‘Impossible goals’ set for parties to organise

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politics March 29, 2018 01:00




A JUNTA order setting the schedule for political parties in preparation for the upcoming election could be a problem rather than a solution, as political parties yesterday voiced concerns over difficulties and confusion related to their activities.

Parties stated in unison that the order should be amended or nullified to allow the completion of necessary activities before the poll.

While the Election Commission (EC) yesterday organised a seminar briefing parties about the changes involved in the order and new laws, the agency was unable to fully clarify the junta directive.

“The EC will try to help sort out the issues that drew complaints. But if it is about the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO], we can only pass issues on to the authorities to help find answers,” said EC president Supachai Somcharoen yesterday.

Government officials had talked with him about amending the order and loosening the restrictions, he said, but added that at present the order remained unchanged.

Junta order 53/2560 was issued in December to reschedule the timetable laid out by the organic law governing political parties, while maintaining the prevailing ban on political activities.

The law requires parties to make arrangements, such as updating membership rosters and collecting membership fees, within a deadline initiated at the law’s promulgation in October. But politicians have been unable to fulfil the requirements because of the junta ban on most political activities.

According to the order, existing political parties can start administrative work this Sunday, but confusion remains about the membership status and collection of fees, which they have to do within 30 days. Unless members confirm their membership with the party during that period, they could lose their status.

Abhisit Vejjajiva

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat Party leader, said yesterday he wanted clarification if members would lose their memberships if they failed to pay party fees within 30 days.

The junta order needed amendment, he said, as some points were impossible to achieve in practice. Among them was the order to set up regional branches, while parties were not allowed to convene or make any agreements, he said.

Phumtham Wechayachai, acting secretary-general of Pheu Thai Party, said yesterday the NCPO should revoke the political ban, otherwise parties would not be able to act.

“Facilitate the people as much as possible. Rescind the order and allow parties to perform their activities. This is the key solution to every problem,” the politician said.

Phumtham also said the confirmation of membership roles by the end of April would be problematic because more than 10 days would be lost to the Songkran public holiday, while there were other unclear rules and regulations.

“This is like all parties are being reset. If members don’t confirm their memberships, they are no longer members,” Phumtham said. “We are sure to lose a number of members. Such as the Demo-crats, they have millions of members. How can they call all of them in 30 days?”

Phumtham Wechayachai (center)

Warawut Silpa-archa, leader of Chart Thai Patana, also complained about the limited time and the public holiday, adding he expected to lose members.

“Not only do they [members] have to send documents to confirm their status, but they also have to pay a fee,” he said. “If there are any errors in the process, the punishment could be as harsh as dissolving the party. We think a smaller number is acceptable. We want to make sure the documents and everything else are correct.”

Meanwhile, the names of 25 to 30 members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) were also collected yesterday as part of a proposed petition for the Constitutional Court to reconsider whether the bill draft on the election of MPs violates the charter.

If the court accepts the request, it could take up to two months to consider the issue, which would also mean that more time would be consumed in the legislative process, which could delay the election period even further.

The list would be handed to the NLA president today before being forwarded to the court next Monday.

Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Court dismisses fraud case over bogus GT200 bomb detectors

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File photo

national March 29, 2018 01:00



DON MUANG Municipal Court yesterday dismissed charges in a fraud trial filed by the Armed Forces Security Centre against Jackson Electronics (Thailand), which supplied eight faulty bomb-detecting devices known as GT200, worth Bt10.4 million, to the centre in 2007.

After the procurement, the bomb-detecting devices manufactured by a UK firm failed to detect explosives as advertised.

But the supplier was not held responsible – based on a lack of evidence that the firm’s executives knew the products and information in the catalogues were faulty.

The Security Centre under the Royal Thai Armed Forces filed the case against the company, which has an office in Bang Na district, after the equipment was tested by the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and found to be faulty.

The NSTDA reported that the GT200s were composed of two pieces of plastic, and wholly lacking in electronic circuits to receive signals, as advertised in a catalogue distributed to potential customers.

The supposed sensors were made of four pieces of black paper, without any circuitry, the report concluded.

