HD Research Institute
Monthly Security Report – July, 2014August 19, 2014 | By admin | Category: HD Research Institute
In July 2014, 20 people died and 85 were wounded in the Deep South of Thailand. That means an increase of attacks in the three provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala; the latter being where the majority of bombs and gunshots were reported.
At the beginning of 2013, statistics and records of attacks in the Deep South of Thailand show that most of the attacks occur over the weekend. One reason could be due to the heavy flow of traffic of people going to and from various locations or at public places where they are easy targets for attackers.
Despite the military coup in May, attacks in the Deep South of Thailand have not decreased. In July, there was a significant increase of violence compared to June. One of the reasons can be attributed to the start of Vassa, the Buddhist equivalent of Lent, on the 12th of July which coincided with the end of Ramadan.
The biggest attack occurred in late July, in the Province of Yala where 15 people died and 52 were wounded by a car bomb in Betong district. Most of the injured people were civilians, Bangkok Post reported. The statistic below shows the highest number of killed and injured people in this region.The end of Ramadan on 28th of July was followed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) detonation in Pattani’s Sai Buri district, which killed one child and injured six .
There were no attacks reported during the month of August in the province of Songkla, but Narathiwat witnessed targeted attacks in the districts of Rueso, Tak Bai, Sukirin, Su-ngai Padi and Cho-airong where eight people died, seven of them were killed by gunshots. Attacks in Pattani happened in Mayo district, Sai Buri district, Nong Chik district and Thung Yang Daeng district. Five of the six victims died by gunshots and belonged either to officials or were reported militants. It seems like civilians are not direct targets of attacks, but remain the most at risk group and represent the majority of the victims. This is illustrated by the bomb explosions that occurred in Yala’s Betong district in late July where 52 people were injured and two killed by a car bomb.
Vehicle bombs are one of the most dangerous weapons in conflict regions because it causes not only a high number of casualties but also causes damageto buildings and roads resulting in high infrastructural costs for the government.
On 7 July, two IEDs exploded in Yala and Pattani. These were two separate but related attacks, which injured 3 people. One defense volunteer died in Yala’s Than To district.Despite the high damage rate of vehicle bombs, more people were killed by gunshots in July. Victims of these kinds of attacks are not only officials, but are also civilians.
The graph below shows that the most at risk group is called Other/ Unknown, which includes civilians. There is a higher risk of casualties and injuries for civilians, followed by the police force due to the security they provide for local officials like teachers.
In mid July, the NCPO decided to build fences around schools in 136 villages located in high risk regions in the Deep South of Thailand. They also plan to install CCTV cameras in these areas. This illustrates the high priority of peace talks. After a disruption of peace talks between the Yingluck government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) following the end of Ramadan from the previous year, both sides are interested in continuing peace dialogues for resolving southern conflicts behind closed doors. The two parties are BRN separatist movement and the NCPO under General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The statement of the army chief is clear: “The Thai side is aware that resorting to violence as a means to fight violence is not a sustainable solution and at the same time I will not allow a land separation or administrative separation of Thailand’s deep South.” (Bangkok Post)
Aside from the peace talks, the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), and the ministries are supposed to work together and create transparency for a public understanding of how the government tries to bring peace and unity into the Deep South region of Thailand.
To download the PDF Version please click here: Monthly Security Report July 2014
For further information on seperate attacks, please consult HDFF’s South Thailand Security Map: HDFF South Thailand Incident Map
Monthly Security Report – June, 2014July 4, 2014 | By admin | Category: HD Research Institute
Ten deaths and twelve injuries were reported in the month of June in connection to the conflict in the Deep South – a big difference to May, which saw a total of 107 injuries, and ten deaths. Whereas last month experienced several very large-scale and indiscriminate bomb attacks, resulting in huge numbers of casualties, June witnessed an increase in smaller-scale targeted attacks.
Overview of attacks
Throughout the month of June, Pattani witnessed targeted attacks in Sai Buri district, Yarang district, Yaring district, Panare district, and Khok Pho district. Four military personnel were victims, two of whom were killed by gunshots from a pick-up truck on June 3, and the other two injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) on June 4, as they guarded a road used by teachers on their route to school. A male defense volunteer was killed by gunshot on June 11 in Sai Buri, and on June 23, two rangers were wounded when an IED was remotely detonated, also as they patrolled the route teachers take to school in Yaring district. No details have emerged as to who the perpetrators were. At the start of Ramadan, shots were fired near a mosque in Panare district, wounding the father of the Mosque’s Imam, and killing an assistant village chief and religious leader. Rumors amounted that the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) were behind this attack, but they have denied all responsibility. (Bangkok Post)
Narathiwat witnessed two separate, but related targeted attacks on June 16. The first – a roadside bomb explosion – injured two defense volunteers providing security for teachers in Cho Ai Rong district at around 8am. The second occurred when a bomb targeting a police Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team exploded, missing the targets and killing a civilian motorcyclist passing by. A further attack in Narathiwat occurred in Tak Bai on June 28 when at least ten men opened fire on a team of policemen, killing two, in addition to wounding two civilians nearby.
