Sunday, 31 July 2011

One killed, two injured in shooting and bombing in Narathiwat

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NARATHIWAT, July 31 – A man was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a market here on Sunday, while the owner of a rubber plantation lost his leg in a booby trap explosion in the restive province.

A 34-year-old man, identified as Sapaeing Yako, 34, was shot dead at a Sunday’s market in front of the Ruso train station, said Police Sub- Lieutenant Srithanon Samlee while the other victim Maradeearman Denaramkhan, 44, was injured and rushed to a hospital.

They were shot by a gunman on a pick-up truck, driving by and stopping at the market. The gunman fired at villagers buying goods Sunday morning.

In another incident, a villager Aduenang Samor, 30, stepped on a booby trap in a rubber plantation.

His left leg was torn off. The police believed that the two incidents were the work of ill-intentioned persons who wanted to create unrest, as they strewed tripod spikes on road leading to the crime scene.

In adjacent province of Yala, a special unit destroyed a bomb weighing 20 kilogrammes in Bado village in the provincial seat.

Major Thani Kiartthisan, deputy commander of the Yala special unit 11, was tipped off by villagers about a bomb planted roadside near the entrance of the village, on a route where soldiers usually patrolled.

The bomb disposal squad and sniffer dogs successfully defused the bomb in a gas cylinder buried underground and connected to a remote radio wire detonator.

A report from the investigation team said the spot, where the bomb was found, is an area where a group of insurgents led by Madaree Arong is active.

There was also a report that he had plotted to launch a possible attack during the holy month of Ramadan.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hoax bomb threat forces evacuation of 300 Chiang Mai-Bangkok train passengers

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LAMPANG, July 30 -- More than 300 train passengers in Chiang Mai-to-Bangkok train were forced to evacuate from a train at Lampang after a bomb threat by an unidentified caller.

But after investigation, no explosive device was detected.

Police from the provincial police station in the northern province of Lampang and railway police at 9.45am helped evacuate more than 300 startled passengers on a Chiang Mai-to-Bangkok bound train after the Chiang Mai train station informed that an unidentified caller said that there was a bomb placed on the second to last railcar.

After inspecting the train, police found no explosive device but the police were double checking to make sure.

The train which left Chiang Mai at 6.40am has been released from Lampang and was heading to Bangkok.

Police believed the hoax bomb threat may have come from a member of a drug syndicate which smuggles drugs via train to their customers and were recently the target of police crackdowns.

Friday, 29 July 2011

3 cops guilty in 9-year-old boy shooting case

The Criminal Court Thursday sentenced three Bang Chan policemen to two years in jail - suspended for two years - and a fine of Bt10,000 each for manslaughter in a shooting that killed a nine-year-old boy in a sting operation to arrest drug suspects in 2003.
Pol Sr SgtMaj Pipat Saenin, 42, Pol SgtMaj Panumas Chanakham, 37, and Pol Sgt Anusorn Thaensuwan, 37, faced charges of murder and attempted murder.
The prosecution submitted that on February 23, 2003 the three policemen opened fire on a car driven by Pornwipa Kerdboonruang with intent to kill her.
The bullets went into the car and Chakraphan Srisaard, alias Nong Fluke, Ms Pornwipa's son, was hit twice in the back and the chest. Nong Fluke died later in hospital.
Ms Pornwipa was not hit and narrowly escaped death.
The court found the three policemen had been assigned to arrest drug suspects when they opened fire on the car. Three bullets hit its tyres and bumper and the defendants claimed they intended only to stop the vehicle.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Australia's Jetstar denies exploiting Thai staff

SYDNEY, July 28, 2011 (AFP) - Budget Australian carrier Jetstar strongly denied claims Thursday that it was exploiting foreign cabin crew and overworking its staff following reports of 20-hour shifts.

The airline said it took fatigue "extremely seriously" and denied "it forces cabin crew to operate when fatigued" after former and current staff and pilots told ABC television flight attendants were overburdened.

Foreign crews based in Bangkok were especially vulnerable, according to the ABC report, with open-ended employment contracts stating the maximum 20-hour shift could be extended and punitive exit clauses.

Jetstar chief Bruce Buchanan said a lot of the claims were "completely false and we completely deny them."

"The claims about slave labour and the claims that we pay these people a pittance -- our salaries in Thailand for instance, we are paying these people Aus$20,000-$30,000 a year in Thailand. That ranks in the top few percent of salaries in that country," Buchanan told ABC television.

Contracts obtained by the ABC for Jetstar's Thai staff set a shift limit of 20 hours but stipulates that the "planned limit and operational extensions may be extended by the employer".

They get paid just Aus$258 ($285) per month and $7 for every hour they fly, plus allowances, ABC said, with penalties of up to 4.5 months of their base wage if they quit early or are sacked.

Australia's minimum wage is Aus$590 per week.

Buchanan said Jetstar was "competing in Asia" and in line with local conditions, with two-thirds of its 3,000 flights per week to 17 countries in and around Asia and one-third of its staff from the region.

