ԴЪҸԻ (English)
May 2003 : October 14 to be Democracy Day

The Parliament voted to designate October 14 as Democracy Day and honor the popular uprising event in 1973 in school curriculum. The Senate passed two Telecom Excise Tax Executive Decrees while five ministers received confidential votes in the House. Criminal Bill on Fatal Injection will be soon enacted and the Senate approved draft bills on elderly people and police search on child labor health and safety. The House passed a draft bill on criminal investigation fund.

The NCCC selection panel nominated two candidates to be finalized by the Senate while the Prime Minister Office appointed new 17 members of the National Telecommunication Committee. Last but not least, Senate Speaker Manoonkrit Roopkachorn announced his resignation effective on January 4.

October 14 to be Democracy Day

Both legislative branches of the Parliament unanimously voted to designate October 14 as Democracy Day, marking the importance of the popular uprising that occurred on that date in 1973. The history of which scores of students and civilians lost their lives in Thammasart University where military suppression took place will be honored in school curriculum.

The issue was submitted to the Parliament by Thai Rak Thai MP Charnchai Chairungreung, Democrat MP Anek Lowthammatat, Chart Pattana MP Vuthichai Sanguanwongchai and Chart Thai MP Saksiam Chidchop.

Telecom Excise passed

The Senate voted 85 to 50 and 90 to 47 to pass the two executive decrees on telecom excise tax which will be enforced upon the Kings endorsement by royal signature. The principle is to change method of revenue sharing between state and private operator from concession royalty to tax, maximum 50 percent.

The decrees were submitted for cabinet approval in January by Ministry of Information and Communication Technology as part of the telecom concession-conversion regime which aims to liberalize the telecom market in 2006 according to Thailands commitments to World Trade Organization.

A group of scholars, NGOs, senators and opposition party MPs protested that the decrees were unconstitutional to article 218 on ground that the decree-which requires no prior parliamentary approval- could be issued only in case of emergency or benefit to public economy and security. Furthermore, implementation of telecom excise tax will benefit telecom operators, particularly Shinawatra Group owns by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The opposition party 113 MPs submitted the issue, through the Senate speaker, to the Constitution Court to rule whether the two decrees are constitutional or not. On May 1, Constitution Court voted 8 to 6 in favor and gave reason that the decrees were relevant to national economy since higher revenue will be gained.

Upon deliberation, the House approved and forwarded to the Senate which voted to pass the telecom excise executive decrees.

Confidential vote for 5 ministers

Regards to the opposition party launched a no-confidential debate against five ministers, the House censure debate was set on May 28-29 and voted on May 30.

The main focus of debate for each minister was as follow:
  1. Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreaungkit, delay in construction of Suwanabhumi Airport and bid-fixing, alleged irregularities in involving certain road projects.
  2. Agriculture Minister Sora-at Klinpratum, delay in investigation into alleged irregularities involving certain senior ministerial officials.
  3. Commerce Minister Adisai Bodharamik, alleged inability to solve the problem of corruption involving government price-pledging projects for farm produce.
  4. Education Minister Pongpol Adireksarn, delay in education reform, especially the implementation of a 12-year compulsory schooling program, renaming of a school to include his surname.
  5. Information Technology and Communication Minister Surapong Suebwonglee, issuance of executive decree to impose excise on the telecommunication industry which is viewed as beneficial to telecom business, particularly the prime ministers family business interest.


Voting results were as follow:
  1. Suriya Jungrungreaunkit: confidence 357, no confidence 125, abstentions 5.
  2. Sora-at Klinpratum: confidence 359 no confidence 126, abstentions 5.
  3. Adisai Bodharamik: confidence 359, no confidence 126, abstentions 5
  4. Pongpol Adireksarn: confidence 357, no confidence 125, abstentions 5. , no vote 1
  5. Surapong Suebwonglee: confidence 358, no confidence 125, abstentions 5.


The opoosition party, furthermore, submitted a petition to the senate speaker to impeach Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreaungkit in regard to article 185, 186, 303 and 304 of the Constitution on allegation of corruption indication in the Suwanabhumi Airport and Toll-way fee. The Senate will submit the case to the National Counter Corruption Commission [ NCCC] for further investigation.

