The European Commission has removed Thailand from the warning group for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The government resorted to Section 44 - NCPO's absolute power - 9 times to bring Thailand into line with EU standards and challenges remain.
Mr. Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing damages global fish stocks but it also hurts the people living from the sea, especially those already vulnerable to poverty.” and expressed pleasure that Thailand has become a collaborator in the fight against IUU fishing.
"Since the yellow card was issued, the Commission and Thailand have engaged in a constructive process of cooperation and dialogue. This has resulted in a major upgrade of the Thai fisheries governance in accordance with the international commitments of the country", says the EU press release.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya, representing the Thai government, travelled to participate in the press conference with Karmenu Vella at the European Union Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. He stated that Thailand gives importance not only to sustainable fishing, but also ethical fishing.
“Thailand has pledged to ensure that the working conditions in its domestic fishing industry meet the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” according to the website, which also said that Thailand will become the first country in Asia to ratify ILO Convention 188 on Work in Fishing in late January.
Food and Agriculture Organization had enacted an International Plan of Action on IUU in 2001, with the aim of creating sustainable management and use of marine resources. The plan of action called for voluntary implementation by all countries. The European Commission has been fighting against IUU for a long time and announced regulations in 2008 for EU member states and other nations worldwide to combat illegal fishing. Thailand itself is an exporter of marine products to the EU and so has to guarantee that its products are in accordance with the regulations.
The database of the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) shows that 9 NCPO Head Orders were issued under Article 44 concerning illegal fishing and foreign labour.
9 NCPO Head Orders issued under Article 44
concerning illegal fishing and foreign labour
- NCPO Head Order No. 10/2015 on solving illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The Command Centre to Combat Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) determines policies dealing with human trafficking and illegal fishing, with the Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Centre (Thai-MECC) as the main force for marine and coastal work. 28 Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Control Centres were set up to monitor fishing according to method and time. A Vessel Monitoring System was installed to prevent vessel owners from allowing others to, for example, own fishing gear without permission, use fishing gear not in compliance with the license or fish without a license, fish with a vessel that is not in compliance with the law, etc. Controls were placed on fishing vessels, vessels carrying fish products with cold rooms going into foreign waters and the high seas, and the transfer and conservation of marine animals in the Kingdom. Violations carry a penalty of no more than 1 year’s imprisonment or a fine of no more than 30 million baht or both, according to the violation.
- NCPO Head Order No. 24/2015 on solving the problem of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The registration of Thai vessels was halted until the CCCIF determines otherwise and the use of fishing gear that is dangerous to marine animals was controlled., All persons were prohibited from using, or having in their possession for use in fishing, push nets used with motor boats, surrounding nets with a mesh size smaller than 2.5 centimetres used at night time, trawl nets with a mesh size smaller than 5 centimetres, etc.
- NCPO Head Order No. 42/2015. This was a second amendment to Order No. 10/2015, improving accuracy in the vessel registration system.
- NCPO Head Order No. 17/2016 transferred Wimon Jantrarotai, Director-General of the Department of Fisheries, to the Prime Minister’s Office and promoted Adisorn Promthep from Deputy Director-General to Director-General of the Department of Fisheries
- NCPO Head Order No. 18/2016, an additional amendment to NCPO Head Order no. 10/2015.
- NCPO Head Order No. 69/2016 suspended the statute of limitations on illegal fishing cases in which the accused or defendants have fled during trial or after conviction.
- NCPO Head Order No. 53/2016 further amended Order No. 10/2015 to control the number of fishing vessels, the transfer of crews, and reporting the docking location of vessels without licenses to the Director of Regional Marine Offices.
- NCPO Head Order No. 22/1017 further amended Order No. 10/2015 to authorize the relevant officials to deal with illegal fishing problems without delay.
- NCPO Head Order No. 8/2018 cancelled some measures in previous NCPO Head Orders on solving illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
The government’s measures have proved to be successful in lifting the yellow card and have been welcomed by business. The Thai Union Group CEO, for instance, is pleased with the EU’s decision. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Charoen Pokphand Foods, “whose offerings include such products as shrimp, also saw its shares jump on Jan. 9, approaching a one-month high.”
“Nowadays illegal fishery is no longer about resources – shrimp, shellfish, crabs, fish – but about paperwork." - Kritpasu Charoen
However, some sources mentioned the price of the repeated use of Article 44 and numerous laws passed by the NCPO-dominated parliament. One concern was that government measures were imposed at short notice, with harsh penalties, and without the participation of the people involved. In 2015, the President of the National Fisheries Association of Thailand reported that many fishers had committed suicide due to the stress caused by the financial cost of new equipment, while the officials said they were ready to provide support. In November 2018, the Bhum Jai Thai Party held a seminar with fisheries representatives. Kritpasu Charoen, a committee member of Pattani Fisheries Association , said that more than 300 laws had been passed by the government and the measures went well beyond what the EU requires. Many of them obstruct the fishery industry.
“Nowadays illegal fishery is no longer about resources – shrimp, shellfish, crabs, fish – but about paperwork. For example, the weight of fish caught is not consistent with what is filled out in the form, or the lunchbreak hour for workers was not signed off on. The IUU people said to make it an offence for fishery people who damage resources, but instead the state set out laws that make it an offence for fishery people who get the forms wrong. Most people working in the fishery industry are from the older generations. Some finished just 4 years of primary school, enough to read and write. We want the government to come to talk to the fishers about the problems that happen,” said Kritpasu.