ABC said there had been almost 40 fatigue complaints from staff on Jetstar's long-haul domestic routes in Australia, with some expressing concern that they would be ill-equipped to handle an emergency after lengthy shifts.

One former Australian crewman told ABC he "felt like a slave" on the round trip from Sydney to the Indonesian island of Bali, with a 15-hour overnight shift, which could easily become 20 hours with delays.

Though Jetstar did not roster anyone for 15-hour stretches Buchanan said there "were situations where people do extend" and fatigue management was a joint responsibility of the company and the individual.

"Look at the hard facts -- our cabin crew work an average of 24 hours a week and you can't do too many 20 hour shifts (in a 24-hour week)," he said.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The job nobody wants: next foreign minister

The new Thai foreign minister, whoever is appointed, will face many complicated and difficult tasks as the previous government has left some "hot potatoes" for whoever takes up senior ministerial post.

The hottest job is complying with the International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s order to withdraw troops from the court imposed 'demilitarised zone' at the border adjacent to the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear.

The outgoing government under Abhisit Vejjajiva could not make a decision on the issue as it had lost its mandate - by losing the election. Abhisit did not even spell out whether Thailand should comply with the court's injunction, or how it might do this. All the Prime Minister could do was offer an expression of satisfaction over the court's order.

It remains unclear whether the troop withdrawal needs approval from Parliament in accordance with Article 190 of the current Constitution.

Officials at the Foreign Ministry are unlikely to have any clear idea about the legal implications of the ICJ injunction.

The decision to comply or not to comply with the ICJ's order is a major political burden and a decision-maker must take the consequences. Abhisit and the Democrat Party, who are about to become the opposition soon, would never hesitate to blame Pheu Thai Party for any deal with Cambodia. If the new government fully complies with the court's order, Abhisit would say Thailand stands to lose. Unless the new government complies, Abhisit would say the decision had damaged Thailand's international reputation.

The court's decision not only involves a bilateral deal between two neighbours, Thailand and Cambodia, but also involves Asean as Indonesia, the organisation's current chair, which is seeking to send a team of observers to inspect the area and monitor the situation.

During Abhisit's time in office, the military insisted many times they were not willing to allow foreign observers to enter the border area due to the fear of interference in Thai sovereignty over disputed territory.

Abhisit, since an agreement with Cambodia and Indonesia in February, has for the past month used delaying tactics to stall the arrival of Indonesia's team of observers.

With the court's injunction, Thailand cannot resist the plan anymore but it is the duty of the Foreign Ministry and the new government to convince the Army to comply. Unfortunately, relations between Pheu Thai and the military are never good.

Another complicated issue is the Boeing 737 seized by a German court over an investment conflict with a German construction firm, Walter Bau. The case is being considered by the court.

The jet is not a normal one, since it is often flown by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. HRH the Crown Prince made clear he understands the situation, but it is the duty of the new foreign minister to employ his or her diplomatic skills to try to get the plane released.

Further, the new minister has to balance foreign policy and the demands of Pheu Thai Party's de facto leader, Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled overseas just prior to being convicted of corruption by a Thai court.

Thaksin's legal status is that of a fugitive and he has sought asylum in many countries, including the United Arab Emirates and some in Asean. The new foreign minister may face pressure from the opposition and many of Thaksin's enemies to hunt him and bring him to justice.

Abhisit's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya spent a lot of his time in office hunting Thaksin, but failed to get him sent back. The outgoing regime suffered bad relations with Cambodia because of its efforts to bring Thaksin to justice over the years.

Handling Thaksin's case will be difficult for the new foreign minister and a hard one to explain to the public. For example, what do they do and what do they say if Thaksin wants to get back diplomatic and official passports revoked by Abhisit's government?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Supporters Plan Birthday Bash for Thaksin

The Pheu Thai Party and its supporters throughout the country are planning a huge bash to celebrate the 62nd birthday of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra tomorrow.

Pheu Thai MP Singthong Buachum held a press conference to announce plans for the 62nd birthday bash for Thaksin Shinawatra tomorrow.

The celebration is centered on the theme of 'Bringing the good guy back.'

Singthong stated that a separate ceremony will be held in all four regions of the country.

In the central region, participants will make merit and pray for the former PM at Kaew Fah Temple in Nonthaburi Province.

He stressed that the event has nothing to do with the Pheu Thai Party and the red-shirt group.

However, the Pheu Thai Party has also scheduled merit-making for Thaksin at the same temple on the same day.

The event's organizer, Pairat Chaicharn, said participants will give alms to 109 monks.

At the same time, Thaksin has also sent his offerings to the monks from Dubai.

Pairat confirmed his event is a collaboration between the Pheu Thai Party and the red-shirt group.

