Journalists’ bodies up in arms over NBTC’s suspension order for Peace TV

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politics May 12, 2018 01:00



politics May 12, 2018 01:00


THE THAI JOURNALISTS Association (TJA) and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (Thai BJA) yesterday called for the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to review its recent order to suspend the broadcast of the red-shirt Peace TV.

The two media organisations slammed the order as infringing on media rights protected by the Constitution and warned the NBTC action, which followed the junta’s orders, would only undermine the agency’s independence and credibility.

The NBTC on Wednesday ordered Peace TV to go off air completely for 30 days after it was accused of broadcasting content deemed provocative and causing confusion in four of its news and news talk programmes.

The contents were against the Administrative Court’s order that demanded the station respect the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order Nos 97/2557 and 103/2557, which made it binding on the media to not broadcast any provocative content, according to the NBTC. Peace TV had repeatedly disobeyed the orders, the agency said.

This is not the first time Peace TV has faced this predicament. In the four years since the coup, the red-shirt station has been temporarily shut down for 15 or 30 days several times because of controversial political content.

The TJA and Thai BJA said in the statement that the suspension of Peace TV had an impact not only on the station but also on the people working there even though some of them were not part of the problematic programmes. Unless the NBTC was prudent in exercising its power, it could easily destroy press freedom as well as the media as business organisations, the statement read.

Duty to protect independence of media

Apart from that, the media organisations also reminded the NBTC of its direct role in protecting the independence of media companies.

However, the order imposed on Peace TV was in violation of the Constitution, which prohibited the shutting down of mass media companies, it said.

The TJA and Thai BJA said that the NBTC could have considered punishing only problematic programmes, not suspending the entire station.

In addition, other laws such as defamation were available to deal with the issues they posed, they added.

If the station was really irresponsible |in its reports, the TJA and Thai BJA |said the market mechanism and |consumers would bring consequences to the station.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Mahathir orders overseas travel ban on Najib

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politics May 13, 2018 01:00



MALAYSIA’S newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday he had ordered the travel ban on ousted premier Najib Razak and his wife.

“It is true that I prevented Najib from leaving the country … he and his wife,” he told a press conference.

The PM named three key members of his Cabinet which will consist of only 10 core ministries, as he prepares to run the country with a streamlined administration, according to The Star.

Najib, who lost the poll to Mahathir, 92, faced an overseas travel ban imposed by Malaysian immigration authorities as speculation mounted he was about to flee the country due to a possible prosecution over a multi-billion-dollar scandal, said AFP.

Regarding the new Mahathir Cabinet, it was reported that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin Yassin would be named the home minister, while DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng will be finance minister and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu the defence minister.

Mahathir also said that the government would set up a “council of elders”. This will consist of former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former Bank Negara governor Zeti Aziz, former Petronas CEO Hassan Merican, Hong Kong-based Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, and economics expert Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, according to The Star. On ex-premier Najib, AFP reported that an angry crowd had gathered at a Kuala Lumpur airport, shouting at vehicles and seeking to stop them entering, after a purported flight itinerary leaked online showed Najib and his unpopular wife were planning to head to Indonesia.

Later yesterday, Najib – who has been under growing pressure from inside his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition since the landslide loss – announced he was quitting as head of BN as well as its main party.

The coalition’s defeat in the election at the hands of an alliance led by his one-time mentor Mahathir Mohamad amounted to a political earthquake, which toppled an increasingly authoritarian regime that had ruled the country for six decades.

Speculation had been mounting that Najib, who has been embroiled in a massive scandal related to state fund 1MDB, might try to flee the country as Mahathir has pledged to investigate the controversy.

As an image of the leaked manifest for a flight to Jakarta spread like wildfire online, Najib insisted in social media posts he was planning only a “short break” overseas to rest after the election and would be back next week.

But anger quickly mounted among social media users who accused the defeated leader of seeking to flee, and the immigration department swiftly announced both he and his wife Rosmah Mansor were banned from leaving Malaysia.

“The immigration department has just now blacklisted Najib and Rosmah from leaving the country,” Mustafar Ali, director-general of the department, told AFP.

Najib said in a tweet he had been informed of the move. “I respect the decision and I will remain in the country with my family,” he said.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Alleged cop killer shot dead by police

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national May 13, 2018 01:00


POLICE CHASED and shot dead a drug suspect in Kalasin province yesterday just hours after a “shoot to kill” order was given following the recovery of the body of a police officer allegedly killed by him.