Mr. Surin Nithiwattanaprasit, an advisor to the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, said that there are some parts of Thailand with no Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) signal. When VMS stops reporting to the PIPO (Port-in Port-out) Centre, it will call the vessel back to port and the boat will have to cover its own costs of sailing back.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, who led the Future Forward Party to visit Trat and Pattani, also heard the same grievances. “Many businessmen in commercial fishery that I talked to have no problem with IUU. They are all ready to comply. It is just that they need cooperation over the timing to gradually extend the steps that are required. They want a role in discussions about laws and measures that will come out and the points that they can accept which are both consistent with the standards and let their businesses survive.” A consequence, Piyabutr claimed, is that small- and medium-sized businesses will not be able to live up to the standards; their licenses will be seized and their businesses will be closed, leading to monopoly of big corporates.
On 8 January 2019, while welcoming Thailand’s progress and the EU’s decision, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) made a statement that “important gaps remain.” EJF found shortcomings in the inspections, including the inability to provide consistent translation services for migrant crews. “Without the threat of sanctions from the EU, strong political will is needed to entrench the positive progress already made and ensure its long-term success”, said the EJF statement.NewsIUU FishingArticle44 and Order (NCPO)
The Bangkok International Student Conference 2019 Organizing Committee, in collaboration with the BIR Program, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, would like to invite everyone to the public forum "Youth Engagement in Politics" on Tuesday, 22 January 2019, 09:00 - 12:00, at Room 103, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University (Tha Prachan) to discuss the role of youths in building their ideal world of politics.
Phalang Pracharat Party (To be announced)
Parit Wacharasindhu - Democrat Party
Patchara Naripthaphan - Thai Raksa Chart Party
Pita Limjaroenrat - Future Forward Party
Polnotcha Chakphet - Pheu Thai Party
Varawut Silpa-archa - Chartthaipattana Party
Moderator: Pobek Pornpongmetta
08:00 - 09:00 - Registration
09:00 - 09:05 - Opening speech by BIR student representative
09:05 - 09:15 - Opening speech by Asst. Prof. Dr. Tavida Kamolvej, Dean of Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University
09:15 - 12:00 - Discussion
This forum will be conducted in English, with Thai translation provided at a separate room. This forum will also be available on Facebook Live from the Facebook page "Bangkok International Student Conference - BISC".
Please pre-register at http://bit.ly/BISCForum
2 people claiming to be plain-clothes Special Branch police officers have requested to meet Triumph International Labour Union members at the company to ask if they were going to participate in the pro-election protest on 13 January. The Union has asserted that participation in such activities is the right of each individual and nothing to do with the Union.
8 Jan protest against the NCPO postponement of the election
On 12 Jan 2019, sources reported that on the day before, 2 people in plain clothes claiming to be Special Branch police officers visited Body Fashion (Thailand) Ltd., Bangplee Industrial Estate, Samut Prakan Province, asking to meet 3 Triumph International Thailand Labour Union members: Konchanok Thanakhun, Tueanchai Waengkha and Pimai Ratwongsa.
The officers made contact through the company’s HR department, and questioned if they are going to participate in the protest on 13 Jan against the election postponement . They also spoke as if they wanted the country to be peaceful during this time.
But the Union members who met the officers asserted that participation in such activities is the right of each individual in their own name and has nothing to do with the Union. Before the officers left, they took photos of the Union members.
On 13 Jan there will be a protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection against the postponement of the election from the original date of 24 February 2019. There will also be protests in other provinces.
Konchanok, Tueanchai and Pimai have been arrested in the past and prosecuted under NCPO Head Order No. 3/2015 for participating in activities on 23 June 2016 in front of the Bangplee Industrial Estate, when they campaigned with members of the New Democracy Movement and distributed leaflets providing information on the constitution referendum.
On 26 November 2018, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that the Bangkok Military Court ordered the consolidation of the “Bang Sao Thong Referendum ” case where 11 activists, students and labourers of Samut Prakan are charged with violating NCPO Head Order No. 3/2015, for agitating against the referendum law and not showing their IDs. The prosecutor has requested the court to hear 4 cases together since the defendants jointly committed the offences at the same time. After the consolidation order, the court will hear the evidence on 11 February.News
Many agencies reported, amount of smog in Bangkok rose to an unusual proportion in many areas. On Tuesday 15 January 2019 at 14.00, Air Quality Index still showed Bangkok as unhealthy, with PM 2.5, dust particles that cause respiratory problems, remain as high as 153. This causes Bangkok to become the global ninth in terms of unhealthiness, competing with Dubai and Mumbai.
The government has not been very effective in dealing with the trouble, relying on temporary solutions to what seems to be a long-term problem instead of tackling the structural issues at its root. To clear up the dust, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration called in fire trucks and water trucks to spray water into the air around critical areas, such as Lumphini Park. It should be noted that such attempts were made, especially at the air quality monitoring stations. The BMA also said that they will increase the frequency of spraying water and cleaning the roads around the city. Meanwhile, the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation has launched an operation to create artificial rain over the city, hoping that the rain will help improve the situation.
Urban pollution issues are not unique to Bangkok. Many big cities around the world also face similar problems, most likely a result of the use of fossil fuel releasing pollutants into the air, such as from car emission. These cities employ car control measures in order to keep the pollution level down. In London, there are fees for driving in the city centre, while its extensive bus and rail network renders the use of a private car in Central London unnecessary in most cases. The city also has plans to phase out its diesel double-decker buses, replacing them with electric ones, and will require any new taxi to be zero emission in order to be licensed. Paris, like many other European cities, designated many inner-city districts car-free zones, and plans to ban all petrol vehicles by 2030. China, also facing its own smog issues in its major cities like Beijing, is tackling the sources of pollution, limiting the use of coal and controlling construction dust.