He added that Thaksin has prepared a big surprise for his supporters on his birthday.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Britain Asks Thai Authorities To DNA Test Professor in Kirsty Jones Murder Enquiry

British police have asked the Department of Special Investigations to DNA test a Thai University professor to rule him out of an investigation into who killed and raped a young Welsh university graduate in Chiang Mai.

Officers of Dyfed-Powys Police in Mid-Wales, seeking closure on the brutal attack on 23-yr-old Kirsty Jones in the Aree Guest House in Chiang Mai in August 2000, wish to clear up ‘rumours’ relating to the Professor which have been widely broadcast on the internet.
The move follows the DSI’s reluctance three years ago to follow a British request to do a mass DNA  testing in the Chiang Mai area.
The lecturer in question, it has been alleged, was the ‘second man’ seen hanging around outside the Aree guest house in the early hours of the morning she was murdered. 
The person reportedly accompanying him, a Thai tourist policeman, has already been DNA tested and did not match the DNA profile of the killer.
The mother of Kirsty Jones and Welsh police officer Chief Superintendent Steve Wilkins (on the left in the picture with a Scene of Crimes officer in Chiang Mai) and Detective Superintendent Steve Hughson of Dyfed-Powys police have been frustrated at the lack of progress in the investigation which in 2005 was handed over to the DSI by Chiang Mai police. The matter was raised in the British parliament.
Both the DSI and Dyfed-Powys police have a complete DNA profile of who they believe is the killer. The profile is of a man of Asian origin which was known even when Thai police were arresting a series of foreigners.
The request for a new DNA test was made several weeks ago after an Australian former resident of Chiang Mai made the claims on video which he put up on YouTube . He has stated he is willing to talk to Australian Federal Police.
British police are cautious of the latest ‘lead’. The claims come from a foreigner who became totally disenfranchised with the country after his stay here and may be mendacious. Other items which he put up on the internet would almost certainly result in a charge of lese majeste if he were to return.
The Australian submitted a short on-camera video onto Youtube identifying where the academic works and stated: 
“I have enough reason to believe he killed the Welsh lady back in 2000. He is the younger brother of the Inspector of Tourist Police at the time of the murder. The DSI have all the details but they will not act in case I was wrong.  I will not remove this from the internet until the British Embassy oversees a DNA test of the lecturer.”

The video was captioned: ‘How to Get Thai Police to Solve a Murder’.  The video has now been removed from the internet.

Contacted by email the Australian said he knew the tourist policeman very well. In fact the policeman's girlfriend became his girlfriend. His motorbike was in the policeman's name and his son used to borrow it a lot.
He said he gave the policeman a CD with copies of newspaper stories referring to a tourist policeman being at the murder scene at the time with another person.

The Aree Guest House. It has now been renamed.
Following that, he said, that the University professor had turned up uninvited many times when he was talking to his friendly policeman.  On the last occasion, he said, the professor had invited him to a party, but he refused, because he was scared to go, and the professor smacked him hard twice on his leg.  The policeman intervened and told the University professor to ‘cool it’.
He said he had confronted the lecturer with the accusation. The professor had reacted angrily and this was part of his decision to leave Thailand.

Tourist police dining out at a German restaurant in Chiang Mai in 2000
The tourist policeman in question was and is very well known to foreign bar owners in Chiang Mai, and is known for dropping in at many bars and guest houses for a drink.
Nearly two years ago he was filmed for the British TV series ‘Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand’ helping foreigners with their problems in Chiang Mai, but the producers say they had to drop most of the footage because he did not fit in with the programme and image of police it was attempting to portray.
Police hope the Professor will voluntarily provide samples for DNA testing. That way , Glynn and Sue Jones, the parents of the murdered girl , Gareth, her brother, Welsh police would not lose further sleep believing that not every stone had been turned.
Kirsty’s mother (right), Mrs Sue Jones, from Tredomen, Brecon visited Thailand in 2005 with Dyfed-Powys Police in the hope of creating new interest in the enquiry. 
All said they were impressed with the hospitality and sympathy afforded by the Thai people, but remained puzzled as to why the murder could not be solved.
The original investigation into the murder of Kirsty Jones was marred by a series of incidents after which a British Embassy official, was quoted by the 'Nation' as saying the investigation was ‘shambolic’. The Embassy later denied it had issued such a statement.
Press and non-forensic police were allowed to trample over the crime scene, a Karen tourist guide claimed he was kidnapped and tortured by police in an attempt to extract a confession, the owner  of the guest house Briton Andy Gill, and the manager Surin Chanpranet, were initially jointly charged with the murder, but had to be released when they did not fit the DNA match.

To cap it all Chiang Mai police at one stage enraged public sentiment in Britain when they issued a speculative statement saying Ms Jones was probably a willing participant until her guest demanded anal sex which she refused.
Later it was revealed that Andy Gill has been sent £12,000 by his father to help with his release. Chiang Mai provincial police later held a press conference to say that 'Mem' Kasemjit, Gill's girlfriend stole the cash.

