800 media professionals laid off or contracts unfairly terminated

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The National Union of Journalists Thailand says the media situation in Thailand is looking increasingly grim with around 800 media industry staff either being laid off or having had their contracts unlawfully terminated.

A portion of the media professionals also say they were not sufficiently compensated, in violation of Thailand’s labour laws. Also, many said they had not been paid for the extra work they were made to do for subsidiaries under the same umbrella of media agencies.

In response to the complaints, the National Union of Journalists Thailand says it will come up with help for those affected by unfair termination as well as legal counsel made available, or help to negotiate better deals with their former employers.

Most of the media professionals have been affected by the return of the operating licences for digital television channels to the National Broadcasting of Telecommunications Commission.

As many as 20 veteran reporters with The Nation newspaper had their contracts terminated after the publication of the 48 year old daily newspaper was halted at the end of June. Those made to leave The Nation have been compensated at legal rates, according to nationthailand.com. As many as 100 people were also laid off in March this year when the publication of the Thai-language Post Today ceased.

The latest situation of concern raised at the meeting was the planned layoff of 267 staff at Bright TV (Channel 20) along with the plan to remove 200 people employed by Channel 3 after it ceased digital operations of two channels. A similar policy is targeting 132 Spring News (Channel 19) employees, in the wake of a consolidation of NOW (Channel 26) and Spring News TV channels.

TNN and True 4 U have also laid off 26 and 10 people respectively as part of plans to get rid of 70 employees in the near future. GMM News (Channel 25) is also aiming to get rid of 25 people, while Channel 7 plans to dislodge 113 people working for the now-defunct analogue channel.

Meanwhile, many former employees of Channel 3 lodged a petition with the Labour Court last Wednesday complaining about unfair compensation. The main digital Channel 3HD (Channel 33) is still operating, but operations of 3SD and 3Family (Channels 28 and 13 respectively) have been discontinued.

These channels will cease their digital terrestrial broadcast later this month.

 

Source : thethaiger.com

Deluge of candidates for poll

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MORE THAN TWICE THE NUMBER OF HOPEFULS REGISTER IN FIRST TWO DAYS COMPARED TO 2011; EXPERT POINTS TO NEW ELECTION SYSTEM

 

JUST TWO DAYS after the Election Commission (EC) began accepting applications, a record-breaking 6,400 candidates from 60 parties have registered in the run-up to the long-awaited national polls.

An expert put the huge turnout to the new election system – Mixed-Member Apportionment (MMA) – saying parties are fielding as many candidates as possible in order to gain votes.

As of yesterday, 6,474 candidates had registered with the EC – more than twice the number of candidates who had registered in the 2011 election, which saw 2,422 MP candidates.

The agency’s secretary-general, Jarungvith Phumma, said 546 individuals had registered yesterday, while more than 5,000 had applied on Monday – the very first day of registration. However, not many parties have handed in the names of their party-list and PM candidates.

Parties have until 4.30pm on Friday to submit their list of candidates in all categories. Jarungvith, however, advised parties to not leave things to the last minute, especially since every application would need to be verified.

So far, he said, only four parties had submitted all three lists – namely the Shinawatra-camp parties Pheu Thai and Thai Raksa Chart, and anti-junta parties Seri Ruam Thai and New Palang Dharma.

Pheu Thai’s list of PM candidates included its de facto leader Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, the formidable former transport minister Chatchart Sitthipan and legal expert Chaikasem Nitisiti.

The party also submitted 97 names for party-list MPs, which showed that Pheu Thai was pinning its hopes on senior figures, such as party leader Viroj Pao-in, secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai, Sudarat and Chaikasem.

However, Chatchart was not included in the MP list, even though he is very popular among urban middle-class voters.

Chatchart affirmed his loyalty to the party yesterday and hinted he might run in the Bangkok gubernatorial elections in the future.

Meanwhile, political scientist Wanwichat Boonprong from Rangsit University yesterday put the record-breaking number of applications to the new electoral system.

“Small and medium-sized parties are now fielding candidates in more areas because this is a chance for them to gain votes that can count towards party-list MPs,” he explained. “We can see parties, such as Bhumjaithai, fielding more candidates in Bangkok, when previously their focus was outside the capital.”

However, he said, for Pheu Thai it is different. It is set to win in many constituencies, which will only reduce its number of party-list MPs. Hence, it has to field fewer candidates and use a proxy party such as Thai Raksa Chart, to compete in the party-list MP contest, he said.