Songkla witnessed one attack, on June 16. The owner of a grocery shop was killed, and his wife wounded when a group of four men on motorcycles arrived at their shop, one of whom walked inside and opened fire. The perpetrators then set fire to the shop before escaping. Police are investigating the attack.
Type of attacks
Despite the fact that most of the incidents in June appear to have been targeted attacks, civilians still make up the largest number of victims, with five killed and five injured. In all cases of civilians being attacked, the intent behind them remains so far unknown to official sources. The second biggest victims are both the police and the military. Two military personnel and two policemen were killed in June, and two of each injured. Furthermore, one defence volunteer was killed and two were wounded.
Guns were the most common type of weapon used in attacks in June, and also the most likely to cause fatalities. A total of nine people were killed by gunshot, and five injured, in comparison to one death by IED, and six injuries.
Media reports on southern conflict
A large challenge when it comes to regular reporting on the conflict in the South is the lack of reliable sources and documentation of the situation and all related activities, including the number and nature of the attacks. As a step towards ending media bias, and promoting factual knowledge about the situation, Panu Uthairat, the secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre, met with local networks and government officials to put in place a set of basic standards and rules for discussing and reporting on the violence. He urged that all news outlets put more emphasis on accuracy, and reporting from all angles, to prevent the spread of misinformation and misunderstanding. (Bangkok Post)
Another problem occurs when considering the fact that the insurgency has no defined goals or leader at the forefront of it, with insurgent cells disconnected and diffuse. This poses problems for reporters and for the public trying to understand the issues. The dominant source of news for the conflict comes from Bangkok-based press, who have been accused of media bias against the Malay-Muslim minority. It has been observed that these outlets fail to give balanced reports, focusing solely on attacks against Thai Buddhists, and not on the systemic discrimination of the Muslim population. Furthermore, reports on abuses by security forces against the Malay Muslims in the south are few and far between. (The Boston Globe)
To download the PDF version please click here: HDFF South Thailand Security Report June 2014
For further information on seperate attacks, please consult HDFF’s South Thailand Security Map: HDFF South Thailand Incident Map
Bi-Weekly Newsletter: June 10-24, 2014June 25, 2014 | By HS | Category: HD Research Institute
In politics, the nationwide curfew has been lifted. The NCPO and Gen Prayuth have begun to clarify the planned steps that will be taken to restore the country to normalcy. While many Cambodian workers retreated due to crackdown scare, assurance from Thailand and cheaper passport prices have begun to draw them back into the country. The NCPO promises to regulate migrant workers and stop human trafficking leaders just as Thailand is condemned as being a Tier 3 trafficking country according to the TIP report. Suthep has reported frequent correspondence with Gen Prayuth, which Prayuth denies. EU is urging democracy by cutting ties to Thailand. NCPO states neutralism but many still feel the inequality. A new, official anti-coup makers group has been established outside Thai borders.
In security, NCPO has lifted curfew however martial law is to remain. Police have issued arrest warrants for Rama IX Rd explosion suspects. Large amount of weapons found in Ayutthaya. Random violence continues in the deep South of Thailand. Warning issued about potential increase in car bombs before Ramadan. General Prayuth has taken charge of solution planning in the South of Thailand. Former director-general of the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) has been reinstated to in hopes of improving the situation in the South.
In economy, since the military coup, the army appears to be making moves to encourage national reconciliation, decrease corruption, and boost the Thai economy, targeting areas such as illegal gambling and tax fraud. As the political situation settles, Kasikorn Research Centre has predicted higher growth estimates than previously forecast, but in a negative blow to Thailand’s economy and external relations, the EU has announced its suspension of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, until democratic rights are restored.