Andy Gill's girlfriend 'Mem' with the cash. She is now married to a Scot and lives in the U.K
In a speech to the British Parliament in June 2007 Roger Williams, M.P. for Brecon said he was unhappy with the work done on the case by the DSI.
‘Dyfed-Powys police have constantly to suggest lines of enquiry to the DSI,” he said, ‘It is a constant struggle to obtain accurate information from the Thai authorities. It appears that action takes place only after pressure is placed on the Thai authorities by the UK Police, the family, or the Foreign Office.
“I have come here to ask (the British Government) to lobby the Thai authorities to put maximum effort into bringing the perpetrators of the crime to justice, bring closure to the family and make Thailand a safer place for young people and tourists to visit.”
He said Kirsty’s parents had asked him to express their frustration adding that a request by Welsh Police for a mass DNA screening in the Chiang Mai area had never materialised.
Ian McCartney, Britain’s Minister of State, Trade and Investment, said he wished to assure the family that an investigation into the murder continued.  He would not wish to comment on the professionalism of foreign police forces. “I need to maintain good relations”.
He wished to remind Parliament of the mission statement of the British Foreign Office – “To work for UK interests in a safe, just, and prosperous world.”

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Thailand's Expo 2020 campaign gathers pace

The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is moving aggressively to promote the country as host of the World Exposition in 2020 after large numbers of Thais got behind its latest campaign, a competition to design the official mascot and logo.

The bureau yesterday announced the winners for both the logo and mascot, Suphap Roungsean, 41, and Parin Suriyavuth, 26, respectively.

The bureau had been encouraging the public to participate in the campaign since June and received more than 1,000 entries. The entries were narrowed down to 720 ideas and then to just 10 - five for the logo and five for the mascot - in the final round.

Suphap's idea was a green planet shape with a Thai prajamyam design, while Parin won the logo competition with a Thai kinnaree: a female angel-like figure representing feminine beauty and grace.

Each of the winners will receive Bt100,000 cash, a certificate and a trophy.

Panidol Jayapani, vice president of the Advertising Association of Thailand (AAT), said all participants had to feature five key messages and elements of the theme "Redefine Globalisation - Balanced Life, Sustainable Living".

TCEB president Akapol Sorasuchart said he would return to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) today to report on progress since the launch last September of Thailand's bid to become host country of World Expo in 2020.

"Since the government approved the project, there have been no disagreements from anybody. Moreover, 400 private organisations will support the project, which is a very good sign," Akapol said.

Only Turkey is a serious competitor, he said, and it was launching campaigns to compete with Thailand.

Chanin Donavanik, chief executive officer of Dusit International, one of the largest hotel chain operators in Thailand, said that if the country were able to host World Expo 2020, the entire country would gain a lot of hospitality-related business.

Moreover, the event would help boost the country's image, particularly as an exhibition centre.

"Over the past 10 years, Thailand has never hosted any really global events, except Royal Flora five years ago. If we are able to run the World Expo, it would help the entire economy," Chanin said.

He added that most neighbouring countries had developed new attractions and events to draw international visitors and Thailand should respond in kind to remain tourists' preferred destination.

Piyaman Tejapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said Thailand had been the most popular destination in the region for many years.

The council expects to see about 19 million arrivals next year, similar to the figure officially predicted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Thai election agency endorses more MPs, including Red Shirt leaders

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BANGKOK, July 22 -- Thailand's Election Commission (EC) late Thursday endorsed 32 more candidates for seats in parliament as winning MPs, including leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirt movement, according to EC Secretary General Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn.

Mr Suthiphon said the agency took some 10 hours to consider complaints against winning candidates, finally dropping the complaints, and endorsed the third batch of 32 MPs -- six party-list members and 26 constituency-based MPs.

Pheu Thai Party MPs in the party-listed category that were endorsed include former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai and Red Shirt leaders Weng Tojirakan, Wuphuthalaeng Pattanabhumthai, Korkaew Pikulthong, Wichian Khaokham and Pichit Cheunban.

Three other Red Shirt leaders who were winning candidates on the party list and remain suspended are Natthawut Saikua, Jatuporn Prompan who is detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, and Payab Pankate, and they must wait until the commission completes its investigation into whether they broke election laws, according to complaints filed against them.

Karun Hosakul, elected MP for Bangkok Constituency 12 of Pheu Thai Party was also suspended due to many complaints, he said.

A total of 402 MPs from 500 seats have been endorsed by EC so far -- 285 constituency seats and 117 as party-list MPs.

Ninety-eight winning MPs were still not yet acted upon -- eight party-listed candidates and 90 for constituency-based candidates.

To meet the minimum constitutional requirement of 475 seats, at least 73 more MPs must be endorsed for the first meeting of the Lower House of Parliament to be able to take place.

The EC meets Friday to consider whether 'yellow' or 'red' cards will be issued against any winning candidate. Yellow cards were given to Somkid Banthaising, winning candidate of the Pheu Thai Party in Nong Khai Constituency 2 and Jakkawan Chaiwiratnukul, the Bhumjaithai Party's winning candidate in Sukhothai Constituency 3.