In the catalogue, the device is shown to have a swivel antenna that does not require a battery or other power source, because it is purportedly powered by the human user’s static electricity.

The advertisement also claimed the GT200 detector could detect ammunition, explosives, drugs, gold, ivory, currency and tobacco, even if the items were buried.

The Security Centre filed fraud charges against the firm, which is managed by a Taiwanese national, for alleged false advertising concerning the specifications of the devices.

The plaintiff told the court that the Taiwanese executive had demonstrated how to use the devices and distributed catalogues to the military officials before the Security Centre purchased the eight detectors for Bt1.3 million each.

The firm won a bidding process to provide the bomb detectors to the Security Centre by demonstrating the equipment to a six-member procurement committee, the court heard.

However, the ruling dismissed charges on the grounds that the evidence did not show that Jackson Electronics had been aware of the false information in the catalogues, as the company was a middleman for the UK company Compact that provided the equipment and catalogues.

The defendant’s distribution of the catalogues during the demonstration did not prove the executive knew the information was false, the ruling stated.

According to Komsan Srivanich, Jackson Electronics’ lawyer, who was present at the court, a similar trial in the UK against Compact, a UK firm supplying the bomb detectors, was also dismissed on similar grounds.

The court ruled that the plaintiff could file a separate case in civil court.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Six men sentenced to death over Krabi execution-style killings

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national March 29, 2018 01:00



THE Krabi Provincial Court yesterday handed down the death penalty to six men for the shocking massacre of a village head and seven of his family members, including three children.


The brutal killings occurred at the victims’ home in Krabi province last July. Three people survived the execution-style attack.

National police commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda came to the courtroom to listen to the verdict in the high-profile case.

The public was shocked last year to learn that Worayuth Sunglung, a village headman in Ao Luek district, had been shot in the head along with relatives after being held hostage for hours.

 Shortly after the killings, police arrested eight suspects including Surifath Bannopwongsakul, also known as “Bang Fath”. All of the suspects were prosecuteded.

Surifath reportedly had a dispute with Worayuth after he failed to return land-title deeds to the latter. Worayuth had initially submitted the deeds as collateral for a loan, but after Worayuth repaid his debts, Surifath did not return the documents.

Both men had threatened each other over the issue several times before the massacre occurred.

Krabi Provincial Court yesterday convicted Surifath and five other defendants of the massacre, with all of them sentenced to death. Two other defendants, one of them a woman, received jail terms for more minor roles in the crime.

Tawatchai Boonkong was convicted just of intrusion into a private property and stealing valuables of the deceased. He received a 19-month jail term.

Chalita Sangkhachart, the only female defendant in the case, was sentenced to 12 months in jail for hiding the valuables stolen from Vorayuth’s wife, who died in the massacre.

Six defendants convicted of the killings were also ordered to pay Bt60,000 in compensation each year, for a certain period of time, to eight plaintiffs.

Anchalee Prikdam, who survived the massacre, said she was satisfied with the verdict.

Worayuth’s father-in-law, Jaree Butrterb, said he would consult with relatives before deciding whether to appeal or to file civil lawsuits against the convicts for financial compensation.

Kriangsak Saraphi, a lawyer for the defendants, said his clients were upset.

“We will definitely file an appeal,” he said.

While capital sentences are not infrequent in Thailand, the last execution was more than 10 years ago.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Barzani: Kurdistan soil won’t be used to attack neighbors

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Erbil (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Kurdistan Region will not allow its soil to be used for attacking neighbors, the region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, said in a press conference on Wednesday as Turkey eyes offensives against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

“Prior to asking why Turkey has come inside Kurdistan Region, we have to ask what is the reason? The reason is PKK,” Kurdish network Rudaw quoted Barzani Saying, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party, the group that has engaged in decades of armed confrontations against Turkey.

“The KRG’s principle is that the soil of Kurdistan Region should not be used to attack neighbouring countries, such as Iran, Turkey, Syria and elsewhere,” Barzani added.

Kurdish authorities have recently called upon PKK fighters to keep their deployments away from civilian areas in the region as Turkey continues to carry out airstrikes against the group’s members there.

