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November 2010 : Royal Project for Flood Alleviation

  • His Majesty opened Klong Lad Pho flood gates and Bhumibol Bridges
  • Case against Democrat Party dismissed
  • Constitutional amendment advances in Parliament
  • Viktor Bout extradited to US
  • State borrowed another 16 billion
  • Extra long weekend in May
  • Thai education 47th out of 58
  • Internet centers in communities nationwide
  • New Province Bill gets first approval
  • Custom duty reduced on E85 vehicles
  • Alpine Golf case out of time

    His Majesty opened Klong Lad Pho flood gate and Bhumibol Bridges


    On 24th November 2010, His Majesty, the King went by boat to preside over the inauguration ceremony of the Klong Lad Pho flood gate and the Bhumibol Bridges I and II. It was the first time His Majesty had been on the Chao Phraya River by boat in four years.

    The Lad Pho flood gate project, initiated by His Majesty, is a short cut allowing water from the Chao Phraya River to reach the sea faster. It is built on the ancient Lad Pho Canal dug during the Ayudhaya period and involves widening the canal and installing flood gates. Previously, the Chao Phraya River flowed over 18-km to reach the sea, taking about five hours. The Klong Lad Pho flood gates, operating since 2006, help shorten the journey to only 600-metre taking 10 minutes and alleviate flooding problems in Bangkok and Samut Prakan.

    Bhumibol Bridge I and Bhumibol Bridge II, named after His Majesty, were constructed across the Chao Phraya to complete the inner and outer ring roads around Bangkok. The bridges plus the extension of the outer ring road into industrial parks in Phra Pradaeng and other districts of Samut Prakan enable the Bangkok Port at Klong Toey to be linked by road to industries located in the outer perimeter of Bangkok.


    Case against Democrat Party dismissed


    On 29th November, the Constitutional Court decided 4 to 2 to dismiss the case against the Democrat Party over its alleged misuse of 29 million Baht from the Political Party Development Fund. The majority ruled on the basis of technicalities. Three found that the Political Party Registrar failed to make the legally required prior-decision and the fourth found that the case did not compile with time-limits required by law.

    The case started on 18th March 2009 when the Department of Special Investigation submitted its investigative report to the Election Commission (EC). The report concerns the Democrat Partys alleged misuse of 29 million Baht state fund and 258 million Baht donation. On the following day, this report was quoted in Parliament by opposition MP, Chalerm Yubamrung, during a censure motion. The accusation was that Democrat Party had misused funds and if guilty the party was liable to be dissolved by the Courts. On 30th April 2009, the EC set up a panel to investigate the matter.

    On 17th December 2009, the majority of the Election Commissioners instructed the Political Party Registrar, Apichart Sukhagganond, to proceed with an investigation according to Article 95 of the Political Party Act of 2550. He therefore, appointed an investigating group on 29th December.

    During the political unrest in April 2010, Red Shirts invaded ECs office demanding that the case against the ruling party should proceed. On 12th April, the investigating group submitted its conclusion to the Political Party Registrar. The EC then on 21st April, asked the Political Party Registrar to bring a case against the Democrats for misuse of state funds. The case was filed on 26th April as per Article 93 of the 2550 Political Party Act.

    This case aroused a great deal of public interest not only because the Democrat Party is the oldest political party but also because of the withdrawal of three judges from the case. The first judge recused himself because of his case against Puea Thai Udon Thani MP who allegedly defamed him, the second because three family members were involved in the 258 MB donation case, and the third because of his suit against the former secretary of the Constitutional Court President for releasing three video clips on YouTube.

    The 258 MB donation case against the Democrat Party was filed on 13th July 2010 according to Article 95 of the 2550 Political Party Act and it is currently being considered by the Constitutional Court.


    Constitutional amendment advances in Parliament


    On 25th November, Parliament voted 354 to 19 with 17 abstentions to accept a motion to amend Article 190 of the Constitution and appointed a 45 member-panel to consider the amendment. They are 11 senators and 34 MPs from the following parties:

    19 Democrat
    4 Bhumjaithai
    4 Puea Pan Din
    3 Chart Thai Pattana
    1 Rum Jai Thai Pattana
    1 Social Action Party
    1 Matubhum and
    1 Pracharaj

    The current Article 190 states that the Cabinet must submit the dialogue framework to Parliament and obtain parliamentary approval before entering into any agreement with a foreign country.