(Source: Bangkok Post)
On Friday, 13 June the curfew from 12am to 4am was lifted in Bangkok and across the nation shortly after Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha made his weekly televised address. The curfew had previously been lifted in 25 provinces being mostly tourist areas. During his weekly address to the people he also clarified the proposed timeline of events to take place in government. He stated that an interim government will be determined and in place in September, with an interim constitution and legislative body to be formed in October. This would end the direct rule of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) that took over on May 22. Gen Prayuth, NCPO chairman, additionally stated that the plan is to have the interim government and legislative body in charge of the country for about a year. After reforms, elections can take place. With regards to the rice farmers, Gen Prayuth intends to have them repaid on June 22. (Bangkok Post)
The NCPO has stated that it will begin to target human traffickers, planning to go after trafficking leaders and officials, and regulate migrant workers. This announcement was made during Gen Prayuth’s, weekly report on Friday June 20. At about the same time the United States announced that Thailand had fallen to a Tier 3 human trafficking country, after remaining Tier 2 and being warned to take action for four years. Tier 3 is the lowest level on the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report and puts Thailand among countries such as North Korea, Syria, and Iran in human trafficking numbers. This could cause sanctions and aid cuts to be taken against Thailand. In addition to loss of national aid from the US, trade and consumption could be affected with companies and individuals reconsidering investing in and buying Thai products. Some Thai officials such as foreign affairs secretary, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, have condemned the U.S. for measuring Thailand’s performance and demand it take into consideration the recent efforts Thailand has made. (Bangkok Post)
The NCPO has urged those working in the justice system and law force to be impartial and avoid taking any actions that could be seen as deepening social divides. However, red-shirt leader in Udon Thani, Kwanchai Praiphana, claims he was treated unfairly by military on Thursday, June 12. He stated that People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters were allowed to demonstrate while the military silenced red-shirt supporters. He questions how reconciliation will become with the current inequality. (Bangkok Post)
Many Cambodian workers returned to Thailand this past week to work as fears of a military crackdown and arrest were subdued. Thai troops and Cambodian authorities assured workers that there would be no crackdown. Additionally Cambodia cut the price of passports from $135 to $4 on June 20, making it affordable for Cambodians to work in Thailand legally. (Bangkok Post)
On June 23, Pol Gen Somyos Poompanmuang, charged with the suppression of political rallies, announced a 500 baht reward for anyone who can provide “useful” photos of anti-coup activity participants. He stated that police would not use force against demonstrators, but talk to them so they will “understand and adjust their attitude.” Pol Gen Somyos said small amounts of anti-coup activity could create disorder, and that demonstrators should take into consideration the fact that most people support the NCPO’s work. In a Suan Dusit Poll, the NCPO received an approval rating of 8.82 out of 10 and a National Institute for Development Administration (NIDA) poll reported that a majority of the poll participants, 41.30 percent, said that the NCPO should nominate Gen Prayuth for the post of provisional government prime minister. (Bangkok Post)
PDRC leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, stated at a dinner of about 100 PDRC supporters on Saturday, June 21 that he has been advising and chatting with Gen Prayuth about ousting Thaksin Shinawatra’s influence and allies since the political violence that occurred in 2010. While Suthep has promised not to return to politics, he said the PDRC would create a new fund to promote national reform and aid victims of the demonstrations, holding weekly dinners at the Pacific Club, the fund’s new office. In response to Suthep’s claims of common correspondence with Gen Prayuth, Gen Prayuth denied the private exchange of messages prior to the May 22 coup. (Bangkok Post)
The NCPO is urging the EU to understand the need for the coup. Currently, the EU has curtailed diplomatic ties with Thailand, trying to pressure the nation to return to democracy. After a meeting in Luxembourg on June 23, official visits and partnerships will be put on hold until democracy is restored. The EU is calling for credible and inclusive elections, along with respecting people’s freedoms and rights. (Bangkok Post)
Former Pheu Thai party leader, Charupong Ruangsuwan, created the first official anti-coup opposition group called the “Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy” on June 24. He will run the group from an unnamed country in self-exile. He has decried, what he sees as, the junta’s violation of power, abuse of democracy and removal of human rights. The group will be run outside of Thailand and provide moral support for anti-coup groups in and out of Thailand. (Bangkok Post)
(Source: Bangkok Post)
NCPO stated June 14 that the curfew was lifted to boost the atmosphere among the public and tourists but that it could be reinstated at anytime if violence or political movement erupts in an area. The martial law will remain in place stated an NCPO spokeswoman, however authorities will first enforce normal laws for most crimes. (Bangkok Post)