A new election in the constituency will be held on July 31.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Thailand's Irresistible Attraction for Fugitives

BANGKOK — Give me your drug dealers, your money launderers, your felons on the lam yearning to breathe free. ...
Viktor Bout after his arrest in Thailand in 2010.

Thailand has never advertised itself as a beacon for fugitives, but the world’s wretched refuse — to tweak the noble words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty — seem to show up here in droves.
Millions of tourists, most of them presumably without criminal records, travel to Thailand every year, drawn by the good food, lively night life and crystal waters. Fugitives come for the same reasons — plus the prospect, for some, of outliving a statute of limitations.
“Thailand has traditionally been one of the top source countries for extradition of criminals to the U.S.,” reads a March 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy obtained by WikiLeaks. The cable lists the wide variety of fugitives nabbed in Thailand over the years: child molesters, narcotics traffickers, money launderers and cybercriminals, among others.
The cable, which was sent from the embassy in Bangkok, counts 135 defendants extradited from Thailand to the United States in the past three decades and dozens more people “directly deported.”
But a scan of recent headlines in Thailand suggests that the U.S. fugitives are but a footnote on a long rap sheet of globe-trotting felons on the loose.
In the past two years, the news media here have reported the arrest in Thailand of Germans wanted for fraud and tax evasion; a man suspected of being a South Korean mafia boss; Czech bank robbers convicted of stealing several million euros (and who fled to Thailand after jumping bail while their case was under appeal); Pakistani passport forgers; a convicted Filipino murderer who was the most wanted man in the Philippines but worked in Bangkok as a jeweler; a French drug trafficker who thought he could elude the police by using his brother’s passport; the head of Japan’s second-largest organized crime syndicate; an Israeli fugitive convicted of double murder in Belgium and traveling on a forged Maldives passport; an Indian man wanted for sending a bevy of fraudulent spam; an Australian suspected of murdering a family of three; and a seemingly countless number of pedophiles.
Add to the list Viktor Bout, suspected of being an international arms dealer, who was extradited to the United States in November after a protracted legal battle in Thailand.
Many criminals seem to find refuge in Pattaya, the seedy seaside resort southeast of Bangkok known for its vast stretches of girly bars. A separate U.S. cable from 2005 said U.S. fugitives had “taken up residence in Pattaya over the years, along with people who should be getting treatment for mental illness, but are not.”
Thailand’s freewheeling society, its pliant law enforcement and a joie de vivre at budget prices are the powerful magnets for the dregs of many countries, says John Burdett, a British author of crime novels set in Thailand that delve into the country’s underworld.
“There are a number of minor reasons and one very major one why the jet-setting underground would find Thailand irresistible,” Mr. Burdett said in an e-mail. “The minor ones would include guns, girls, gambling, ganja and gorgeous beaches, especially for those recently released from confinement.”
But what makes Thailand especially attractive, Mr. Burdett said, “is the international reputation, whether deserved or not, of a compliant and bribable police force.”
Thailand’s leaders have long acknowledged that there are bad apples — some would say orchards of bad apples — among the police.
Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai, the head of the country’s immigration police, said in an interview that officials at remote border posts had been known to suffer inexplicable computer troubles when cash-rich people sought to cross Thai borders illegally.
“Officers at small border checkpoints would break the computers and let them in,” General Wiboon said.
The U.S. cables point to weak law enforcement, a country preoccupied with political problems and inconvenient geography.
“Thailand’s borders are long and extremely porous and the country is therefore vulnerable to international criminal elements of all kinds,” said the cable from 2009.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Six booby traps waiting to blow a hole in Yingluck's government

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Every fairy tale has to end with an inauguration ceremony of some kind.

The simple reason why is that all hell usually breaks loose afterwards. To Yingluck Shinawatra, the Election Commission has presented either the final obstacle to what is seen by some as a romantic political journey, or the first real glimpse of what lies beyond the shower of flowers, cheers and adulation from her supporters.

Yesterday's belated endorsement by the EC shattered the slight possibility that the inauguration might collapse and she might be mercifully spared all the menace knocking on the prime ministerial door. Already, her Pheu Thai Party is admitting that a "big mess" awaits Thailand's first female leader, and, for all its tendency to exaggerate, this one is a spot-on assessment. Where Pheu Thai is possibly wrong is the assumption that the looming misery is something exclusively left behind by the Democrats.

Whether Abhisit Vejjajiva's party is to be blamed, or the "big mess" originated from somewhere else, a floodgate of serious problems is set to open sooner rather than later. Dealing with them will not be easy, but first she will have to prioritise them, which is equally difficult.

