Scepticism rules over February poll date

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Prayut casts vote in 2016 constitution draft referendum
Prayut casts vote in 2016 constitution draft referendum

politics March 01, 2018 01:00

By PRAWIT DENIES ANY FUTURE DELAY BUT EC VACANCIES, ORGANIC LAWS RAISE DOUBTS

WASAMON AUDJARINT, WICHIT CHAITRONG, KHANITTHA THEPPAJORN THE NATION

UNCERTAIN THAT Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s promise of an election by February of next year will be kept, critics said yesterday they remained hopeful it would be the last delay for the frequently postponed poll.

Prayut’s assurance on Tuesday was the fourth such promise since his government came to power in 2014.

His deputy and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, meanwhile, held firm that there would not be further delays.

 “Authorities will take care of the situation. The election will certainly come. I don’t see why they [activists] would have to hold assemblies to call for an election,” Prawit said yesterday.

Anon Nampa, a key activist in the Democracy Restoration Group, said Prayut’s promise would not stop the group from demanding an election this year, as they had lost faith in him.

“We won’t take Prayut’s words seriously. It’s still unclear if an election will be held. For us, it will be clear only when the election date is announced in a royal decree,” he said.

Key Pheu Thai Party member Phongthep Thepkanjana was also not convinced yesterday by the premier’s promise, saying he would adhere only to the timeline stipulated in the Constitution.

While current legal mechanisms allow an election between September and next February, Phongthep said he believed an election should be organised this year so relevant procedures could be finished by February.

“The key is that the National Council for Peace and Order should not try to overpower or obstruct the charter’s stipulations,” he said.

Democrat Party deputy leader Ong-art Klampaiboon was also cautious about Prayut’s most recent promise.

“If Prayut is determined to hold an election, it should be his last promise. The junta-appointed bodies should also manage to strictly follow this latest road map,” he said. “Our party is ready to go by this road map to election.”

Chulalongkorn University political lecturer Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee said she believed there was still not a guarantee about the road map as long as the remaining organic law drafts remained unfinished and the new election commissioners had not been selected.

“Judging from the circumstances of Prayut’s previous promises, this promise could be made to lessen political pressure rather than to seriously set a date for an election,” she said.

Stanley Kang, chairman of the Foreign Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand, said he was not surprised the general election could not take place this year.

“It is in line with our previous expectations that an election would be held in the first quarter next year,” Kang said.

He added that the foreign investor community still believed that a general election would happen after the organic laws passed the National Legislative Assembly.

“What we are concerned about is the slow pace of deregulation, government efficiency, the slow implementation of e-government and red tape for work-permit procedures,” he said.

The European Union, which has resumed political contacts with Thailand partly because of Prayut’s earlier promise of an election this November, reiterated the importance attached to the premier’s earlier stance.

“The EU position was expressed by the foreign ministers of all EU member states at their meeting in December 2017. Together, they reaffirmed the importance the EU attaches to relations with Thailand and welcomed the October 2017 statement by the prime minister on election timelines,” reads a statement from the EU delegation to Thailand.

“They [EU foreign ministers] also reiterated that the EU will continue to follow the situation in Thailand closely as a basis for our policy, with particular emphasis on the lifting of restrictions on political activities and freedom of assembly, the holding of credible and inclusive elections, and the installation of a democratically elected civilian government,” it added.

The United States Embassy in Bangkok yesterday also reiterated that it looked forward to Thailand’s return to a democratic government via free and fair elections as soon as possible.

 

Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Teacher, vendor arrested over Bt30m lottery dispute

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Teacher Preecha Kraikruan is brought to the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok yesterday as legal proceedings against him officially began and his key witness, Rattanaporn Supatip, was also in police custody.
Teacher Preecha Kraikruan is brought to the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok yesterday as legal proceedings against him officially began and his key witness, Rattanaporn Supatip, was also in police custody.

national March 01, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

THE ARRESTS of a teacher and his key witness in their high-profile row with a retired policeman over lottery winnings worth Bt30 million appear to settle the question of ownership regarding the disputed tickets.

Teacher Preecha Kraikruan was arrested at his school yesterday as lottery vendor Rattanaporn Supatip was apprehended at her home in Kanchanaburi province.

Preecha Kraikruan

Rattanaporn Supatip

They face charges of filing a false complaint with police, giving false information to officials and framing another person in a criminal case.