PKK recently announced it was pulling out from Iraq’s northern region of Sinjar, having become assured that Islamic State extremists were no longer a threat to the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi minority there.

PKK has been active in Sinjar since 2014, when Islamic State militants proclaimed a self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Turkey brands PKK fighters as terrorists, and has launched regular airstrikes on their locations in northern Iraq. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recently that Turkey was planning to launch an offensive against the group in Sinjar, a step which Iraqi officials rejected officially.


Source :  Iraqi News

Two people injured in bomb blast, four others arrested in operation in Anbar

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Anbar (IraqiNews.com)Two civilians were wounded as a bomb exploded under the rubble of one of the houses, in central Ramadi, west Anbar, a security source from Anbar police was quoted saying on Wednesday.

Speaking to BasNews, the source said, “a bomb from the remnants of IS went off while a family was trying to lift the debris of their destroyed house in al-Andalus district, central Ramadi, which two people injured.”

Moreover, the source said four people were arrested, while huge amounts of weapons were seized in security operation.

“Security forces carried out a wide-scale operation in al-Karma and al-Saqlawiya regions, leaving four people involved in terrorist operations and amounts of weapons confiscated,” the source added.

Abadi announced in December full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members. However, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country.

Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary troops, have been fighting to retake territories Islamic State had occupied since 2016.

A total of 91 Iraqi civilians were killed and 208 others were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in February, according to the monthly report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate, with 195 civilian casualties (49 killed, 146 injured). Anbar Governorate ranked second place, with 14 killed and 37 injured, and Diyala had 12 killed and 11 injured.


Source :  Iraq News

German flights to and from Erbil, Sulaimaniyah airports to resume in April

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Erbil (IraqiNews.com) The German airlines Fly Germania has announced resuming flights to each of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah international airports in Kurdistan, starting April 5th.
According to the company’s website, Fly Germania will operate its direct flights between Europe and Kurdistan starting April 5th.

A senior source from the Egyptian airlines had said EgyptAir will resume flights to and from Erbil airport by mid-April, adding that three flights will be operated weekly as a first phase.

This came after the Lebanese Middle East Airlines announced on March 20 that flights will be resumed on April 3rd with four flights weekly. Jordan, also, said flights will resume in April.

A Turkish flight arrived landed on Monday at Erbil airport announcing flight resumption after the ban was removed.

On March 13, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announcing removing ban on flights that has imposed on Kurdistan Region since the September poll in which the autonomous region voted for independence from the central government, a step which was deemed as illegal by Baghdad.

Since Baghdad ordered an international flights embargo, six months ago, it urged Kurdish authorities to hand over management of the two airports to the federal government.

Abadi previously approved to partially lift the embargo to facilitate the movement of Muslim pilgrims from and to the region.


Source : Iraqi News

61.6 tonnes of drugs seized in UAE last year

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Filed on March 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 28, 2018 at 06.34 pm

A senior official said 94 per cent of the seizures were the result of efforts of the police in the Ministry of the Interior.

UAE’s drug control agencies seized around 61.6 tonnes of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in 2017, said a senior official on Wednesday.

Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chief of Police and Public Security in Dubai and Chairman of the Anti-Narcotics Council, said that 94 per cent of the seizures were the result of efforts of the police in the Ministry of the Interior.

He stressed that the police and anti-narcotics agencies in the country have exerted great efforts in the arrest of the accused and also in addressing the problem.

He was talking during a coordination meeting held at the Dubai Police Officers’ Club between the National Anti-Narcotics Council and members of Higher National Committees, in the presence of Major-General Abdullah Mohammed Al Niyadi, director-general of the Marine and Coastal Facilities Protection Authority.

The meeting reviewed the results of the performance indicators of the plan for the National Strategy for Drug Control of 2017, which were achieved by the various partners. The indicators and targets for the current year were discussed and briefed the audience on the statistics of drug seizures, their weights and types and the entries through the various ports. The members also analysed the capabilities of the drug control and detection equipment.