Here's my little bit to help. It is not a "Dos and Don'ts" list. Some problems will definitely come whether she courts them or not. It's just the way things are after a fairy tale. This severity ranking, which, of course, is subjected to possible changes, is my thought on what Yingluck should be afraid, or very afraid, of:

Wealth declaration. This is by no means a Democrat mess. Yingluck said a lot during Thaksin's assets trial and she could now get entangled in her own words. One may get away with millions of baht, or even tens of millions of baht, that went missing between then and now, but hundreds of millions of baht would be hard to ignore and easy to trace. If she said she owned something back then, she could be asked where that something is now. One mistake and she could be accused of perjury or indicted for filing a false assets report.
Severity rating: 8

The Cabinet landmines. How many red shirts will be ministers? How to choose a new chief of defence that won't send the over-sensitive Thai military ballistic? How can she avoid, or conceal, Thaksin's fingerprints in the Cabinet set-up? Who should be the foreign minister, with so many hot potatoes waiting?

Good news is, a Cabinet can always be formed against all odds. Bad news is, when a government becomes weak immediately, this is when seeds of instability are irretrievably planted.
Severity rating: 7

The amnesty death trap. Yingluck can't get enough warnings over this. Even some of her moderate supporters have begun to agree that any attempt to absolve Thaksin Shinawatra, no matter how well and seemingly fairly it is plotted, will shove the new government to the brink.

In an interview aired by TPBS on Monday night, Thaksin was asked why he couldn't just "do a Nelson Mandela" and get it over with. He reiterated he would never spend a single day in jail for a crime he said he did not commit. The impasse, therefore, remains, but that doesn't mean Yingluck has to bridge it. She will have to resist the strong urge and pressure to absolve him, though.
Severity rating: 9

The impossible promises. So much fuss has been made about the "impracticality" of Pheu Thai's economic and welfare pledges, like Thais have never been lied to. Truth is, "It's all about Thaksin, stupid". As long as Yingluck doesn't touch the amnesty, she can go on breaking her election promises all day and the most she'll lose is her face, not her job.
Severity rating: 3

The black Cambodian comedy. Good news is, the yellow shirts are virtually blaming the outgoing Abhisit government for everything related to our eastern neighbour. Bad news is, the Democrat leader never hugged Hun Sen so passionately and spent quality time with the Phnom Penh head's innermost circle.

More good news is, the Democrat leader never hugged Hun Sen so passionately and spent quality time with the Phnom Penh head's innermost circle. (Yes, you read it right. All I'm saying is "the hug" can either be good for Yingluck, or blow up in her face if things go seriously wrong between the two countries).

Latest signs from the International Court of Justice suggest it is too diplomatic to embarrass either country, and at least a year will pass before the ICJ "clarifies" its 1962 Preah Vihear Temple verdict.

But Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon remain in Cambodian jail and doubts remain over whether they will accept Thaksin's helping hand.

All in all, there will be occasional excitement, but nothing that smart diplomacy can't handle. As long as the Yingluck government doesn't give Cambodia a lucrative something, like a gas concession, while conceding Thai border "sovereignty", that is.
Severity rating: 6

The Thaksin big bang. This is last but not least. Contacts with the man when Pheu Thai was in opposition were one thing, but flying to see him, having him phone in, or letting him publicly dispense advice to the government from now on could trigger a catastrophe.

Yingluck and many Pheu Thai members will be "state officials" in a few days and Thaksin remains a fugitive convict. Every law requires her to find his whereabouts or seek his arrest, and her opponents will take full advantage of that. They will keep their radar on around the clock, not for whether she will fulfil that obligation, but for whether she or other government officials are keeping in contact with him.

Fair or unfair, this is potentially a nuke that could blow the new government away. All it'll take to detonate is a wayward Cabinet member found in Dubai or Brunei or a loose-tongued justice minister who announces "I talked to him last night."
Severity rating 10

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Thaksin rules out serving jail term

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In his latest interview, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has ruled out serving jail term, saying he will have to "stand for justice" by not accepting 'unfair' legal action against him.

Speaking to Thai PBS in a special interview aired Monday night, Thaksin said he was not fighting for himself but for the justice system as a whole.

"I stand for justice," Thaksin said, using the English words in his Thai-language interview.

He said he could not accept the two-year jail term against him because he regarded that case was unfair for him from the beginning.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office ruled that Thaksin had abused his authority to help his ex-wife, Kunying Pojaman na Pomphet, buy a Ratchadapisek land prom.

"The case was not fair from the beginning," Thaksin said. "They made my political opponents the investigators against me. And the investigative panel was set up with an order by the coup makers, who toppled me."

Thaksin said he had actually been punished by having to live in exile for over five years.

When the interviewer asked him about what he thought his mistakes during his two terms as the prime minister, Thaksin apologised to Muslims in the southern border provinces for having using violence in dealing with violence in the deep South.

"When we are in power for a long time, sometimes we may use power too much," Thaksin said.

He said he was sorry for having resorted to violence in his attempts to return peace to the region.

During the interview, Thaksin mostly focused on the reconciliation.

He said he would follow the example of former rebel leader and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela to use sports as a tool to bring about reconciliation and unity in Thailand.