Last November, Preecha lodged a complaint of theft and receiving ill-gotten gains against Pol Lieutenant Charoon Wimul, accusing him of taking possession of lottery tickets the teacher claimed he had bought from Rattanaporn.

Preecha has publicly portrayed himself as a victim for months, producing Rattanaporn and several other people as witnesses. He claimed he had bought the lottery tickets but accidentally dropped them and Charoon probably found and took them illegitimately.

However, Charoon has consistently denied Preecha’s claims. Earlier this month, he submitted a petition in Bangkok to national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda asking for help.

He and his lawyer, Sittra Biabangkerd, expressed concern that local police were taking the teacher’s side.

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has since taken over the investigation from local police.

Last week, three local policemen were transferred, reportedly for questionable handling of the high-profile case.

Chakthip, CIB chief Lt-General Thitiraj Nhongharnpitak and several senior police officers yesterday held a press conference revealing investigation results.

“At this point, we have found evidence against two suspects [Preecha and Rattanaporn]. Our investigation will expand further to determine who else was involved,” Chakthip said.

He added that in a much similar case, the Office of Attorney-General had ruled the tickets belonged to the person who had them in their possession.

“In the event buyers lose their lottery tickets, they must lodge a complaint with police immediately – not after the numbers are already announced as winning,” Chakthip said.

He added that a Supreme Court ruling from 1987 also stated clearly that lottery prizes would be awarded to people who produced the winning tickets.

“The Government Lottery Office has also printed on the back of all lottery tickets that prizes will be awarded only to people producing the tickets,” Chakthip said.

Charoon would have to prove his ownership in civil proceedings in a separate civil case filed by Preecha, he added.

Speaking at the same press conference, Thitiraj said Charoon had been very reserved in speaking to investigators.

“As for Preecha’s side, our careful probe has already found that statements by his witnesses contradicted scientific evidence that CIB police gathered during their investigation,” Thitiraj said.

Following their arrests, Preecha and Rattanaporn were brought from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok. They will remain in custody at least until tomorrow, as police have objected to their release on bail. Police also plan to seek court permission to further detain the suspects.

Rattanaporn said yesterday she told the truth and was not worried about the current developments in the case.

Preecha refused to speak to the media when he was brought to Bangkok.

 

Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Premchai faces charge for possessing African elephant tusks

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national March 01, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

Embattled construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, who is facing nine poaching-related charges, could face an additional charge after DNA tests on two pairs of elephant tusks seized from his Bangkok residence were found to be from African elephants.

A source said possession of the tusks violated the wildlife reservation and protection Act and carries a maximum of four years in jail or a fine of Bt40,000 or both.

Police will soon file the charges against Premchai, president of Italian-Thai Development company, who was arrested earlier this month with three companions in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province. Police found remains of protected animals and hunting rifles at his campsite.

The same source said that the two tusks were taken for registration to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants department by his wife Kanitha Wittayanun. The department had provided a grace period for registration for those who had such tusks and warned those who failed to register would face prosecution and seizure of the tusks.

Kanitha allegedly registered the tusks as from domestic elephants. Police will seek a meeting with her concerning the registration.

Premchai’s campsite in the World Heritage Site was situated in a banned area. He has denied all the charges and is out on bail.

The public was outraged after police found butchered remains of a black leopard and its tail in a soup pot at the campsite and have called for maximum penalties for billionaire businessman Premchai.

There have been widespread concerns that Premchai may evade prosecution as he is connected to powerful figures.

One of his associates had sought permission from a wildlife department chief for Premchai to enter the wildlife sanctuary, claiming he was a nature lover. However the campsite was not in the site allowed and protected animals were killed.

Sompote Maneerat, spokesman of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Department, yesterday said that an investigation had cleared two senior officials, Kanchana Nittaya and Wichien Chinnawong, of involvement in Premchai’s alleged poaching activities.

Both were found to have only done their duty when they granted permission for the tycoon to enter the wildlife sanctuary.

“They are not involved in the alleged poaching,” he said.

 

Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Central Bank of Iraq Auctions $184,067,625 on 28 February 2018

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Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) currency auction on February 28 registered $184,067,625 in sales, a -3.08% volume decline from the US $189,921,893 sold by Iraqi Dinar, credit and transfer at the previous auction held on February 27.