POLICE CHASED and shot dead a drug suspect in Kalasin province yesterday just hours after a “shoot to kill” order was given following the recovery of the body of a police officer allegedly killed by him.

Police said drug suspect Suriyan Lekphet was shot and killed at 1.30am on Ban Promlee Road in Moo 12 village in Tambo Nong Bua, Nong Krungsri district.

At 6am, Kalasin Governor Kraisorn Kongchalad, Kalasin police chief Pol Maj-General Montree and Sixth Cavalry Regiment commander Colonel Sombat Jindasee went to the scene to inspect the body of the suspect.

 Provincial Police Bureau commissioner chief Pol Lt-General Surachai Khuantechakhup had said on Friday that police officers would be justified in adopting a “shoot to kill” stance against the suspect after the body of Pol Corporal Saran Muthaporn was found in the Pao River.

Saran fell into the river after being shot at a fishing pier in Ban Dong Somboon in Tambon Dong Somboon in Khatho district. Another officer, Pol Sgt-Major Pramote Thipmongkol, was also allegedly shot and injured by the suspect.

Suriyan was fleeing after being granted bail in a case of meth trafficking. A warrant for his arrest had been issued by the Kalasin Court.

Following the killing of the cop, the Provincial Police Bureau 4 assembled a team of 200 officers to hunt down the suspect.

Montree said police learned on Friday evening that the suspect was still hiding in Tambon Dong Somboon.

Officers carried out a massive manhunt in the tambon until the suspect was spotted in Moo 12 in the nearby Tambon Nong Bua in Nong Krungsri district early yesterday.

Montree said police surrounded the suspect and told him to surrender but the suspect allegedly opened fire at police and ran onto the road.

He said police returned fire and killed the suspect.

After the shootout, the suspect was found lying face down. A homemade shotgun capable of loading one bullet at a time was found near his body. He was shot five times in his abdomen and one bullet hit him in his left hip.

A relative confirmed that the dead man was Suriyan. His body was later sent to the Forensic Medicine Institute of Khon Kaen province for a post mortem.

Kraisorn said his province had been relentlessly cracking down on drug trafficking. He said the operations from now on would have to be more careful as the suspects might be armed.

The governor vowed to terminate drug trafficking from the northeastern province.

Surachai also said that police would henceforth be more careful when hunting drug suspects as they might be armed and might try to resist arrest.

Surachai said the Provincial Police Bureau 4 would host funeral services for the slain cop at Wat Phochai in Nong Khai, his home province, and would seek a royally sponsored cremation rite for him.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Bt30 million in grants offered to academics for collaboration

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Last year awardee of Institutional Links research fund from Chulalongkorn University Tirayut Vilaivan presents the outcome of his research project at the press conference for this year grant last week.Nation / Pratch Rujivanarom
Last year awardee of Institutional Links research fund from Chulalongkorn University Tirayut Vilaivan presents the outcome of his research project at the press conference for this year grant last week.
Nation / Pratch Rujivanarom

national May 13, 2018 01:00



THAI ACADEMICS are being invited to apply for new research grants in order to collaborate with their British counterparts and spearhead social change with innovations and technologies.


THAI ACADEMICS are being invited to apply for new research grants in order to collaborate with their British counterparts and spearhead social change with innovations and technologies.

The British Council, together with the Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC) and the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), yesterday announced the call for “Institutional Links” 2018-19, to provide grants for research corresponding to the Thai government’s 10 targeted industries.

The grant fund of Bt30 million comes equally from the UK’s Newton Fund and its partners in Thailand, OHEC and TRF.

Thai researchers have until June 8 to apply for grants from OHEC or TRF.

Those selected will be granted up to Bt7 million for their research and also get the opportunity to work with counterparts from leading academic institutions in the UK. The British Council is one of the delivery partners of the Newton Fund, which supports research collaboration between the UK and Thailand through the Institutional Links programme.

Grants for this year will be targeted at research related to Thailand’s 10 “S-Curve” industries.

These are: next-generation automotive, smart electronics, medical and wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food for the future, robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, digital, and medical hub.

The collaboration between UK and Thailand under the Newton Fund’s Institutional Links would enhance research and innovation development in both countries, said Pongsakorn Tantilipikorn, TRF International Research Network and International Affairs assistant director. “Institutional Links will connect Thai and UK researchers and lead to the exchange of knowledge, technology and innovation which will help internationalise our research work,” Pongsakorn said.