Thaksin said Mandela used rugby as a sport to reunite the nation but he would use the campaign to push Thai national football team as a campaign to create unity in the country.

Thaksin said he, as a victim, would be the one to start reconciliation.

He said he has already forgiven his political enemies.

When the interviewer asked him how could he have forgotten his enemies after they had done so much against him, Thaksin replied that he has learnt the way of detachment.

"Life is so short so why should we remain angry against each other," Thaksin said.

He said he was ready to show he had forgiven his enemies by inviting all of his enemies to have coffee with him in Dubai.

"I'll pay for their coffee. Let them meet me here," Thaksin said.

He said he was ready to meet both former Army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin and People's Alliance for Democracy co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul for a coffer session in Dubai.

He denied that Sondhi had already met him or talked to him over the phone.

Monday, 18 July 2011

UN court orders Thai and Cambodian troop withdrawal

THE HAGUE, July 18, 2011  - The UN's highest court Monday ordered Thailand and Cambodia to immediately withdraw their troops from a disputed area around an ancient temple on the border between the two Asian neighbours.

"Both parties should immediately withdraw their military personnel currently present in the provisional demilitarised zone and refrain from any military presence within that zone," said the order, read by International Court of Justice president Judge Hisashi Owada at a sitting in The Hague.

"Having noted that the temple area had been the scene of armed clashes between the parties and that such clashes may reoccur, the court decided... there was an urgent need for the presence of all armed forces to be temporary excluded from a provisional demilitarised zone around the area of the temple," the judge said.

Cambodia in late April launched a bitter legal battle before the ICJ in which it asked for an interpretation of a 1962 ICJ ruling around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple.

It also asked the court, while judges were pondering that request, to approve provisional measures including an immediate Thai troop withdrawal and a ban on all Thai military activity there.

Although Thailand does not dispute Cambodia's ownership of the temple, secured by the 1962 ruling, both Phnom Penh and Bangkok claim the 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) area surrounding the Khmer complex.

In February the United Nations appealed for a permanent ceasefire after 10 people were killed in fighting near the Khmer complex.

However fresh clashes broke out in April further west, leaving 18 dead and prompting 85,000 civilians to flee.

The court Monday urged the two countries to continue to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come to an agreement to allow observers representing the 10-nation bloc to have access to the provisional demilitarised zone around the temple.

"Both parties should refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the court or make it more difficult to resolve," the court added.

The UN's highest court Monday also ordered Thailand not to obstruct Cambodia's free access to the Preah Vihear complex or prevent Cambodia from taking fresh supplies to its non-military personnel there.

Cambodia said although there had been clashes in the past, Thai aggression substantially increased after July 2008, when the UN's cultural body UNESCO listed the temple as a World Heritage site.

The 11th-century complex has been at the centre of a long legal wrangle between Thailand and Cambodia -- which first took its southeastern Asian neighbour to the ICJ in 1959 over the issue.

Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Monday his country would honour the ICJ ruling.

"We are satisfied in the sense that the decision of the withdrawal of the troops is applicable to both Cambodia and Thailand," he told reporters afterwards.

Established in 1945, the ICJ is the UN's highest judicial organ and it settles disputes between states. It is the only one of six principal UN organs not located in New York.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Pheu Thai has evidence to prove Democrat violated electoral law

BANGKOK, 17 July 2011 (NNT)-Pheu Thai Spokesperson Mr. Prompong Nopparit said more evidence to support its claim against the Democrat for violating electoral law would be submitted to the Election Commission of Thailand.

According to the claim by Pheu Thai, the Blue Flag event, which was held in Samut Prakan province a day before the advance voting day, was considered cheating. Pheu Thai Spokesperson further added that the event was staged to gain supports from the people.

Pheu Thai has already filed a complaint to the EC against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Commerce Miniter Pornthiva Nakasai and the Secretary- General of Bhumijai Thai for breaking the election law.

Mr. Prompong added that the EC should consider the case based on the fact that the accused were government officials at the time the event was held. He said later that by 19 July 2011, Pheu Thai would reveal video clips and photos regarding the matter for the EC to use in investigating the truth.

Thaksin could accept brief imprisonment in his reconciliation plan

BANGKOK, 17 July 2011 (NNT)- Democrat Party MP Attaporn Ponlaboot explained that even though the red shirt activist had prepared a compelling case against the election commission during the investigation of election’s result, he believed that the red shirt political group will not make a move since some of the group’s mainstay and fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra appeared to be emphasizing on reconciliation plan, this however had disappointed part of the red shirt activists.

Mr.Attaporn elaborated that the methods of Thaksin’s reconciliation plan might have undergone a discussion with every department, with an intention to return to the country without an amnesty but a month or 15 days of imprisonment to whitewash the faults so that Thaksin Shinawatra will be able to join politics once again. However, if the reconciliation method’s of Thaksin Shinawatra is as assumed, Democrat party will have no rights to interfere with decisions made but it is strongly believed that the politics in the country would experience more unrest.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Monks teach maleness to Thai 'ladyboys'

CHIANG KHONG, July 16, 2011 (AFP) - The 15-year-old aspiring "ladyboy" delicately applied a puff of talcum powder to his nose -- an act of rebellion at the Thai Buddhist temple where he is learning to "be a man".