Meanwhile, in Bangkok, the public are on self-help mode, relying on air quality monitoring applications and social media for information. People flock to pharmacies in search of N95 masks, which the internet has informed them is the only way of protecting themselves from PM2.5 dust. The demand has since far outweigh the supply, and N95 masks are nowhere to be found in the market, except in online stores. While the population of Seoul received official emergency alerts as its own smog level rose earlier this week, people in Bangkok are relying on Facebook posts and messages from friends and family. The government seems to see the smog as a temporary issue, hoping that their daily measures will solve the problem without them having to tackle any of the underlying structural issues. Not only that it lacks an effective administration, Bangkok’s public transport system also can no longer support the size of its population as the city grows too large for its current infrastructure. Any campaign to reduce car use therefore cannot become a reality.
All people can do now is to pray with sarcasm. On Facebook sees a mantra to chase the dust away, written in Bali-Sankrit language. The post has gone viral with a thousand of likes and shares. On 10th January 2019 at 9.00, Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister of Thailand, said that prayer works to fight Pabuk Storm. To pushover his claim, netizens arrange an event on Facebook to pray dust away for health - now with almost 3,000 participants who click join. Some of them may be true desperate believers, but prayer here is also a way of expressing defiance and sarcastic message: the government has become so ineffective that relying on a prayer is better than asking for help from it.News
We Watch (Youth Network for Election Watch and Democracy), a nonprofit organization aimed to promote people's political participation, hold a survey about youth's role in the upcoming election.
With 1,118 samples and 3 months of data collection from September - December 2018, information will be used for promoting political participation.Infographic2019 general election
On 7th January 2019, Pangpond, a guy who reviews stuff on his Facebook page, Pangpond on Tour, posted a series of pictures and captions of himself rehearsing for the election.
His post says:
“Please let me rehearse how to vote!
As the election is becoming a hot trend now, Pangpond requests permission to prepare for the upcoming election! Which brings you to rehearse and review how to vote!!! People like us have been away from it for quite some time, so we may have forgotten about some of it. You guys want to vote for some party or person in this election but have forgotten how to do it, so let’s get started!”
Now, these are his pictures and captions:
“Step 1: Get out of the house with determination with your ID card ready. When you get in front of the polling station, check your name and number on the list of eligible voters. “
“Next Step: When you’ve found your name, then hand your ID card and sign the voters’ list.”
(Throws ID card at the official) “Hand it in!”
“Next Step: Request permission to ‘press the like button’ on the ink pad."
“You have to press hard so your thumb goes deep into it. If you are not hard enough, the official will help you. #Love #DoesntChooseTimetoHappen #ItWillTakeNotTooLong” (The last hashtag is part of the lyrics of a propaganda song written by the military government.
“Then you will get a ‘red like button’ like this.”
“Like him! #Please don’t let me censor eyes because the official closed his.”
“Like me too!”
“Next is entering the poll booth. #VeryExcited”
(Using a menu stolen from a restaurant as a ballot)
“Mark ‘X’ for the party and candidate that you like. For me, I would pick #ChineseKale”
[The Thai word is phak khana but it is spelled here with the Thai word for ‘party’, also pronounced ‘phak’]
“Anyone who wants #CabbageParty or heart or entrails party, they are all delicious.”
“Next, fold the ballot paper properly.”
“Fold it tight. #Don’t Let Others See It”
“Next Step: Put your ballot paper in the ballot box.”
“Please let me feel passionate! The path to democracy is in our hands!”
“Don’t delay please. I want to vote. … PS. Thanks to Yot Duck Noodles, Soi Aree Samphan, for the set, even though the owner knows nothing about it.”
It is sad that election is delayed, but it is good that we have to chance to rehearse it.News
On Sunday 13 January 2019, another protest in Bangkok happen in the Ratchaprasong area of Bangkok and different provinces in Thailand, including Ubonratchathani and Chiang Rai. This is the third protest in Bangkok after the NCPO revoked the legal measures to suppress people's freedom of expression.
Protest at Ratchaprasong
Source: Resistant Citizen
At 15.00, Ekkachai Honggangwan, along with 10 protesters, arrived early at Ratchaprasong to show ‘No Election Delay’ and ’24 Feb Election’ sign in Thai and Chinese.
At 17.30, Sirawith Serithiwat, a representive from People Calling for Election, read a statement: ‘No delay. No cancellation. No extra time.’
Here is the English translation of the full statement:
“Today we run out of patience for lying, attempted excuses, and aspersion, to censor media and people calling for fundamental rights of citizens. This is our ultimatum to NCPO Government:
- No delay: election must happen no later than 10 March 2019. Or else, the ECT will not be able to announce election result within 150 days after Additional Act to the Constitution on Election of Representatives has been announced on 11th December 2018. This will make the election against the constitution and thus invalid.
- No cancellation: they must not cancel election by tricks, excuses, or legal technicalities – not like they are attempting do to now and will do in the future.
- No extra-time: no more extra-time to remain in power through the constitution written for their advantage, in forms of using 250 votes from appointed senates to support the status quo, using government’s absolute power to waste budget on rotating bureaucrats around without scrutiny during election campaign, and discrimination by favoring their own political party to remain in power. These are all election frauds.
Protest at Ratchaprasong
Source: Resistant Citizen
In the evening, Winthai Suwaree, Speaker of NCPO, made a statement that the majority of people follow the election news with judgement, understand the situation well, and willing to create atmosphere of “rejoice” to celebrate election and the auspicious coronation. Discrediting the protest as “a job category already”, Winthai claimed that they do not understand the bigger context.
“The movement has implication of criticism with negative attitudes. This is not quite a democratic expression or socially constructive. People Calling For Election are more verbally abusive recently, especially when they raise an issue about democracy and push others to the opposite. This may reflect their maturity in terms of democracy that is lacking,” Winthai said.
Apirat Kongsompong, Thai Army Chief, also said that pro-election rallies are inciting “chaos”, according to Khaosod English. “There are people like this in Thai society. I don’t know what to say … they want chaos. … I think those who understand are irritated, Apirat said. “There are people who want to lead a normal life and make a living.”