    Viktor Bout extradited to US


    On 16th November the Cabinet concurred with the Courts decision to extradite Viktor Bout to the United States according to an extradition agreement between Thailand and USA. Viktor Bout was captured in Bangkok on 6th March 2008 and more than two years later, the Court finally ruled on 20th August 2010 that he should stand trial in the US.
    Viktor Bout, a Russian, was formerly a Major in the USSR army. He worked for the Russian intelligence agency, the KGB, before retiring and founded an aviation transport service. In a book published in 2007, Mr. Bout was called The Merchant of Death due to his involvement in the trade and logistics of arms.


    State borrowed another 16 billion


    The Fiscal Policy Office published the state of the countrys financial position for the first month of fiscal 2010-2011 (October).

  • Public revenue is 1.22 trillion Baht, (5.7 percent higher than same time last year)
  • Public expenditure is 2.07 trillion Baht making a deficit of 85 billion Baht, and
  • Non-budgetary deficit is 22.9 billion Baht,
  • Overall deficit is 1.07 trillion.
  • Amount borrowed 16 billion Baht,
  • Remaining deficit is 91.9 billion baht.

    Treasury reserve as of October 2010 is 3.3 trillion Baht.


    Extra long weekend in May


    On 30th November, the Cabinet approved Monday 16th May 2011 to be an extra-day holiday so there will be a successive five-day break between Friday 13th May and Tuesday 17th May. Friday 13th May will be the Royal Ploughing Day and Tuesday 17th May Visakha Bucha Day, it is anticipated that the long weekend will boost tourism.


    Thai education 47th out of 58


    The Office of the Education Council revealed that, according to the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) 2010 Report, Thai education is ranked 47th out of 58 world-wide. Amongst Asian-Pacific countries, such as China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Indonesia, Thailand was third from last, ahead of Indonesia and the Philippines.


    Internet centers in communities nationwide


    The National Telecommunications Commission is setting up 400 community internet centers all over the country to promote information technology in remote rural areas particularly where existing service is limited or insufficient. It is anticipated that the 400 centers will be opened within a year. They will provide access to digital information for self-learning and improve economic opportunities.


    New Province Bill gets first approval


    The House of Representatives on 26th November approved a draft bill with 318 votes to establish a new province of Bueng Kan, as well as to set up an Extraordinary Committee of 36 members to consider the Bill. The new 77th province will have 8 districts: Bueng Kan, Seka, So Pisai, Phon Charoen, Pak Khat, Bueng Khong Long, Si Wilai and Bung Khla. This province is the location of some of the biggest rubber plantations of the northeastern region and therefore, has relatively high income.


    Custom duty reduced on E85 vehicles


    On 25th November, the Cabinet approved a 20 percent reduction in import duty for E85 vehicles and abolished duty on another 7 spare part items which could not be produced locally. The new rates will become effective on 1st January 2011. Previously, custom duty on E85 vehicles was 80 percent and only 8 items of spare parts duty free.


    Alpine Golf case out of time


    On 19th November, the Supreme Courts Division for Holders of the Political Positions dismissed the case brought on behalf of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) against former Interior Minister Sanoh Thienthong in the case of the Alpine Golf Course because the 20-year statute of limitations had already expired.

    Sanoh was accused of abuse of power when as deputy Interior Minister (in charge of the Land Department) he had disallowed a transfer of the land (which later became the Alpine Golf Course) to a temple that had received it in a will from a Mrs. Nuem Chamnanchartsakda. Later the foundation set up to manage the land sold it for 130 million Baht to the Alpine Real Estate and Alpine Golf and Sport Club. Mr. Sanoh and family members held shares in these companies before selling them to Thaksin Shinawatra in 1999 for 500 million Baht. Mr Sanoh is leader of the Prachraj Party and a former chairman of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party.
    The Council of State had previously ruled that the land was monastic property in line with Section 84 of the Land Act and could not be transferred.
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