

Anfrel had about 15 foreign and local staff watching polling stations in Bangkok and six nearby provinces.

Kim McQuay, of the Asia Foundation, said the foundation deployed 10 staff to informally observe the polling process in and around Bangkok.

While voters were satisfied with the vote’s administration, Kim said many of them said the additional question was complicated and there was concern that some voters did not understand the broader substance of the charter draft.

Vote win is ‘no mandate’

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Vote-win-is-no-mandate-30292492.html

AFTERMATH

pic

Junta warned as it appears stronger after referendum; questions loom over turnout.

POLITICAL ANALYSTS have warned the post-coup government against regarding the strong “yes” vote in Sunday’s referendum as a mandate.

But the majority support for the draft constitution, and to have junta-appointed senators participate in the selection of future prime ministers, undeniably indicates widespread acceptance of the political roles of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the military-installed regime and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), observers said.

Analysts said the result pointed to the popularity of the powers-that-be, which should help to boost their confidence in running the country.

Authorities could cite the vote results favouring the charter to claim legitimacy, observers said, adding that a desire to see greater political stability drove the majority “Yes” vote.

Official results of the referendum vote were still unavailable yesterday but the Election Commission had counted 94 per cent of ballots cast and is expected to announce the official results by tomorrow. The initial turnout was projected at 58 per cent of eligible voters.

As many as 15.5 million, or 61.4 per cent of voters who cast their ballots, approved the draft charter, compared with 9.7 million, or 38.6 per cent, who voted against it, according to unofficial results.

Most voters, 58.1 per cent, also chose to empower appointed senators to join elected MPs in selecting prime ministers during the first five years after the new Parliament convenes under the new constitution. An estimated 41.9 per cent of voters disapproved of that stipulation.

In the previous 2007 referendum, 57.8 per cent of voters approved that draft constitution, compared with 42.2 per cent who voted against it.

The referendum result will legitimise the junta’s bid to extend its hold on power based on this constitution, Sunai Phasuk, Thailand researcher at Human Rights Watch, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“It will embolden junta leader Prayut to think he has millions of Thais behind him and it will extend military control,” he said.

Akanat Promphan, a spokesman for the People’s Democratic Reform Foundation, said yesterday that he believed many voters were swayed by Prayut‘s announcement a couple of days before the referendum that he would vote for the charter and the additional question on Senate power.

“The vote result reflected General Prayut‘s popularity. Most people want reforms outlined in the draft constitution, in the hope that corruption will be suppressed,” he said.

Satitorn Tananitichote, an analyst from King Prajadhipok’s Institute, said that despite support provided by 15.5 million voters, there were still 35 million eligible voters who either |voted against both referendum |questions or did not turn out to vote.

“Given the result, it is obvious that 10 million [who voted ‘no’] are not with the NCPO. But the true majority is the 25 million others who abstained. These are not supporters [of the regime] and even the opposition demonstrated their defiance by not participating in the vote,” Satitorn said.

He said the 61 per cent who voted “yes” in Sunday’s referendum did not form “a true majority” when compared with the 50 million eligible voters.

“When writing organic laws and the national strategy, the NCPO should listen not only to the 15 million voters. That would just lead it in the wrong way. Rather, it has to be more inclusive,” the scholar said.

Weaker rejection than in 2007

Attachak Sattayanurak, a history professor at Chiang Mai University, said the vote to reject the charter in the North was weaker than in 2007, although rejection votes still outnumbered approval votes.

He said most people wanted an election, so they voted to accept the draft constitution. Additionally, the draft’s opponents failed to convince voters that there would be an election if the draft were rejected, Attachak said.

Other people who voted for the charter in Chiang Main included political independents and people who based their personal judgements based on “what’s right and wrong”, he said.

Suriyasai Katasila, a political analyst from Rangsit University, said that by accepting the charter by a greater margin than in 2007, people showed they wanted the country to move forward. But regarding the additional question paving the way for the Senate’s role in selecting a prime minister, he said the 41-per-cent rejection figure could mean people are concerned about the military’s role in politics.

The charter draft stipulates that the Senate will be selected by the NCPO.

Suriyasai also said the vote results demonstrated a crisis of faith in the two major political parties, which both rejected the draft. He said the parties should seriously consider reforms and improving themselves.

Two former prime ministers who had spoken publicly against the draft charter said yesterday they respected the decision by the majority of voters.

“I accept the decision of the people,” Yingluck Shinawatra said in a social-media post. “But I am saddened by the fact that our country is going backwards to an undemocratic constitution.”

It was Yingluck’s first public reaction to Sunday’s vote.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he accepted the people’s decision in the referendum but that he would not change his stance against the charter.

Abhisit, also a former prime minister, said he believed that those who voted “yes” wanted the country to move forward with reforms and anti-corruption measures as well as to leave political conflicts behind.

He said the Democrats would have to take people’s wishes into account to adjust the policies of the party.

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