In the previous demonstrations, the protesters fully cooperated with the police. As the protesters were dissolving itself this time, the police came in asking to seize the audio amplifier, claiming that the noise are above the standard. The protester leaders were asking for a warrant, but the police declined to show it. As the two sides were still negotiating, the police was blocking the protesters to go home, but the situation has now dissolved.
Meanwhile, a demonstration gathered in Chiang Rai and Ubon Ratchathani. At 17.00, Sombat Boonngamanong, a prominent Thai activist, joined the protest in Chiang Rai. “I have taken back my bank account from the authority. Next, we will take back democracy – that’s a big account, said Sombat Boonngamanong in a soft tone. “Please deliver what you promised. This is the sixth election delay - breaks the world record already. Please don’t make it more difficult for other countries to compete.”
Protest in Chiang Rai
Source: Sombat Boonngamanong
At 18.00 Thapanapong Manmai, a law student, Ubon Ratchathani University, said to Matichon Online, that time is up for the military as the government stays for far too long and proves to be ineffective. The villagers share the same voice calling for election and democracy so that the nation can develop to meet the international standard, he said. The protest in Ubon Ratchathani at Thung Sri Muang Park spent one hour to demonstrate with security check from the police, and then dissolved.
Protest in Ubon Ratchathani
Source: Matichon OnlineNews
Following an international campaign to stop her deportation and an intervention by UNHCR, Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been granted refugee status and has arrived in Canada earlier today.
Rahaf is welcomed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport by Chrystia Freeland (right), the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, had fled domestic abuse from Saudi Arabia. She arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Sunday (5 January) night, originally en route to Australia, where she intended to seek asylum. She was then stopped in Bangkok, reportedly by Saudi diplomats. Realising that she was going to be forced to board a Kuwait Airlines flight so that she may be returned to her family, Rahaf barricaded herself inside an airport hotel room and tweeted about her situation. The hashtag #SaveRahaf trended globally overnight, sparking an international social media campaign and appeals from human rights groups to stop Thai authorities from deporting her to Saudi Arabia, where she would not only be subjected to further domestic abuse but would also be prosecuted for renouncing Islam – a crime punishable by death under Saudi laws.
On Monday (7 January) evening, after the Thai authorities had a change of heart, representatives from UNHCR was finally allowed to see Rahaf. She was taken out of the airport on Monday night and remained in the care of UNHCR while her case is assessed. In a surprising turn of events, Rahaf is now on her way to Canada. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, confirmed that Canada has granted her asylum. He told BBC that, despite strained relationship with Saudi Arabia, “Canada has been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world. When the UN made a request of us that we grant Ms al-Qunun asylum, we accepted.” Rahaf's Twitter account, which was temporarily deactivated due to the amount of death threats she was receiving, confirmed that she is now on a flight, and said that she wants to "share the moment of [her] arrival to Canada with you.” She left Bangkok late on Friday (11 January) night, and has now arrived in Canada. Al Jazeera reported that she was welcomed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport by Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, who said that Rahaf "is a very brave new Canadian." Freeland also said that the decision to accept Rahaf's asylum request was part of Canada's "policy of supporting women and girls around the world."
"It's obvious that the oppression of women is not a problem that can be resolved in a day, but rather than cursing the darkness we believe in lighting a single candle," she said. "Where we can save a single woman, a single person that's a good thing to do."
Rahaf’s resettlement to Canada came as a surprise to Australian officials, said ABC reporter Sophie McNeil on her Twitter account. Marise Payne, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, confirmed at a press conference on Thursday (10 January) that the UN referred Rahaf’s case to Australia and that her application is being processed. However, McNeil, who has been an advocate for Rahaf from the beginning, said that Rahaf went to the Australian Embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday, but the process was taking a long time and it was not ideal security-wise for her to stay too long in Bangkok. The UN then turned to Canada, who completed Rahaf’s visa process within one day.
"Refugee protection today is often under threat and cannot always be assured, but in this instance international refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed", said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. However, Thailand has, for quite some time now, been the subject of international criticism for its problematic treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. The kingdom is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 3 of which prohibits the return of a person to a state where they would be in danger of being subjected to torture or other serious human rights violations. The principle of non-refoulement is also recognised as part of customary international law. Nevertheless, the Thai authorities have, on numerous occasions, returned asylum seekers to countries in which they would be in danger.
"Refugee protection today is often under threat and cannot always be assured, but in this instance international refugee law and overriding values of humanity have prevailed."
Rahaf’s story has brought attention to another asylum seeker also detained in Bangkok and threatened with deportation. In December 2018, acting on a disputed Interpol red notice issued by Bahrain, the Thai authorities arrested Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Mr al-Arabi is a recognized refugee and was traveling on refugee travel documents issued by Australia, where he was granted permanent residency.
Currently, Mr al-Araibi is still in detention and face an even greater threat of being returned to Bahrain, where he would face imprisonment, torture, and other serious human rights violations. Australian officials are reportedly working closely with the relevant agencies on his case, but it is still unclear whether he would be released.NewsRahaf Mohammed al-Qunun
After the decision by Bangkok Christian College to let students choose what to wear every Tuesday, Ministry of Education (MOE) officials have tried to halt the experiment and stop other schools from copying it even though the rules say it is OK.
The Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) has sent an official letter to Bangkok Christian College, a famous private school, asking it to review its initiative. Mr. Chalam Attatham, Secretary-General of OPEC, said that OPEC is worried about discipline, orderliness, the expense for parents, teachers’ responsibility, the Thai social context and social problems that might arise.