Police have issued 3 arrest warrants for men suspected of involvement in the grenade attack that took place by Rama IX Rd on June 13 prior to the curfew lift. The attack caused damage to several cars and a police kiosk but no one was injured. Previously arrested red-shirt gaurd, Vichien Toomtaku, told police the other men were involved also and hired him to throw the grenade to make Bangkok seem unstable still. (Bangkok Post, Thai PBS)
Weapons, including M79 grenade launcher with grenades, hand grenades, an AK-47 with ammunition and bullet proof vests, were found in a canal in Ayutthaya during a house search on June 15. Renter of the house, Wattana Sapwichien had been summoned to report to the NCPO after suspicion of possessing weapons. Police believe the weapons can be linked to him and an investigation is taking place. (Bangkok Post)
In Pattani, a woman was killed and two men injured on Sunday, June 15 in a gun attack. The incident took place in front of grocery store where the three were shopping when two motorcycles with 3 men opened fire on them before fleeing the scene. On June 16, two volunteers were slightly injured in Narathiwat by a bomb explosion. The bomb was planted along the side of the road and detonated as they walked passed. Also, on June 16 in Narathiwat’s Chanae district a bomb trap killed a motorcyclist. The attack happened as four police explosives disposal team members were traveling in two vehicles nearby. The explosion killed the passerby motorcyclist and damaged the two police vehicles, but left the police officers unharmed. In Songkhla’s Thepa district, a grocer was wounded and his wife injured when a gunman accompanied by 3 others opened fire on them. The men set fire to the shop before fleeing. Neighbors helped put out the fire and take care of the injured woman (Bangkok Post)
The Police Operational Centre for the Southern Border Provinces’ car theft prevention centre warned on Monday, June 16 that 40 vehicles had been stolen. These vehicles may be turned into car bombs. The Centre warned that the vehicles may be used by insurgents before the fasting month of Ramadan, which will begin later this month. They also warned that past militants used vehicles to make car bombs which were used against military, police and civilian targets during this time. The vehicles were stolen from residents and government offices in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and Songkhla. (Bangkok Post)
On Saturday, June 21, Abdulkolik Cheha, a villager of Khao Tum and military informant, was killed on his way home from Panare district of Pattani. A group of hidden men opened fire on him, killing him instantly. Police assume militants are responsible for the attack since Abdulkolik had been a military informant. (Bangkok Post)
On Sunday June 22 two rangers were killed and five others injured in a gunfight after an unknown group of militants attacked their vehicle in the Si Sakhon district of Narathiwat. The militants fled the scene when reinforcements arrived. The seven injured soldiers were rushed to the hospital, were two later died. (Bangkok Post)
General Prayuth Chan-ocha has taken control of restructuring plans to solve issues in the deep South of Thailand. Solutions will be separated into 3 levels. Gen Prayuth will develop new policies to take place from 2015 to 2017 at the policy-making level. The national Security Council (NSC) will act as the general’s adviser. After, at the level of turning policy into action, a working group will be responsible. This group will be led by army Gen Udomet Sitabutr and NSC secretary general Thawil Pliensri. Solutions, covering security and development, will be implemented by the working group through the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre. The third level will be consisted of Isoc handling the operational level across the South. Currently, Isoc plans to continue to remove troops from the South and strengthen local volunteers in hopes of gaining support and trust from residents. (Bangkok Post)
The NCPO re-appointed Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan as director-general of the Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) in hopes of enhancing forensic science investigation and solving problems in the South of Thailand. Forensic science officials had been removed from the South before, and local authorities were required to work with the police. DNA tests were not allowed to be sent to the military. This personnel change is an effort to bring the southern insurgency to a halt. (Bangkok Post)
(Source: Bangkok Post)
It has been announced that the Revenue Department will begin an investigation into tax evasion, targeting owners of residential properties worth over 40 million baht. They aim to catch those whom they believe may be under-valuing their property to evade paying the correct tax. Anyone owning cars worth over 3 million baht will also be forced to report their possessions. The Land Transport Department has already been requested to provide lists of owners of luxury cars, who will be contacted by the department. Residences on golf courses are coming under particular spotlight. A Geographic Information System will be used as a mapping tool to evaluate the tax payments of each household member in certain areas, and to increase the efficiency of tax collection. The department stated that this is a move to increase tax efficiency, fairness and transparency, aiming to eliminate those who evade tax and the injustice this causes to those who pay. Revenue officials of various regions already have ideas of who may be guilty of tax evasion, but the challenge remains of whether they would be willing to confront wealthy and influential individuals in this sensitive matter. (Bangkok Post)