Enactment of fatal injection bill

The draft amendment bill on criminal code which main principle is on execution of fatal injection to replace firing squad has passed the Senate on May 9 with 87 to 6 votes and will be enforced soon. The bill also bans capital punishment and life imprisonment for convicts younger than 18. They will be subjected to a maximum of no more than a 50-year jail term.

After being enforced, the Justice Ministry will issue regulations and code of conducts to comply with the principle.

Draft bill on elderly people bill.

The Senate unanimously passed a draft bill offering tax deductions to people financially supporting their parents aged 60 and over and/or give donation to the elderly people fund. The bill also include discounted or free entry at public tourist attractions around the country.

Occupational Safety and Health Bill

The Senate, on May 23, voted 94 to 4 to pass the draft bill on Occupational Safety and Health which principle is to allow police search, without warrant, into workplace believing to have child labor and abusive of child labor force. Establishment of a Children Protection Commission would comprise of not less than one-third women member.

Criminal Investigation Fund bill

The House voted 286 to 35 with 1 abstain, on May 7, to pass the draft bill to establish a criminal investigation fund. Funding revenue will come from 1] government subsidiary 2] private sector donation 3] fine from criminal cases previously sent to the Revenue Department. The Police Chief will chair the fund management panel, supervising in financial audit and submit annual audit to the parliament.

NCCC candidates

The selection panel of NCCC , chaired by Supreme Court chief justice Atthaniti Dithamnart , had named two candidates to fill a vacant seat in the National Counter Corruption Commission [ NCCC] after Sawat Orrungrojs retirement. The two candidates are Wichienchote Sookchotirat, deputy justice permanent secretary and Yongyut Kapilakan former deputy secretariat to the PM office. The Senate will finalize the two nominees into one.

This October 24, seven NCCC panels will vacant due to 1] Opas Arunin, chairman 2]Kirkiat Pitakseritham 3] Rudee Jivarak 4] Nat Srivihok 5] Kamol Prachuabmoh 6] Prasert Damrongchai and 7] Virat Wattanasiritam will be retired.

NTC selection committee

The Prime Minister Office appointed 17 members of the National Telecommunication Commission [NTC] selection committee, to replace the old committee previously resigned, as follow:
  1. Gen. Songkram Tanavora, deputy supreme commander.
  2. Paiboon Seingkong, deputy permanent secretary ministry of education.
  3. Ms. Tananuj Tritipbutr, deputy permanent secretary information technology and telecommunication ministry.
  4. Worarak Chansamart, legal consultant to the commerce ministry.
  5. Gen Winai Pattiyakul, secretarial to the security council.
  6. Kobchai Dejharn, chief division of telecommunication engineering, Institute of Technology Prachomklow Lad Krabang.
  7. Somchai Jitapankul, chief of division of electrical engineering, Chulalongkorn University.
  8. Ekachai Sangin, dean of faculty of engineering, Chulalongkorn University.
  9. Narong U-thanom, dean of faculty of engineering, Sri Pratum University.
  10. Chamnan Hokiat, Engineering Association of Thailand.
  11. Vallop Surakampoltorn, Electrical Electronic Computer Telecommunication and Information Technology Association.
  12. Sayant Chowpreecha, Information Technology Network Association.
  13. Anan Voranitipong, Telecommunication Association of Thailand.
  14. Ms. Saree Ongsomwang, Comsumer Protection Foundation.
  15. Pairoj Polpetch, Peoples Right Protection Association
  16. Ms. Chantana Bansirichoti, Child Development Foundation
  17. Torpong Selanont, Thai Association for the Blind.


The selection committees function is to nominate 14 candidates for NTC to be finalize into 7 by the Senate.

The old selection committee resigned after the Administrative court declared void the 14 candidates of NTC on ground that the selection process was unfair and should be re-started. The 17 members selection committee resigned to show their responsibility.

Manoonkrit to resign on Jan 4, 2004

Senate Speaker Manoonkrit Roopkachorn, on May 20, announced his resignation from the post effective on January 4, 2004 after some members of the upper house tried to force him to step down. His opponents said he made a promise, during his campaign, to stay in post for two years.

Manoonkrit denied but the controversy spread out into a debate calling for an evaluation of his performance so he decided to step down two years before his terms expires in 2006.
 


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