The latest auction was attended by 45 banks and 9 remittance companies. The same institutions attended the auction held on February 28 compared to the previous auction.

Data for the February 28 auction was made public by CBI Announcement Number 3645.

Dollar sales in the in the period January 1, 2018 to February 28, 2018 saw an increase of -1% compared to the sales of US $6.1 billion in the same period in 2017. The total amount of US currency sold by CBI in the calendar year 2017 was US $15.7 billion.

An analysis of the monthly dollar sales by CBI since January 2016 reveals highly fluctuating volumes. During the period from January 2016 to February 2018, sales of US dollars averaged US $1.89 billion per month. Peak volumes were reached in May this year when sales touched US $2.3 billion.

YEAR MONTH US DOLLAR SALES IN BILLIONS INCREASE/(DECREASE) COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS MONTH
2017 January 2.2
2017 February 2 -9%
2017 March 2.1 5%
2017 April 1.8 -14%
2017 May 2.3 28%
2017 June 0.6 -74%
2017 July 2.2 267%
2017 August 2.1 -5%
2017 September 1 -52%
2017 October 2.2 120%
2017 November 1.9 -14%
2017 December 1.9 0%
2018 January 2.2 16%
2018 February 1.9 -14%

Source :  Iraqi News

For 1st time in almost 30 years, Basra hosts intl’l friendly match between Iraq, Saudi Arabia

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Basra (Iraqinews.com) – The Saudi national football team arrived Wednesday in Basra city, where it is scheduled to play a friendly game against Iraq in a move that aims at persuading FIFA to lift a ban on international matches being played in Iraqi cities.

According to Alghad Press correspondent, the Saudi team “touched down at the Basra International Airport today afternoon, then it headed for a hotel, where it will stay for a few hours before playing the match night.”

The friendly encounter between the Iraqi and Saudi national teams is part of Baghdad’s bids to have a ban imposed by FIFA lifted on international matches being played on Iraqi pitches.

No international football matches were played in Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which triggered an international embargo.

The ban was briefly lifted in 2012 but it was reinstated again by FIFA following a power outage during a match against Jordan in Erbil.

But after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory against the Islamic State group in December, Fifa allowed friendly international matches to take place in Basra and Karbala.

Saudi Arabia, by playing the match, seeks to increase diplomatic and economic ties with Iraq in order to counter Iran’s influence in the country.

A social media campaign dubbed “Greens, it’s your homeland” – in reference to the Saudi team – was launched among Twitter users in Basra to welcome Saudi Arabia’s footballers.

 

Source :  Iraqi News

Mass grave of Islamic State members found, northwest of Mosul

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Mosul (IraqiNews.com) A mass grave of Islamic State members, who were killed by other members, was found in northwest of Mosul, while the militant group was in control of the city, an officer from the Iraqi army said on Wednesday.

“Troops of the Iraqi army ran into a mass grave in al-Zarka region in Baaj town including 100 human corpses of local and Arab Islamic State members,” Col. Ali al-Taan told BasNews.

“The corpses were shot in the heads and chests,” Taan said without giving further details.

Thousands of IS militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition, was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi declared in July victory over IS militants who had held the second largest Iraqi city since 2014. More than 25,000 Islamic State militants were killed throughout the campaign. Abadi announced, in December, full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members.

Violence in the country has surged further with the emergence of Islamic State Sunni extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.

Security troops ran into tens of mass graves at regions recaptured from IS. More than 70 graves, including Yazidis killed by IS, were also found.

 

Source :  Iraqi News

Artists depict happiness with UAE’s longest painting

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Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on February 28, 2018

The artists created a 60-metre long roll that included several paintings done simultaneously, in just three hours

Over 100 artists from about 60 countries gathered here in Dubai, for the UAE’s first and largest event dedicated to watercolour painting, called ‘Happiness in Watercolour’.

The four-day festival also saw artists create the longest watercolour painting ever done in the UAE. Using six rolls of canvas paper – 10 metres each – these artists (included locals as well as visitors) created a 60-metre long painting roll that included several paintings done by these artists simultaneously, in just three hours.

The event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qasimi, and was organised by the International Watercolour Society (IWS) UAE at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai. The painting will be sold to raise funds for charity, at a separate event to be hosted by IWS.

Al Qasimi said: “We are very happy to host the international watercolour festival, that has been going on for more than 10 or 15 years. It is truly a global event in a truly global city like Dubai, where we managed to welcome guests such as the Turkish, Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian ambassadors.”