Lt-Gen Dhahi Khalfan called for intensified and unified efforts among all concerned parties to deal with the drug problem at the national level, including police, border guards, coast guard, customs officers and port officials.

He pointed out that the priority lines of protection in the face of the drug problem and its spread lie in a number of elements, the most important of which are: The family, which has the first role in educating their children and preventing them from going with bad friends in addition to role of schools. He also stressed the importance of activating and enhancing the role of the media in the process of raising awareness of the dangers of drugs and the consequences of their spread in society.


Source :  The Khaleej Times

‘Words can’t describe horror of Grenfell fire’

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Sarwat Nasir/Dubai
Filed on March 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 28, 2018 at 11.35 pm

Sadafi remembers the night vividly and recalled how relieved he was that his mother survived the fire.

A 24-storey building entirely torched in flames, residents hanging out of windows in effort to escape the fire, blurry vision, heavy smoke and unimaginable fear – this was the scene of the horrific night a Grenfell Tower resident said he can never forget.

Shahin Sadafi lived in West London’s Grenfell Tower since 1997, until it tragically burned down on June 14, 2017, killing 71 residents of the building. Sadafi was in Dubai earlier this week to attend BOLD Talks, where he spoke about the incident and how he is helping the other survivors and victims rebuild their lives.

The UK media reported this week that the fire was caused by a fault in a Hotpoint fridge freezer on the fourth floor of the building. The flames quickly spread on the exterior cladding of the tower.

Sadafi, who lived on the fifth floor, remembers the night vividly and recalled how relieved he was that his mother survived the fire.

“I was away on a training course for my job and I received a phone call in the evening from my close friend that the building was on fire and to get out of the building quickly. It was a sound that I’ll never forget. I pleaded to him to get my mother out of the building,” Sadafi recalled.

“My wife was staying at her parents’ house for the night and my brother was away at work at another part of the country. So, my mother was alone. It was a very unusual thing to happen where my mum would be left home alone. She has some mobility issues and suffers from arthritis, something that doesn’t allow her to move properly and she gets a lot of pain. We normally don’t leave her alone. But on that night it happened.

“By the time I got to the building, it was already 2.30am and the whole building was pretty much on fire. I only saw blurry faces as I was rushing to find my mum. It was the most frightening incident that I had ever gone through, not knowing she was safe. By the time I knew she was safe, an overwhelming emotion of relief took over me. However, that was very short-lived because while I looked up, holding my mum in my arms, not realising that the horror site I was witnessing had people trapped in it and it took so many lives. I heard screams and I saw people hanging out from windows and then I realised the horror we were in. Words cannot describe what we had to witness that night.”

This was not the first time Sadafi and his family lost their home. He was born during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, a war that cost his family their home and caused them to relocate.

Sadafi’s family relocated to London in 1994 and moved into Grenfell Tower in 1997. He said the residents in the tower had seen him grow up and that he had many friends in the tower and the neighbourhood.

“We grew up in that neighbourhood, we rebuilt our lives. I absolutely loved my community. I played sports in my local facilities, I made a lot of friends. It was the most devastating thing to happen in the UK since World War 2. It was tragic and horrific to have 71 of my neighbours and friends pass away,” he said.



Source :  The Khaleej Times

Retaking CBSE exams ‘stressful’, say UAE students

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Dhanusha Gokulan (Reporter )/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 28, 2018 at 09.26 pm

The exact dates of the examinations were not announced and expected on the board’s website next week.

More than 10,000 Indian students have to reappear their Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics examinations following a confirmation of question paper leaks by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), on Wednesday.

Parents, students as well as teachers in the UAE expressed their deep disappointment with the Indian education board’s decision to conduct re-examinations for Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics papers.

The CBSE, which runs under the government of India, on Wednesday confirmed in a circular: “The board has taken cognizance of certain happenings in the conduct of certain examinations as are being reported. With the view to upholding the sanctity of the bard examinations and in the interest of the fairness to the students, the board has decided to reconduct the examinations in the subjects.”