“Bangkok Christian College must consult its board and report back to the Ministry of Education, because what students can wear in private schools still comes under the 2008 MOE Uniform Rules. We understand that the school’s executive team and teachers have consulted each other and want to do research on student uniforms for 6 weeks, but we want them to look deeper than that into what effects it will have during the experiment. After all, the MOE, if anything happens, has to reconsider this. If other private schools want to do anything, they should think carefully about the consequences of their actions. A school board has to be strong about this,” said Mr. Chalam.
In response, College Director Mr. Suphakit Jitklongsub accepted that he feels uneasy. “If it ends, it ends, and I think it’s not a big deal. At least it shows us the state of society at this hour and our readiness to go along with each other when we have different ideas. We may not able to reach that point.” However, he will continue with the initiative while discussing it with parents and students following the instructions from the MOE.
There have also been responses on the internet. The dinosaur in this cartoon says “Get back in your uniforms - now!”
Even though several sources characterize the development as “hopeless,” it seems that there is hope. The MOE’s 2008 Uniform Rules, applying to all public and private schools in Thailand, does open the possibility of non-uniform schools in Thailand. Article 14 of the Rule says “Any educational institution that intends to use a uniform other than specified in these Rules must ask for permission from the director at the next superior level or the person responsible for that educational institution, as the case may be."
Article 15 adds “Any educational institution that determines that students shall wear boy scout uniforms, girl scout uniforms, red cross uniforms, cadet uniforms, or indigenous clothing, Thai clothing, casual dress, training clothes, sportswear, performance costumes or any clothing other than regulation school uniforms on any day may do so by considering thriftiness and appropriateness.” This fact has also been echoed by the Director of Bangkok Christian University.
Mr. Amporn Pinasa, Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), responsible for public schools in Thailand, took a defensive tone, stating that under the 2008 Uniform Rules, public schools cannot allow students not to wear uniforms. However, Mr. Amporn confirmed that sports clothes and local costumes are allowed but schools have to make a request to the Provincial Education Office.
Education Minister Dr. Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said that he understood the intentions of Bangkok Christian, and that the MOE would not intervene. “Wearing uniforms and studying must be kept separate. The reason we must have uniforms is because wearing uniforms is a matter of tradition and culture since the time of Rama V, who said that apart from setting discipline, having student uniforms narrows the gap between the rich and the poor.”
The equality argument has been challenged. Pakin Nimmannorawong, a social science teacher at Kamnoetvidya Science Academy in Rayong, told Prachatai that uniforms just hide inequality under the rug. “We have to separate uniformity and equality. It is sad that we like to hide it rather than talking about it. While we focus on uniforms, we forget that content about inequality is almost non-existent in the MOE’s curriculum. We forget that, in terms of budget and staffing, inequality between rural and urban schools is extremely high. We also forget that in rural schools, their libraries haven’t been updated for a decade or more. This is the inequality that we are not talking about.”
Although Bangkok Christian College started its experiment just a few days ago, Thammasat University Demonstration School has been doing it for two years now. The Dean of the Faculty of Learning Sciences and Education, Thammasat University, revealed to Thai PBS that having no uniform is a learning process that creates democracy in the school. Students learn to tolerate differences with understanding. “Throughout the 2 years, nobody has worn extravagant clothing or wasted their parents’ money. This collapses the old educational framework where educational rules are likely to be mandated by policy makers or people in power,” according to a reporter from Thai PBS.Newsstudent uniform
Under the principals of a parliamentary democracy, an “outsider” Prime Minister is a Prime Minister who is not a Member of Parliament.
In principal, a Prime Minister should be elected, since the “election of representatives” is the starting point of the contract between those who hold power and those to whom they delegate that power. Thus, the process of recruitment and selection of persons who will hold political positions is a measure that controls the relation between the people and their representatives, both ex ante and ex post, through an institutional monitoring mechanism, as well as public monitoring channels to make sure that the representatives show themselves accountable to the public who elected them.
Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee
It is therefore important to have an election process which allows the public to express their true needs, in order to build a relation between the people and their potential representatives and to prevent any hidden action by those who are delegated with authority which deviates from the intention of the people who hold democratic power.
The problem of the election system under the 2017 Constitution is that, even though the list of prime ministerial candidates will be made public in advance, implying that this Prime Minister will have been approved by the people, the chain of this approval is not straightforward.
The connection between voters and a potential Prime Minister is weakened in three ways.
1. How are we to be sure that a cross on the ballot paper is approval of a prime ministerial candidate? It could in fact mean that voters are only choosing the candidate in their constituency whose work in the area has won popular support, but they do not like the party or the proposed prime ministerial candidates.
2. In the case that voters make their decision because they want to support a potential prime minister, how are they to know for which proposed candidate, out of the three that a party can propose, their vote will support? For example, during their campaign, Party A may propose Mr Smith as a prime ministerial candidate, but after the election, the party may propose the name of Ms Jones to parliament as their first-choice candidate.
3. When combined with the requirement that the 250 senators appointed by the NCPO (in the first five years) will also be voting for the Prime Minister from the names proposed by parties, the link between the people and the Prime Minister becomes even more remote.
If the 250 senators all vote for a candidate proposed by a political party, that candidate will need only 126 more votes from the lower house, whose members are elected. This is equal to about 9.5 million votes out of 50 million eligible voters.
For these reasons, I believe that even though the constitution dictates that a party can propose three candidates, and the list of potential prime ministers will be made public, this will not legitimize the person selected as Prime Minister unless that person has been elected as a member of parliament by constituency or party list.
Do not fall into a trap when they tell you that the names of the prime ministerial candidates will be made known to the public.
Allow me to end with a little bit of history: the 1974 Constitution was the first time a Prime Minister had to be a member of parliament. This requirement remained when the 1991 Constitution was amended on 12 September 1992. And this was the case for the 2007 constitution, until it was repealed on 22 May 2014. The 2017 Constitution no longer requires the Prime Minister to be selected from among members of parliament.