Kasikorn Research Centre (K-research) has made a revision to earlier estimates of economic growth, from between 1.8% and 2.6% to 1.3% and 2.4%. Key economic engines are expected to see positive boosts in the latter part of the year as a result of the improving business climate, increasing confidence in private sector investment, and higher demand for domestic consumption. The institute views this boost as a result of the junta’s quick action regarding economic policies. The six-month deadlock during the political protests has been lifted, state agencies reopened, and business is returning to normal, giving previously wary investors greater confidence to continue their activities. K-research also forecasts GDP to rise from 1.8% to 2.3% for the full year, and for government spending to accelerate. (Bangkok Post)
It is unclear at this stage which economic policies the military will retain from the previous Shinawatra government, but it is evident that they are pushing to co-opt certain populist policies of the past. Tax cuts are being extended and the ambitious infrastructure plans re-launched, such as the neglected rail network, and the multibillion dollar blueprint for Thailand’s flood defenses. The army also repaid around $2.7 billion to the 800,000 plus farmers who lost out on the rice subsidy scheme of the previous government, and are making further moves to revive the debilitated agricultural sector. Furthermore, in a bid of reconciliation and improving sentiment amongst Thais, the government paid World Cup rights-holders $13 million for all games to be shown live on free-air television shows. Some have criticized these populist ‘quick-fixes’, and are waiting for time to show their success or failure. (The Wall Street Journal)
Since the start of the World Cup, and expectations of an increase in gambling in Thailand, the military government has cracked down on the illegal activity in an attempt to ‘restore the country’s image’. Between June 9 and June 21, the police arrested 1,677 people taking part in World Cup gambling, and shut down 675 illegal betting websites. It is still expected that Thais will spend an estimated 45 billion baht on betting during the world cup. Although the national lottery and horse racing are the only forms of legal gambling in Thailand, the habit is still perceived as a large problem, and one in which the military government is seeking to address. (Reuters)
In a blow to Thailand’s economy and reputation since the May 22 coup, the European Union (EU) has decided to delay signing an agreement which would bring economic and political ties with Thailand closer. Until the military government restores democracy and respect of human rights, the EU has suspended official visits to and from Thailand and refused to press on with the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the two countries, which, once ratified, would boost links in tourism, employment, education, migration, transport, and environment. The total amount of goods traded between Thailand and the EU during 2013 came to around 32 billion Euros, a number which was set to increase if a bilateral trade agreement was to be signed. However, negotiations regarding this will likely be affected too. Other factors such as military cooperation between the two parties are also threatened with this recent drawback. (Reuters) Key figures in Thailand’s private sector, however, claim that the EU’s response would have no lasting damaging impact, and Mr. Suphan, Chairman of the Federation of the Thai Industries, stated that trade between the two parties would continue. Thai production and exports would not take a big hit as the EU only amounts to 10% of the market space. (Bangkok Post)
South Thailand Monthly Security Report – May, 2014June 6, 2014 | By admin | Category: HD Research Institute
Large scale attacks result in high number of casualties
107 injuries were reported in the month of May in the three Southern Border Provinces (SBP) – a huge increase to previous months, and a result of several large scale attacks. On May 6, at around 2pm, a motocycle bomb exploded in Hat Yai, Songkla province, injuring eight people – two policemen and six civilians. Two suspected insurgents were arrested in suspicion of carrying out the attacks.
During the night of Sunday May 11, Yala and Narathiwat provinces witnessed a series of coordinated attacks. In Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat province, four bombs exploded in different locations, which killed one woman and injured 12 others. In Tak Bai, a hand grenade thrown at a customs office resulted in five injuries. Further bomb and gun attacks occurred on the same night in Bannang Sata, Muang, Than To, and Krong Pinang districts, causing damage to the surrounding area but leaving no casualties.
Increase of attacks following military coup on May 22
There was a marked increase in large scale attacks following the military coup on May 22, as insurgents may have seized the opportunity while all focus was on the capital. On May 24, at around 19:30, simultaneous attacks took place at 15 different locations in Pattani and Narathiwat, killing three and injuring between 63 and 70 others. Tor 229 patrol boat was also hit by an explosive device, and as a result navy officers were ordered to be on their highest alert. A further highly destructive attack occurred on May 28 in Muang district, Pattani Province. Ten people were injured, including one soldier, three defense volunteers, and six civilians, when a bomb exploded in the car park of Khok Pho hospital. Dozens of vehicles were also badly damaged. Overall, eight insurgent-related fatalities were reported in the month of May, resulting from five separate attacks.
Pattani witnesses highest number of Casualties
Narathiwat, Songkla, and Pattani all witnessed large scale attacks in May, 2014, causing many casualties, and a lot of damage. In Narathiwat, a total of 16 people were injured, and 2 killed. In Songkla, there were no reported deaths, but 8 reported injuries after two bombs exploded in Hat Yai district on May 6, which resulted in a large decrease in tourism in this usually popular spot. Pattani witnessed the highest number of casualties in May, resulting from the attacks on May 24 and May 28, with 86 injuries and 5 deaths.