However, the exact dates of the examinations were not announced and expected on the board’s website next week.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, a reliable source in the UAE revealed that 8,474 in the UAE will have to re-appear the Class 10 Math exam and 2,713 students from Class 12 will have to re-appear the Economics paper.

One teacher said that for most Grade 10 students, the Math exam was the final paper. “Students who had opted for French and Urdu as their second language have exams on April 2. But the exams ended for all the other students on March 28.

Obviously, they are disappointed and upset.”

Reports of the Grade 12 Economics question paper leaking had emerged on Monday; however, the board denied the leak earlier. Questions were leaked on social media channels, particularly WhatsApp.

A Grade 10 student Anagha Rajesh from Sharjah said: “The Mathematics paper went well for most of us… The entire year has been so stressful as this is the first time the board reintroduced Grade 10 exams after eight years… A re-test is unfair on students who worked hard.”

CEO of the Indian High School Ashok Kumar said, “In order to maintain the prestige of the exams, announcing a re-sit is the right step from the CBSE. However, it will cause upset for students who have been impacted by the decision as they will be taking other exams alongside the re-sit papers.”

Michael Guzder, vice president – Indian Schools, GEMS Education, said: “CBSE as a body needs to look at the matter sympathetically from the point of view of parents, pupils and teachers as they have gone through a great amount of stress and anxiety in preparing for the end of year annual examination. It also becomes difficult as most of them are travelling on holiday and gone to write admission tests.”

A Sharjah-based parent of a Grade 12 commerce student, Nisha Panicker said: “My daughter, Anjana, had a good economics exam. The thought of preparing for, and re-writing the exams is an extremely stressful one… Grade 10 and 12 and generally a tough time for students because the board exams are so stressful as it is. This is just very unfair.”

A Grade 10 Dubai-based science teacher said: “Not just students, but parents and teachers have been slogging the entire year to prepare students for the board exams. This decision is mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing for students.” Furthermore, to express their indignation over the board’s decision, an online petition on change.org has been making its rounds among members of the parent and student community. The petition, on change.org, is titled: “Why should innocent students suffer for leaked paper of CBSE exams?”

At the time of print, several 100 students had signed the petition as it was making its rounds among parents and students in the UAE as well. The petition demanded that students in Delhi are the only ones who should attempt the re-tests as that’s the only place where the leaks took place.

Author and former Indian politician Shashi Tharoor tweeted a link to the change.org petition stating: “The CBSE leak is a disgrace and accountability is essential. Officials must be culpable, yet it is innocent students who will be punished.”



Source :  The Khaleej Times

Games authority refuses to let Premier speak at Opening Ceremony

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29 March 2018 — 8:11am

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been left off the official speaking schedule for the opening ceremony of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

It led to claims she had been snubbed and was fuming that no Queensland representative would be part of the official ceremony when Prince Charles opens the Games next Wednesday.

GOLDOC head Peter Beattie said he had made efforts to allow Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk a role but he had been refused.
GOLDOC head Peter Beattie said he had made efforts to allow Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk a role but he had been refused.

Photo: AAP

The Commonwealth Games Federation, which made the decision, said in a statement to News Corp that “it is critical that these games remain unpoliticised”.

Former Queensland premier and now head of the Gold Coast Games organising committee Peter Beattie will have a speaking role, as will the CGF’s Scottish president Louise Martin.

Mr Beattie said the host city agreement signed in 2011 gave the CGF the final say on opening and closing ceremony arrangements.

 “I’ve made representations the premier should speak, that was my recommendation, but the CGF has made a decision she should not,” Mr Beattie told News Corp.

“I respect their decision. I’ve offered to give up my spot to the premier on a number of occasions, but that’s entirely a matter for the CGF, nothing to do with me.”

Ms Palaszczuk tried to play down the situation.

“This is the Gold Coast and Queensland’s time to shine and as Premier of the host state, if the situation had been different, of course I would have loved to have given a very warm Queenslander welcome at the Opening Ceremony,” she told News Corp.

The CGF executive is expected to meet on Thursday to discuss a possible speaking role for Ms Palaszczuk at the closing ceremony alongside Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate as part of the handover to Birmingham.


Source :  The Brisbane Times