Translated from “นายกรัฐมนตรีคนนอก” คือ นายกรัฐมนตรีที่ไม่ได้มาจากการเลือกตั้งของประชาชน. First published on Prachatai, 12 December 2018OpinionSiripan Nogsuan Sawasdee2019 general election
Senator Marise Payne, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said at the press conference this afternoon that Australia is concerned about Thai authority’s detention and possible extradition of Hakeem al-Araibi and that Australia is working with relevant authorities on both the cases of Mr al-Araibi and of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun.
The press conference, held at the Embassy of Australia in Bangkok at 14:15 on 10 January 2019, is part of a planned visit in which Senator Payne met with Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Don Pramudwinai and deputy prime minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong to sign an MOU on cyber security and digital cooperation. She also discussed Thailand’s 2019 chairmanship of the ASEAN.
Senator Payne also said that she has the opportunity to “raise Australia’s concerns” with the Thai government about the detention of Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who has been given refugee status by the UN and was granted permanent residency by the Australian government. Senator Payne said that Australia is “very concerned about any potential for return of Mr al-Araibi to Bahrain.” Acting on a disputed Interpol red notice issued by Bahrain, Thai authority arrested Mr al-Araibi while he was traveling with his family. He has now been in detention for over 40 days and is faced with a potential deportation to Bahrain, where he will most likely face imprisonment and suffer serious human rights violations. Senator Payne said that Mr al-Araibi has been visited by embassy officials on several occasions, and that Australia will “continue to be in very close contact” with the Thai authority on Mr al-Araibi’s case.
She also “acknowledge the constructive way” in which Thailand has referred 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun to UNHCR. Ms Mohammed al-Qunun has been given refugee status by UNHCR, following an international social media campaign and appeals from human rights groups to stop Thai authority from deporting her back to Saudi Arabia, from where she had fled domestic abuse and prosecution for renouncing Islam. Senator Payne said that UNHCR has referred Rahaf’s case to Australian authority, and that the required assessment process is now underway. However, she declined to comment whether Australia had cancelled Rahaf’s visitor visa while she was detained at Suvarnabhumi Airport. She also gave no timeframe as to when Rahaf’s case will be settled, or and did not say whether Rahaf will be traveling to Australia while she awaits decision on her asylum claim.NewsMarise PayneRahaf Mohammed al-QununHakeem al-Araibi
Assistant Professor Vinai Poncharoen, lecturer at the College of Politics and Governance, Mahasarakham University, was attacked on Facebook by Major General Rienthong Naenna, after posting a message on his personal profile supporting the upcoming general election.
Vinai posted on his Facebook profile, asking “who plays a part in delaying the election? Remember that the will of the people is more important than any ceremony.” At 19:48 on 8 January, Maj. Gen. Rienthong then posted on his Facebook, asking Vinai to clarify what he meant by “ceremony” and implying that there will be repercussions to Vinai’s action, even though he won’t be employing Article 112.
At 9:06 on 9 Janaury Maj. Gen. Rienthong made another post calling for the authority to take action against Vinai for “undermining the monarchy.” He also called for Maharasakham University to remove Vinai from his position as lecturer.
Vinai told Prachatai that he has closed his Facebook account to keep the matter from escalating any further. However, other than Maj. Gen. Rienthong’s post, he has yet to receive any other threats from government officials or university personels and students. Vinai said that he is happy to discuss the issue with Maj. Gen. Rienthong or with university executives if they would like to meet him. He said that he made the post because he disagrees with the government delaying the election so far. As for Maj. Gen. Rienthong’s movement, Vinai does not believe that the general is using the monarchy as a political tool, but that he is expressing his loyalty to the monarchy in an ill-judged manner.NewsVinai PoncharoenFacebook threatRienthong Naenna
Dear Thai people
Since 2014 Thailand has been under the power of a military junta called the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Prior to the coup d’état, the military junta had conspired with an undemocratic group to destroy the democracy without regard to the rule of law, claiming the takeover was in the name of unity. Without any justification for its power, the junta has been extensively violating human rights, ignoring the well-being of Thai citizens, and damaging the economy for the benefit of its crony. Not only did these actions degrade our reputation, honor and dignity, but they also disconnect Thailand from the global community. Thailand has lost its chance to improve its prosperity as the head of the junta is incompetent at negotiating bilateral deals with his counterparts. As a result, benefits are spread only to a handful of rapacious capitalists, enabling them to slowly devour Thai economy.
As of now, Thailand will hold a general election on 24th February 2019. Despite the denouncement of the junta’s orders (Order 22/2561) so as to create “an atmosphere of election”, the situation remains the same. Many civilians are being harassed by the authoritarian regime for exposing its corruption. Election frauds of pro-military parties are widespread thanks to the negligence of the Election Commission of Thailand. Buying votes through the public expenditure for junta-affiliated party is practiced on a regular basis while citizens who spoke up were harassed by the authorities. All in all, the junta’s fear of losing its power has been shown through misconducts of public expenditure to “legally” buy votes for junta-affiliated party, election frauds, abuses of power, as well as harassment of civilians.
The junta’s ongoing abuses of power connotes the government’s flagrant determination to maintain its power. A free and fair election cannot thus be guaranteed. The fact that the junta group, together with the cabinet, is not taking a neutral position is deteriorating the electoral situation. The government has been instilling fear and seeking its own advantage to deviate the election result. Therefore, regarding the upcoming election, we hereby put forward our demands as follows:
1) We call for immediate revocation of Article 44 in the temporary constitution of Thailand.