After the Hat Yai attacks, executives from 22 schools created a security plan to be effective immediately, which included deploying military and defense volunteers to patrol the routes teachers take to school and to be stationed around schools during opening hours. Teachers must now report to security officials if they plan to leave or arrive later. This comes among ongoing risks to teachers, who have been targeted by insurgents for as long as the conflict has existed. On May 19 a bomb exploded in Narathiwat while rangers provided protection for teachers at a school, at 8:40am, seriously injuring one of the guards. The Chairman of the Confederation of Teachers in Narathiwat subsequently called for peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional to resume. Five senior police officers were transferred to inactive posts in Su-ngai Kolok, Narathiwat, due to their failure to stop the May 11 attacks which caused much devastation and injury.
Indiscriminate attacks leave many civilian casualties
A total of 101 civilians were victims of insurgency-related attacks in May, 2014 – more than double the amount from last month which stood at 44. This reflects the increase of large-scale attacks occurring in Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkla provinces, with bombs detonated in public places such as outside 7/11 stores and gas stations. 11 military personnel were victims of attacks, most of which were carried out using guns.
The new school term began this month but no teachers have yet been attacked. Nevertheless, they still face a high risk, but local security forces had to inform administrations that there aren’t enough troops to protect teachers and schools in vulnerable areas. Many view this as a demonstration of the failure of the government to effectively handle Thailand’s highest security threat. Talks were held between soldiers, police and school administrations on how to improve the protection for teachers, and the military were urged to introduce more stringent measures. 24-hour patrols are to be introduced in hotspot areas to limit the movement of possible attackers.
For further information on the insurgency-related attacks, please consult the incident map on the HDFF website.
Bi-Weekly Newsletter: April 28 – May 12, 2014May 14, 2014 | By HS | Category: HD Research Institute
In politics, Yingluck Shinawatra has been removed from her position as caretaker prime minister for the abuse of power charge. ASEAN has urged reconciliation in Thai politics adhering to democratic policy. The PDRC will move to the Government House for its last decisive battle. Protesters have left rally sites at major Thai television stations. Suthep and supporters marched to parliament to demand interim prime minister, while the legality of such an action remains heavily questioned. CAPO has decided to pursue the arrest of PDRC party members already facing arrest charges. UDD urged by leader Jatuporn to restrain from violence through the unrest.
In security, no major changes are foreseen in NSC’s southern security approach. Attacks continue in Yala and Narathiwat provinces killing one. Hat Yai bombs incite tourism drop. Security measures are planned to be heighted in Narathiwat province for teachers. Rangsit University was recently targeted. Military will boost security at rally sites throughout Bangkok.
In economics, Thailand’s current political turmoil is having negative effects on Thailand’s economic situation, as investor and consumer confidence has been badly damaged, particularly since the ousting of Yingluck and her Cabinet members on May 7. In addition to this, Thailand’s tourism sector has taken a blow as travel warnings are being issued around the world, and concerns have been expressed that the country will not meet its target of 2 trillion Baht in tourism revenue. In other news, an ASEAN summit was held on May 11 in Myanmar, in which leaders discussed the remaining requirements member states must fulfill for the establishment of the ASEAN community in 2015.
On May 7 Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted from the position of caretaker prime minister. She was found guilty of abusing power by transferring former security chief Thawil Pliensri and installing her brother-in-law in 2011. July 20 elections were confirmed by the caretaker government and appointed caretaker prime minister, former Commerce Minister, Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan. Her removal and opposition protests and blockades in the capital have brought increasing numbers of pro-government supporters into the outskirts of the city. (Aljazeera News)
On Sunday at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) summit in Myanmar, ASEAN voiced its view on the matter of unrest in Thailand. The ASEAN members have a long established relationship of non-interference. In this situation, ministers must also avoid misinterpretation or perceived favoritism by the opposing Thai parties. However, the group adopted a suggestion of Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen to address Thailand’s political situation. The recommendation urges conflicting Thai political parties to end the crisis peacefully and with full attention paid to democratic law and principles. It stated the importance of national reconciliation and restoring order and normalcy in line with the interests of the Thai people. This statement was very similar to a statement made in December in Tokyo at the ASEAN-Japan summit. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) closed its Lumpini Park rally site on Monday and moved to Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge. The new location is close to the Government House where Suthep has been granted the ability to house the PDRC office in Santi Maitree Building within the Government House compound. Upon entering the Government House with demonstrators on Saturday May 10, Suthep negotiated with soldiers who were guarding the building and was given the permission. This action can be seen as a show of PDRC power over the caretaker government, as the Santi Maitree Building houses the offices of the prime minister and cabinet members. Hopes of the PDRC are to turn the building into a people’s government coordinating center. Suthep has stated that he will hold meetings with any group, make future announcements from and set up his office in the building. Protestors won’t be allowed in the compound, only select PDRC staff. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