Talking about the purpose of the event, amateur artist Dr Yaser Habrawi, who is also an opthalmologist at Al Zahra Hospital, Dubai, said: “The festival aimed to promote happiness and unity through art in line with the theme of the festival – happiness. It was a beautiful experience to see an array of artists covering different subjects in one painting.

“The world record for the longest such painting is over 60m. Although we didn’t break the world record, we managed to create a record within the UAE for the longest watercolour painting. This was not a competition, but a festival celebrating happiness and watercolours.”

An excited visitor at the hospital, Sunil P, said: “I was delighted to see the most mesmerising watercolour event here in Dubai. It is a novel concept to see a painting exhibition and workshops held in a hospital.”

The first part of the event was held on the premises of Al Zahra Hospital (in the auditorium and outdoors) and some of the activities were held at the Cartoon Art Gallery in Al Qouz.

The festival featured painting workshops, free live demonstrations, and plain air painting sessions (outdoor painting) at various locations in the UAE, conducted by well-known contemporary watercolourists, including Alvaro Castagnet.

The festival also saw an exhibition of over 300 paintings by artists from across the globe based on the themes of happiness and the UAE’s different facets.

saman@khaleejtimes.com

 

Source :  The Khaleej Times

Dubai’s Emirates offers ‘free’ baggage allowance on India, Pakistan flights

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Web Report/Dubai
Filed on February 28, 2018 | Last updated on February 28, 2018 at 06.52 am

The promotion allows for an up to 20 extra kilos of checked baggage allowance to select destinations.

While you plan to travel, the one thing that weighs on your mind is: how much baggage will you be able to carry? You want to ensure that you have all the necessary stuff for your trip. In case you’re heading home, you need more baggage allowance – all the more – since you have to fit not only your things but also those presents that you buy for your family and friends. And sometimes, 30kg is too less.

But, don’t worry. Here’s good news for you, if you are bound for home in India, Pakistan or the Philippines from Dubai.

Dubai’s flag carrier Emirates is giving free baggage allowance to select destinations when you fly from the emirate to any of the countries under the promotion. The promotion allows for an up to 20 extra kilos of checked baggage allowance to select destinations.

Their website lists destinations where passengers can get extra checked baggage allowance. Some of the destinations include Indian cities such as Kochi, Chennai, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram; the Pakistan cities of Karachi, Multan and Sialkot; and Philippines’ Manila, Cebu and Clark. Passengers flying to these cities get an extra 10kg baggage allowance.

Those flying to Manila from Dubai get an extra 15kg for a total of 45kg baggage allowance.

On a certain day, travellers can get up to 50kg total baggage. Passengers flying to Colombo, Sri Lanka can fly with up to 50kg total checked baggage every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from February 1 until March 31.

 

Source :  The Khaleej Times

No increase in UAE federal fees for next three years

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Team KT
Filed on February 28, 2018 | Last updated on February 28, 2018 at 11.24 pm

The decision aims at improving economic and social stability of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed said.

Public services fees in the UAE will not be increased for a period of three years, the UAE Vice-President announced on Wednesday.

“We decided not to increase the federal fees during the next three years to restore the economic and social stability of the state and to support our industrial and commercial sectors and attract more foreign investments,” said His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

He made these comments as he chaired the UAE Cabinet meeting. He stressed that the UAE prioritises the socio-economic stability of citizens and residents. “UAE competitiveness is the main priority for the government, and the next term will witness the launch of many new social development initiatives, and other initiatives for the UAE youth to make them directly benefit from our journey of development,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

The UAE Vice-President also approved a new “national strategy for advanced innovation, which aims at improving the governmental future designs”. It would create new economic fields “that focus on human welfare”.

The strategy would focus on innovation in the health, transportation, future techniques, water, environment and space technology development sectors, Sheikh Mohammed said. “Our goal is to change the mindset of the government and private sectors towards devising solutions for the future,” he added.

reporters@khaleejtimes.com

Other decisions

A new railway regulation bill to pave the way for a railway network to transport passengers across the emirates

A decision to issue multilateral entry visas for six months for ship crews and sailors to boost maritime tourism

A system to monitor the quality of spare parts for imported vehicles

A decision for combating human trafficking

 

Source :  The Khaleej Times