2) The military government must stop using the public expenditure through economic policies that orchestrate with the NCPO circle and allow the public and other organizations to monitor the government.
3) The military government must stop intervening independent organizations under the constitution, especially the Election Commission and special administrative organizations which benefit the NCPO circle.
4) The ministers in the junta cabinet including the Minister of Industry, the Minister of the Prime Minister Office, the Minister of Science and Technology, and the Minister of Commerce must resign immediately after joining the political party named “PhalangPracharat” and be transferred to the interim cabinet.
5) The military government must allow international organizations, NGOs, and civil society to freely observe the election.
Network of Thai students and International scholars in Taiwan for Democracy in ThailandPick to Post
With two bottles in their hands and the sound of Queen's "We Will Rock You" beat drum, protesters gathered at BTS Skywalk in Ratchaprasong Area and marched around Central World, a famous department stores in Bangkok, to demonstrate against the election delay.
At 17.15 at the BTS Skywalk, after gathering, there is one man come into the middle of the protest heard saying "bored of election, " causing a little of chaos in the area. However, the tight situation dissolves in no time as protesters organize themselves to avoid commotion.
At the start of the march, Sirawith Serithiwat, said that now the movement is growing in every region of Thailand as there has been demonstrations in different provinces, including Ayutthaya, Nakorn Ratchaseema, there will be in Chiangmai tomorrow and Pattaya on 12th January.
"Election can go along with the Coronation." Says Anon Kampa as the demonstration marches from Ratchaprasong's Sky walk to Central World. "I think it is just the excuse of NCPO to delay it. "
Prachatai has a chance to meet with Asst Prof Pandit Chanrochanakit, from Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, observing the protest in the area. "This is the second protest in Bangkok after NCPO unlock legal measures to supress people's freedom expression. And now we see a lot of unfamiliar faces in the demonstration." Asst Prof Pandit told Prachatai English. "What we have to see is what NCPO will do after this."
The police officers come to take care of the situation, arranging the shape of the crowd so that the ordinary people can walk in the area comfortably. The protesters cooperate fully and willingly.
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a public figure, told Prachatai that the demonstration gets better feedback than expected. However, what needs to be done for the movement is to throw possible scenarios into the table and prepare for the next step no matter what NCPO will respond.
Nattha Mahatthana said to the demonstrators that she believe the delay has nothing to do with the coronation or the monarchy, but is about the NCPO finding excuses to stay in power. She said that if the election is held after 11 March, the Election Commission would not be able to announce the results by 9 May. Her concern is that, if anyone were to file a complaint with the constitutional court, and the court decides that the Commission fails to organize the election within 150 days as the constitution dictates, the election results may be made invalid. If that is the case, the NCPO would no longer be under any legal obligation to hold an election and could continue to stay in power.Newsdemocracydemonstration2019 general election
Even though wearing a uniform to school is now obsolete in the majority of developed countries, this issue is still subjected to serious discussion in Thailand. Emerging from this debate is Bangkok Christian College launching an initiative to allow students to choose what to wear by themselves.
On 8th January 2019 sees the first day of students wearing casual dress and mascot costumes to school as they put smile on their face, creating a pleasing landscape throughout the school.
After a decade of discussions, and based on research in foreign countries that wearing casual dress can relieve stress and promote confidence in students, Bangkok Christian College, one of the oldest protestant school in Thailand, will explore the initiative to let students wear freely for one term. If decline is found in overall academic performance, such initiative will be terminated.
Supakij Jitklongsup, the Director of Bangkok Christian College, reveals that change in the rule comes from an intention to make students happy, creative, and to show that individual diversities can live together.
According to the Ministry of Education, the 2008 Uniform Rule set the standard of uniform for different levels of education to certain extent, but ultimately, the school can diverge from it if they see appropriate.
While conservatives claim uniform is social equalizer, a preventer of distraction from learning, and a container of nostalgic experiences after graduation, liberals in Thailand argue it only puts inequality under the rug as it oppresses diversity, creativity, and right to take care of their own bodies.NewseducationThai educationstudent uniform
Department of Provincial Administration issued a circular letter to provincial registrars yesterday telling them to pause their preparation for the upcoming general election, as the Election Commission says royal decree has not been issued.
The above letter was issued by the Department of Provincial Administration and signed by Veenus Srisuk, deputy director of the central registration office. It was sent to local registrars and the Bangkok registrar yesterday, on 7 January 2019. Following a previously issued letter informing local register offices to start preparation for the upcoming 2019 general election, the Department of Provincial Administration now asks local administrators not to go forward with the planned preparation until informed otherwise, as the Election Commission has informed the Department that the royal decree for a general election has not yet been issued.
On 4 Janaury 2019, Thairath Online reported that Itthiporn Boonprakong, Chairman of the Election Commission, said that the Commission was informed of the details regarding the preparation for King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation and other related activities by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam. Mr Bookprakong also said that the Election Commission, along with the Office of the Election Commission, are fully prepared to organize the general election, and that they will set a date once the royal decree calling for a general election has been issued.
Earlier today, Channel 7 news reported that General Anupong Paochinda, Minister of Interior, said that there is no hidden implication to the circular letter. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for civil registration and therefore is responsible for preparing a list of eligible voters, organize polling booths, and informing heads of household. As the Ministry has been informed that the royal decree for general election has not been issued as previously planned, the preparation has to be deferred, Gen. Paochinda said.
The 2019 general election was at first provisionally set for 24 February 2019 after having been postponed on several occasions. After a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam and the Election Commission on 3 January, it has been delayed even further. So far, no new date has been announced. Meanwhile, demonstrations are being held calling for the government to honour their promise.News
Rahaf Alqunun, Khaosod English reported, is now safe with help of UN, after UN representatives were allowed to meet with her in the late afternoon.