PDRC Protesters who were rallying at the five major Thai television stations returned to their respective rallying sites. Protesters withdrew Sunday from Channels 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 television stations. Most were called to return to Lumpini Park after their several days’ encampment at the stations before joining Suthep near Government House at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge. (Bangkok Post)
Suthep has stated that the PDRC will be joined by its allies from the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) and the Dharma Army at the Government House. The groups have decided to build a new stage in front of the United Nations Building. Suthep along with PDRC supporters plan to march to parliament on Monday to see if the Senate speaker is “able to meet our demand to select a new prime minister of the people.” Suthep also stated, “If not, we will do it ourselves.” Suthep has said that he will move back to Surat Thani if the PDRC wins the last round of rallies, but if he loses, people can visit him in jail. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) decided Thursday to indict 51 PDRC figures who already face arrest. Of these figures, 14 are core members of the PDRC party, including Suthep himself. Once arrest warrants are issued, following a court hearing on Monday, Capo will begin the arrest process and will request that the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) freezes the 14 PDRC leaders’ assets. Policing for the arrest operation which will be broken up into 14 teams will be provided by the Arintharat Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit. Meanwhile, on Saturday, the Democrat Party stated that the caretaker government’s Capo should be dissolved and its responsibilities handed over to impartial groups. This call to dissolve the agency is based on Democrat Party claims that Capo is not keeping peace and order in the country, has questioned the Constitutional Court and threatened people. (Bangkok Post)
Leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), Jatuporn Prompan, has called Suthep’s proposal unconstitutional and stated that he is setting up for a coup. However, the red-shirt leaders have urged restraint among followers even through perceived provocation by the PDRC. Jatuporn has said the UDD is ready to defend the government for as long as needed. The UDD party continues to span a 4 km stretch of Aksa Road. Jatuporn stated that the leadership of the Senate needs to be questioned. Surachai Liangboonlertchai was elected Speaker of the Senate Friday evening by the Senate. Noppadon Pattama, a member of the Pheu Thai party affairs committee, has stated several reasons to question the legitimacy of the Speaker’s election since it was not a part of the meeting’s original agenda and has yet to receive royal endorsement to allow him to act in government. Noppadon also said that Suthep’s call for the Election Commission, Senate speaker and presidents of the Supreme Court, Supreme Administrative Court and Constitutional Court to push for a new prime minister is undemocratic and unconstitutional according to various laws. In addition, the movement faces many roadblocks. A senior judge even stated Sunday that there is no provision in the law giving judges the power to choose a new prime minister. (The Nation, Bangkok Post)
National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general, Thawil Pliensri, visited the deep South of Thailand on Sunday. However, no changes to the government’s security plan were revealed as were expected. In late April, he had stated that one of his first priorities after being reinstated was to review southern security policy. He said the purpose of the visit was primarily to boost morale among local authorities and that the three-year security policy created under the Yingluck administration was unlikely to change since it follows the NSC’s policy of promoting an environment favorable to peace building. He stated that all agencies must work together, while the military will focus on security. A recent public forum held by Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Pattani campus and the College of Deep South Watch highlighted the importance of residents reaching an agreement of what they wanted before the peace process begins. (Bangkok Post)
On Sunday Night, Narathiwat and Yala provinces were hit by bomb and militant-style attacks. Three attacks in Sungai Kolok district of Narathiwat took place, one killing a woman and injuring several others. Tak Bai district reported two bombs and Sungai Padi district reported several fires. In Yala, bombs destroyed electricity poles in Yaha district. Muang and Than To districts experienced several bomb blasts. Gun attacks were reported in Krong Pinang and Bannang Sata districts. Police did not reveal major details, but stated the attacks were a coordinated effort. (Bangkok Post)
Tourists have avoided Hat Yai after two bombs exploded in the city centre on Tuesday May 6. The bombs injured eight people, two police and six civilians. Since the incident hotels have seen a 30 percent decrease in bookings through cancellations in the commercial area. (Bangkok Post)
Local security officials in Narathiwat’s Cho Airong district held a meeting on Thursday, May 8 to address increasing security for southern teachers before the term begins next week. Teachers are increasingly becoming targets of insurgents. Representatives from 22 schools participated in the meeting which discussed arranging security on transportation routes used to and from the schools and increased security at schools during opening and closing hours. (Bangkok Post)