Under the new election method, even when a candidate loses in a constituency, the votes they get are counted and calculated for the party’s share of seats in the House of Representatives.

So, if a party’s candidates in all 350 constituencies get 1,000 votes each, that would total 350,000 votes for the party, which could translate to as many as seven seats for party-list MPs, Wanwichit explained. Hence, most parties were likely to field as many candidates as possible, he said.

Also, since the new law limits the amount of money that can be used for campaigns, all parties – small and large – have an equal chance to introduce themselves to the voters, he added. This is why smaller |parties have become hopeful, he said.

Meanwhile, other closely watched parties such as the Democrat and Phalang Pracharat have yet to hand in their list of hopefuls.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a potential candidate of Phalang Pracharat, said yesterday that he was still considering the party’s policy proposals, adding he had until Friday to make a final decision.

Earlier, it was said that Prayut was still on the fence because he was not very happy about the party’s choice of list MPs. Prayut reportedly wants politicians facing legal charges to be removed from the list. However, the coup leader denied the report yesterday.

“I haven’t seen the list,” he told reporters. “It has nothing to do with me. They invited me to be their PM candidate, but the list is the party’s responsibility. Now, I’m not related to any political party.”

 

Source : The Nation Multimedia

Prayut won’t step down as PM for poll

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Four ministers of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government yesterday pose at Government House.

politics January 30, 2019 01:00

By KAS CHANWANPEN
THE NATION

Junta leader awaiting ‘invitation’ from parties; expects to make his decision before Feb 8.

JUNTA LEADER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday vowed he would not step down as prime minister while stating clearly that if he was to return as the PM, it would be through normal means – as a candidate on a party’s list.

Circumstances now clearly point to General Prayut topping the PM list of the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party, but the coup leader yesterday remained officially non-committal, repeating that he had not been contacted by any party.

However, Prayut seemed to keep his options open, saying: “I am waiting for invitations. And I need time to study their policy proposals and their practicality. If I am to join them, I have to see their policies.”

He said he expected to make his decision by February 8, the date when the Election Commission (EC) requires PM-candidate lists to be submitted by parties. He was much clearer on two other matters – that he will not give up his premiership during the election period, and he will not return to power as an “outsider” PM.

“Don’t press me now,” Prayut said. “Who will do this if I quit? I will stay no matter what. The law doesn’t say I have to leave. I can stay until the new government is in place.”

If he were to return as the premier, Prayut said, “I have to be on the list. Let’s just say that. Otherwise, they’ll say I’m an outsider [PM]. It’ll just get too chaotic if I am not on the list.”

With the election fast approaching and the strong possibility of Prayut keeping his hold on power after the polls, critics are calling for the PM to step down to ensure a fair election.

If he stays on during the lead-up to polling day and before the new government takes office, political observers say the regime will use its absolute power and current status to manipulate the poll.

They said the government could conveniently use the government’s major “Pracharat” scheme, which shares the same keyword as the pro-junta party “Phalang Pracharat”, to gain popularity over other parties.

This criticism was especially severe when the government handed out cash to low-income earners as a New Year gift.

Also, mobile Cabinet meetings have been held in different provinces, allowing Prayut to meet with voters and respond to their demands.

State resources should not be exploited for the gains of a particular party, critics said.

In a worst-case scenario, given that the junta enjoys absolute power allowed by Article 44, political scientists have voiced concern that Prayut could use his absoute power to do anything – including cancelling the election altogether.

Attasit Pankaew, a political scientist from Thammasat University, warned yesterday that these criticisms would put much pressure on Prayut unless he steps down now.

“Of course, if Prayut is on the PM-candidate list and refuses to give up power, he has to bear the criticism that he is abusing state power for his own political gain,” Attasit said.

Questions about whether the election is free and fair will haunt Prayut throughout the campaign, if he continued in power, Attasit said.

And after the election, if the pro-junta camp comes out on top, and Prayut remained premier, questions would be raised about his victory, he added.

If Prayut insists on keeping his position and power throughout the electoral campaign, the expert advised that he exercise his power discreetly to avoid public criticism that would make his premiership after the election difficult.

In a related development, the four ministers who occupy key positions in the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat yesterday resigned from their positions after weeks of criticism. Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, and PM’s |Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool bowed out.

Uttama is the Phalang Pracharat leader while the other three are party executives.

Prayut said he will not reshuffle the Cabinet but only assign their duties to other Cabinet members.