Punpermsak Aruni, OHEC Human Resources Development Policy director, added that Institutional Links also play important roles in building capacity of Thai professors and researchers, who will be helping to link research and innovation and the New S-Curve industries with ambitions for the transition to a digital economy, or “Thailand 4.0”.

Tirayut Vilaivan, a researcher from Chulalongkorn University who was awarded a grant last year, described how he also got the chance to work with researchers from University of Liverpool in developing a simple and cheap paper-based technique to test for chemical contamination in food.

“The project is resoundingly successful and there are already many business operators in the food industry interested in this innovation, so I would like to express my gratitude toward Newton Fund and its Thai partners for helping me with this academic achievement,” Tirayut said.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Descendants celebrate Siamese Twins and Thai-US friendship

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national May 13, 2018 01:00


IF “SIAMESE twins” Chang and Eng Bunker, Thailand’s most famous twin entertainers, were alive today, they would no doubt be impressed to see their descendants making their first official visit to the Kingdom to celebrate their 207th birthday on Friday in Samut Songkhram province, the birthplace of the twins.


“This [birthday celebration] is so meaningful. They are here in my heart, so they are home, “ Robin Craver, Eng’s great-great-granddaughter, told The Nation with tears in her eye, while her left hand touched her heart.

“It’s beyond our expectation and so exciting to [hold the reunion] here in front of the twins’ statue,” added Alex Sink, the great-granddaughter of Chang.

Craver and Sink are among a dozen of the twins’ third-generation to fifth-generation descendants who joined the celebration at the Chang Eng Memorial in Samut Songkhram.

 Although descendants of both brothers continued to hold joint reunions every last Saturday of May in the US, this year’s celebration was special to them. Clearly emotional, their descendants joined in Buddhist rites and planted an Inchan plant, or Gold Apple, in front of a statue of the twins. They also unveiled a new street named “Chang and Eng” near the statue is located. The gathering is being organised jointly with the Foreign Ministry as part of the 185th anniversary of Thai-US relations.

The twins were born on May 11, 1811 in the reign of King Rama II to a Thai-Chinese family in Samut Songkhram. The brothers were joined at the sternum by a small piece of cartilage and though their livers were fused, they were independently complete.

As the twins were unique, King Rama II assigned them to a Siamese diplomatic trip to Indochina in 1827. Two years later, Robert Hunter, a Scottish merchant who lived in Bangkok, took them on a world tour and they later became world famous entertainers and businessmen. Settling in Mount Airy in North Carolina, Chang and Eng married two American sisters and fathered 21 children.

They have more than 1,500 descendants, who continue to reside in the vicinity of Mount Airy where the twins lived and worked for over 30 years before they died on January 17, 1874 at the age of 63.

Their amazing life has been portrayed in novels, musicals and movies.

Responding to an invitation by Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, the presence of the descendants of Chang and Eng is a significant symbol of the longstanding cordial and close relations between this country and the United States at the level of people-to-people.

“The Siamese twins Chang and Eng travelled to the US even before the establishment of our relations. They are the first known Thais who set foot in the US. Moreover, they realised the ‘American Dream”. They were not only very successful in business, they also were the first Siamese to connect people between the two countries,” said Sarun Charoensuwan, director general of the American and South Pacific Affairs Department.

Co-hosted by the province, the event kicked off the “Return of Siamese Twins Chang and Eng Festival” aimed at promoting tourism in the city and an exchange between Samut Songkhram and Mount Airy in North Carolina.

Samut Songkhram Governor Kanchantra Tunsatien expressed hope that the festival would promote awareness about the city globally.

“Now 100,000 tourists visit the city weekly. We’re expecting to increase that by another 10,000-20,000 tourists. We also hope to spark cultural exchanges too,” Kanchantra told reporters.

During the cultural trip, the descendants visited the studio of respected sculptor Sa-ngad Jaiprom, who created their statue in 1994.

The sculptor gave them a small sculpture of Chang and Eng made from homemade plaster and painted with gold.

“Our family would love to erect a similar bronze statue designed by an American sculptor in our city Mount Airy,” Sink said. “We are working on joining the two cities as ‘Sister Cities’ in order to boost exchange between the two countries.”

The family was impressed by his studio display of drawings of the twins. Craver compared portraits of her mother on her mobile phone to Eng, her great-great grandfather.

“I feel a strong connection. I admire them more because of the journey that we took together to get here. The twins were able to get to the United States and be very successful. I’m so proud to be a part-Thai descendant,” Craver said.

Dressed in traditional costumes, they also visited the King Rama II Memorial Park where they learned more about Thai culture.