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has condemned a killing of a pregnant woman on Tuesday, April 29. The woman, Jariya Promnuan, was a senior public health official married to a local police officer, she was two months pregnant. A female colleague that was with her was also shot and seriously wounded. The NHRC issued a statement on May 1 demanding that those who committed the crime cease violent activities against the defenseless as it is illegal and a human rights violation. The NHRC urged more efficient security actions from the government. The commission also urged citizens and local communities to look out for potential threats and for all agencies to seek solutions to build peace in the area. The NHRC vowed to continue working on the situation, monitor the work of authority officials and coordinate with other groups that are assisting those affected by the violence. (Bangkok Post)
On Sunday, a building at Rangsit University in Pathum Thani was hit by a M79 grenade. No one was injured according to Pathum Thani police chief. The attack is believed to be symbolic, not intended to injure or kill, and thought to be politically-related. (Bangkok Post)
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha stated that the military would intervene in the political situation only as a last resort. Former leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), Sondhi Limthongkul, has urged the military to take action so pressure is not placed on the King to choose sides. Maj Gen Apirat Khongsompong has stated the military plans only to deploy soldiers to locations throughout Bangkok to aid the increasing unrest at the Government House, parliament and television stations. He also said that the military is working with the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) and that soldiers sent to areas along with Capo police are unarmed. An army source said Gen Prayuth has ordered troops to various locations to prevent violence, especially at night, including the PDRC demonstration sites, the UDD rally site on Aksa Road and television stations. (Bangkok Post)
Since the Court’s decision to remove Yingluck and her nine cabinet members from government on May 7, many concerns have been stated about the economic impact this will have on the country’s economy. Moody, the credit-rating agency, commented that the move to remove Yingluck will negatively affect Thailand’s financial situation as it risks prolonging the political conflict further, which will in turn negatively affect both consumer and investor confidence in the country. Foreign chambers and business circles have also been voicing their concerns, believing that if Thailand fails to form an effective government by the end of the year, they will miss opportunities of new investment. The stock exchange index (SET) has also taken a hit due to the political turmoil in the capital and around, falling from above 1,420 to below 1,380 in the first week of May. (The Nation, National News Bureau of Thailand)
Foreign credit ratings by foreign countries are being affected by the political vacuum with, for example, Japan, lowering its rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ in recent weeks. Thailand may be overtaken and marginalized by competitors such as Vietnam and Indonesia in economic development, particularly in terms of signing the free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union. It is also evident, however, that the country will continue to benefit from the existing foreign companies who will remain active despite political uncertainty, due to Thailand’s business potential for foreign investors, particularly in regards to automobiles, oil and gas, construction industries and communications technology companies. (The Nation, National News Bureau of Thailand)
Thailand’s tourism revenue target of 2 trillion baht is at risk of not being met, should the political turmoil not end soon. Embassies around the world are issuing new travel warnings for Thailand – the Indian Embassy issued a warning on Friday 9 May advising travellers to be extra cautious and avoid certain at risk-areas, and as a result cancellations are expected to rise by around 30%, said the Business Standard. In the first quarter of this year Indian tourism dropped by 16.76%, Japan dropped by 22.5%, and Malaysia 15.76%. The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) has urged the government to invest large sums of money into boosting tourism and the image of Thailand as a holiday destination, after reports of travel agencies selling tours to other destinations following Thailand’s political unrest. (The Bangkok Post)
The ASEAN leaders convened in Myanmar on May 11, where they discussed issues surrounding the establishment of the ASEAN community by 2015. They discussed the progress needed to decrease the gap in development between member states, and reiterated the need to build upon the existing initiatives such as the Ha Noi Declaration for Narrowing the Development Gap for Closer ASEAN Integration (2001). Concerns are mounting, however, that the process of integration will not meet its targets by next year, as planned, due to the failure of effectively harmonising regulations amongst the 10 member states. Thailand will also have trouble taking up its leadership role without an effective government, and is stalling in efforts to fulfill its remaining requirements due to the focus on its domestic political problems. (The Nation, National News Bureau of Thailand).
After losing much of its rice trade in Hong Kong to Vietnam, due to Vietnam’s price competitiveness in the past few years, Thailand is now striving to retake its position as top rice supplier. Witt Maneenetr, trade commissioner of the Thai Trade Centre in Hong Kong, stated that they expect Thailand’s share of the rice trade in Hong Kong to reach 60% this year – an improvement on last year’s 54%, but still far behind its highest ever point of 90%. It currently stands at around 50%. Hong Kong is one of Thailand’s biggest rice markets, which was worth US$320 million last year. To regain its top-place Thailand’s commerce industry will invite over ten of the largest traders in the city to attend the “Thaifex-World of Food Asia” fair, from May 21-25. Thailand has launched a three to five-year strategy plan which they hope will increase their market share to 70-80%. (The Nation, National News Bureau of Thailand)
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