Resulting from negotiation with Thai authorities, the immigration allows her to leave the airport and stay in accommodations in Thailand under the protection of UN.
The immigration head, Lt. Gen. Surachate 'Big Joke' Hakparn, said it will take 5 days for UNHCR to find a country to accept her.
“She has left the airport with the UN,” Surachate said to Khaosod. “She’s not being held by the immigration any longer.”NewsRahaf Mohammed al-Qunun
Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, a Saudi national, has fled from her family due to her being forced into marriage and being subject to egregious physical and mental abuse. En route to her asylum in Australia, she has made a stop at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. While awaiting a connecting flight, someone who claimed to have come from the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Thailand with another individual who claimed to have come from the Kuwait Airlines, have approached her and held her in custody in a room at the Miracle Transit Hotel inside the Suvarnabhumi Airport. All of her personal documents including passport and plane tickets have been seized and she was prevented from boarding the flight to Australia. Currently, she is still held in custody inside the hotel’s room.
Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun has informed an attorney who offered to help her that it was not her intent to travel to either Kuwait or Saudi Arabia and being deported there would make her vulnerable to fatal risks due to her different religious belief and theirs.
The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) find holding Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun in Rahaf in custody is tantamount to a breach of her right to liberty and personal safety, a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand BE 2560’s Section 28. The circumstance involving the deprivation of her liberty could also be tantamount to an arbitrary and unlawful detention since until now Ms. Rahaf has not committed an offence against our domestic law while awaiting her connecting flight to a third country.
An attempt by Thailand via the Immigration Bureau to deport Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun who is seeking an asylum given her fleeing from a grave and imminent risk as a result of her refusing to marry and as a result of a religious belief is an act not in compliance with human rights standards, particularly in light of the right to freedom of religion and belief, the right to not be forced into marriage without one’s consent and the right to seek asylum in other countries to flee from persecution. Such rights are guaranteed as indispensable human rights and enshrined in various international human rights treaties including the Universal Declaration for Human rights (UDHR) and the aforementioned ICCPR. By making her vulnerable to persecution is also prohibited by the Non-Refoulement principle, which has been accepted as part of the international customary law. It demands that an asylum seeker not be repatriated or deported or evicted or extradited to another state, should there be a reasonable belief that she or he shall be subject to persecution.
HRLA and CrCF therefore demand the following;
1. Those involved with the judicial process, particularly the Court, should conduct a review into the deprivation of liberty of Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun and to immediately have her released from custody.
2. The Thai government shall refrain from and shall not acquiesce to the deportation of Ms. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, the act of which shall make her vulnerable to persecution in her country of origin. And she should be allowed to travel on to Australia as wished.
With respect in human rights and human dignity
Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)Pick to PostRahaf Mohammed al-QununCross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
After overwhelming support for 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, Thai authority has apparently changed direction. Major General Surachate Hakcharn said around 4PM today that Thailand will no longer try to deport her against her will, saying that “we won’t send someone to their death.” He also announced that representatives from UNHCR will be able to meet with her at 5PM.
Ms Mohammed al-Qunun said she was fleeing abuse from her family and fear that she will be in grave danger if she returns to Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, along with other right groups and International news agency are calling for Thai officials to allow her to travel to Australia instead of repatriating her. She was finally allowed to speak to UNHCR representatives around 6 PM. Melissa Fleming, UNHCR Chief of Communications, said on her Twitter account that UNHCR Bangkok Protection Team is, as of 6.24 PM, interviewing Rahaf to assess her need for international protection and to find a solution. However, Ms Fleming said that, for reasons of confidentiality and protection, UNHCR will not be in a position to comment about the meeting or the outcome.
Thailand had not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and therefore does not recognize the position of refugees, but is a party to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Thus, it has an obligation not to return anyone to a territory where they face a risk of being subjected to torture or other threats of serious human rights violation. The country has been the subject of international criticism as it has, on several occasions, repatriated refugees and asylum seekers to their countries of origin, where their rights and safety are threatened. In 2015, Thailand reportedly deported Chinese activists Jiang Yefei and Dong Guangping, who are registered as refugees by the UN, back to China. In December 2018, Thai authority also retained footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, a Bahraini refugee living in Australia, while he was traveling in Thailand with his family, and threatened to deport him back to Bahrain, the country from which he fled and was granted refugee status.NewsRahaf Mohammed al-QununMelissa FlemingUNHCRMajor General Surachate HakcharnRefugee
A legal office filed a pro-bono case to help Rahaf Alqunan Mohamed out of detention. However, the court dismisses to take the case due to inadequacy of evidence.
On 7th January 2019, NSP Legal Office and the Human Rights Lawyer Association, with support from Human Rights Watch, filed a pro-bono lawsuit through the Thai Criminal Court against unlawful detention of Rahaf Alqunan Mohamed conducted by alleged Saudi officials.
NSP Legal Office states that on 5th January 2019 Alqunan Mohamed took a flight to Australia, using Suvarnabhumi Airport as a transit. However, people claiming to be from Saudi Embassy and Kuwait Airline made an appearance and suspend her travel. They also took her into a hotel in the airport’s area.
As Alqunader protection of CERD (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination), said NSP Legal Office in its facebook post.
Requesting for her to travel to Australia, her desired destination, safe and sound, the lawyers invokes Article 90 in Criminal Procedure Code which states about unlawful detention and posits that the case should be on trial.
However, the Criminal Court dismisses to take the case claiming inadequacy of evidence as identities of Saudi officials remained unclear. Meanwhile, Samah Hadid, Amnesty’s Middle East Director of Campaigns said:“The Thai authorities are bound by the general prohibition not to transfer persons to any place where they would face a real risk of serious human rights abuses.”NewsRahaf Mohammed al-Qununcriminal courtNSP Legal Office