Zack Worrell, Eng’s great-great grandson, said the family would boost more exchanges between the two countries.

“We hope to stage the famous ‘Chang Eng – The Music’ directed by Thai director Ekachai Uekrongtham, in the US. Now we are making small sculptures of the twins to raise funds,” said Worrell. “It’s a dream come true. We will share our overwhelming moments and wonderful experiences with our descendants,” he concluded.

Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Three Iraqi soldiers wounded while repelling Islamic State attack in Diyala

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Diyala ( Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded while repulsing an attack by Islamic State members in Diyala province, a security source was quoted saying on Friday.

Speaking to Baghdad Today website, the source said, “three soldiers were wounded as they repelled an attack launched by IS militants near Berwana village, at the outskirts of Muqdadiya region in Diyala.”

The soldiers, according to the source, were taken to hospital for treatment.

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.

Thousands of Islamic State 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, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul in June 2014.

A total of 68 Iraqis were killed and another 122 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in April, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

As many as 3,298 civilians were killed and 4,781 others were wounded in 2017, excluding Anbar civilian casualty figures for November and December, which are not available, UNAMI said in a report in December.


Source :  Iraqi News

Ahead of Iraq’s elections, there are signs that sectarianism is at last collapsing

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By Haidar Lapcha and Mohammed Al-Jumaily, Integrity

Baghdad ( This weekend people across Iraq will take to the polls in the country’s national elections. Despite the inevitable debate that will follow – likely to cover everything from the results to turnout to electoral flaws – these elections are important. They represent an exciting opportunity for the country to begin a new phase following the defeat of ISIS in 2014, and embody Iraq’s resilience against the brutal conflict that has ravaged their country over the last four years.

Ahead of the upcoming elections, we travelled throughout Anbar – a Sunni-majority province west of Baghdad, speaking to local civilians rebuilding their lives after years of brutality under ISIS. The most striking change is a shift away from traditional identity-based tribal and sectarian politics. Sectarianism leads to the poor treatment of some ethno-religious groups over others and undermines any progress for developing Iraq into the economic powerhouse that it has the potential to be. Many believe it is sectarianism which served to fracture the country, contributing to the rise of division and forming the backdrop to the successive conflicts since 2003. Since Saddam Hussain was toppled, political parties have often been built around sectarian identities rather than on policies which meet the long-term interests of all Iraqis.

There are signs on the ground that a decline in sectarianism is taking place. I met Abu al-Tayib, a Sunni candidate who was to my initial surprise, standing for election in Fallujah under Haider al-Abadi’s Shia-led Nasr Coalition. This is the first time a traditionally Shi’a-led party is campaigning in predominantly Sunni provinces, suggesting that sectarian tensions and wounds are slowly beginning to heal. I asked him (perhaps bluntly) why a Sunni from Fallujah would stand for election as a candidate for a Shia party. Al-Tayib wants to “break from sectarianism” and told me he joined Nasr for two primary reasons: firstly, to break the perception that Iraqi politics is driven by sectarianism and, secondly, because Nasr was the only coalition that nominated candidates in every province in Iraq, representing all ethno-religious groups. Motivated by his stint as the UN Anbar province manager, he met Iraqis from all walks of life and saw first-hand that Iraqis have far more in common than many imply. Driven by unity and activism, Al-Tayib is part of the next generation of Iraqis who want to build a better Iraq.

This is being matched by an exciting evolution in civil society. Young people are leading this charge, taking a proactive role in instilling change, often at grassroots level. They know that if they do not use civic activism to fill any vacuum left behind, extremists’ poison may mushroom once more. I met Ahmed Falah al-Dhiabi, a prominent civil society activist who heads a project helping those displaced during the conflict. He spoke about his own experience of displacement with fellow Sunnis, Shias, Turkmen and Christians, and how this shattered any sectarian fears he had once held. Ahmed told me young people want to change the image people have of Fallujah so that it is no longer seen as hotbed of extremism and violence. Post ISIS, civilians have a renewed sense of optimism and faith in the country and its institutions. They are proud and ambitious for their future.

While it may be premature to conclude that sectarian narratives no longer shape perceptions, these elections signal Iraqis are increasingly tired of sectarian politics. Across the political spectrum, there appears to be a desire to challenge sectarianism, recognising this is what Iraqi people want. This shift, if sustainable, has the potential to be momentous for Iraq’s future. Yes, these elections are flawed: a vast majority of those likely to win seats at the upcoming elections are the same faces, which is something that must be challenged to ensure positive reform. Nonetheless it is still a step towards change.

The gradual defeat of terrorism is allowing civilians to have their say. Across the region and beyond, elections are taking place – in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan – and while there is a long way to go, the tide is turning towards democracy. Whatever the result, the Iraqi Government must seize on these elections as a chance to unite the country and rebuild trust with citizens, beginning the process of reconciliation. In particular, they must continue to build bridges with Iraq’s youth. After all, with over 60% of the Iraqi population under the age of 30, the country’s current trajectory will be largely determined by young people. This is exciting because despite the clichés, youth does bring hope, and if harvested, it can bring change. The next generation is making itself clear that neither terrorism, nor sectarianism, belong in their Iraq.

Haidar Lapcha and Mohammed Al-Jumaily are based at Integrity UK. Haidar regularly travels across the MENA region focusing on civil society, capacity building and strengthening local communities. Mohammed is a MENA analyst with Integrity UK focusing on Iraqi politics, economics and social issues.


Source  :  Iraqi News

Iraq: 44.5 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in parliamentary polls

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Baghdad ( – The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said on Sunday that 44.5 percent of Iraqis cast their ballots in the first legislative elections in the country since the defeat of Islamic State last year.

“Of all 24.5 million eligible voters, just 10,8 million voted in the parliamentary polls with a percentage of 44.2,” Knooz Media quoted Riyadh al-Badran, the commission’s spokesperson, as saying.

Commenting on recent reports of fierce clashes between rival parties in oil-rich Kirkuk, Badran stressed that the electoral process was running smoothly there, noting that “all political parties have the right to challenge the results of elections.”

In October, Iraqi forces backed by Shi’ite militias dislodged Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who had taken control of Kirkuk city in 2014, preventing its capture by Islamic State militants who had overrun Iraqi army positions in northern and western Iraq.

The return of the Iraqi army to Kirkuk was greeted with relief by the Arab and Turkmen populations there.

Saturday’s elections are the first in Iraq since the defeat of Islamic State last year by Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition.

The elections will decide the 329 members of the Council of Representatives who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister.

Source :  Iraqi News

Iraqi pro-government troops kill 3 Islamic State militants in Kirkuk

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Kirkuk ( – Iraqi paramilitary troops killed on Saturday night three Islamic State (IS) militants in an ambush in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, Baghdad Today news website reported Sunday.

“Troops of the 27th brigade of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) acted on precise intelligence data as they managed to kill three members of the terrorist Islamic State group in an ambush at al-Rashad district in Hawija, west of Kirkuk,” the media service of al-Hashd al-Shaabi said in a statement.

The statement accused the militants of “planning to carry out terrorist attacks against security headquarters in Kirkuk.”

Kirkuk Governor Rakan al-Jubouri announced on Saturday a curfew from midnight until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) to prevent any ethnic or sectarian tension between its Kurdish, Arab and ethnic Turkmen communities over the parliamentary elections.

He also ordered a manual recount of votes, saying an electronic counting system had produced an “illogical” result.

In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi troops recaptured Hawija, a main town held by Islamic State in the country.

The town had fallen to IS in June 2014, when the militant group seized control of much of northern and western Iraq and proclaimed the creation of a self-styled “caliphate”.

There, Islamic State’s reign forced thousands to flee to refugee camps, while hundreds had been executed by the group for attempting to escape the area or contacting security forces.

Source :  Iraqi News

Bomb attack leaves Iraqi border guard killed in Diyala

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Diyala ( – An Iraqi border guard was killed Sunday in a bomb blast in Diyala, the latest in a series of terrorist attacks that target Iraqi security forces and citizens on almost a daily basis, a local source was quoted as saying.

“An explosive charge went off early Sunday on the outskirts of Khanaqin city, 100 km northeast of Baqubah, leaving an Iraqi border guard dead,” the source told SNG agency.

“Security bodies opened a probe into the incident,” according to the source, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity.

Khanaqin, some 400 km southeast of Erbil, was previously part of Kirkuk province, but it was annexed to Diyala province after the Arabization process launched by late president Saddam Hussein.

It was the only place that recovered quickly from this process after Saddam’s fall in 2003. The city is still part of the disputed areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad.

In January 2015, Iraqi forces announced liberation of Diyala province from Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

The province has seen months of fighting between Iraqi troops and IS militants especially in the Jalawla and Saadiyah areas in the province’s north and areas near the town of Muqdadiyah.


Source :  Iraq News