"They have rules here that novice monks cannot use powder, make-up, or perfume, cannot run around and be girlish," said Pipop Thanajindawong, who was sent to Wat Kreung Tai Wittaya, in Chiang Khong on the Thai-Laos border, to tame his more feminine traits.

But the monks running the temple's programme to teach masculinity to boys who are "katoeys", the Thai term for transsexuals or ladyboys, have their controversial work cut out.

"Sometimes we give them money to buy snacks but he saved it up to buy mascara," headteacher Phra Pitsanu Witcharato said of Pipop.

Novice monks' days pass as in any other temple -- waking before dawn, collecting alms and studying Buddhism -- but every Friday attention turns to the katoeys at the attached school.

"Were you born as a man or a woman or can you not specify your gender - not man or woman?" asked Phra Pitsanu at a recent assembly. "You cannot be anything else but your true gender, which is a man. As a novice you can only be a man."

The temple has a stricter interpretation than others of rules governing behaviour during Buddhist training that is a key childhood experience for many Thai boys.

Pupils are banned from using perfume and make-up and prohibited from singing, playing music and running.

"We cannot change all of them but what we can do is to control their behavior to make them understand that they were born as a man... and cannot act like a woman," said Phra Pitsanu.

The Kreung Tai temple has run the course for boys aged between 11 and 18 since 2008, after former principle Phra Maha Vuthichai Vachiramethi devised the programme because he thought reports of katoeys in the monkhood had "affected the stability of Thai Buddhism".

He told AFP that he hopes the teaching methods will be rolled out to other temple schools to "solve the deviant behavior in novices".

It is an attitude that enrages gay rights and diversity campaigner Natee Teerarojanapong, who said trying to alter the boys' sense of gender and sexuality was "extremely dangerous".

"These kids will become self-hating because they have been taught by respected monks that being gay is bad. That is terrible for them. They will never live happily," he told AFP.

Gay and katoey culture is visible and widely tolerated in Thailand, which has one of the largest transsexual populations in the world, and Natee said the temple's programme is "very out of date".

But Phra Atcha Apiwanno, 28, disputed the idea that society accepted ladyboys and said he joined the monkhood because of social stigma about his sexual identity.

"The reason I became a monk is to train my habits, to control my expression... I didn't want to be like this," he told AFP.

Monks have had limited success in their project -- three of the six ladyboys to have graduated from the school are said to have embraced their masculinity, but the remaining three went on to have sex changes.

Pipop said he has struggled with his sexuality at the temple.

At home in Bangkok he dressed like a girl, putting on make-up and taking hormones until he developed breasts, but he has since stopped the treatment and wears only a surreptitious dab of powder at the temple.

He does not believe he will live up to his family's hopes that he will become more manly.

"I can make them proud even I'm not a man," the teenager said, adding he had given up his ambition to be an airhostess and now aspires to work in a bank.

He thinks he will have a sex change after graduation.

"Once I leave the monkhood the first thing I want to do is to shout, to scream out loud saying: 'I can go back to being the same again!'"

Friday, 15 July 2011

TrueVisions in major expansion of HD services

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TrueVisions, the leading subscription-based cable-television operator, has announced an expansion of high-definition services in a bid to broaden its subscriber base.

Managing director Thiti Nantapastsri said yesterday that the company until now had operated three HD channels - Reality HD, HBO HD and True Sport HD - as a pilot project via its digital fibre-optic cable network.

The service has now been expanded to 11 channels, offering a wide range of information, knowledge, music and entertainment programmes.

The eight additional channels are TrueSport HD2, National Geographic HD, Discovery HD World, Star Movies HD, Fox Family Movies HD, AXN HD, KMTV HD and IConcerts HD.

The service area for the HD channels now covers most of Bangkok and surrounding areas, as well as Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Rayong, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Songkhla, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan and Ubon Ratchathani provinces.

Chief commercial officer Ongard Prapakmol said the company expected the HD service to be available in 19 provinces in total by the end of the year.

Though the new service remains limited to subscribers to the fibre-optic cable network, it will also be available to satellite customers next year, with the goal of covering more than 2 million households in total within the next two years, he said.

Thiti said the service expansion would help the company achieve its revenue target of Bt10 billion this year, which would represent a 20-per-cent annual increase.

In the first quarter, the company generated Bt700 million in revenue from spot advertising, he added.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A new storm brewing?

Thailand will remain in suspense until Tuesday, when the Election Commission will decide on suspended PM-to-be Yingluck

Dark clouds continue to hover over Thai politics, and the saying that Thais have been cursed to live with one political suspense after another is not an overstatement. Over the next six days, the whole country will once again have to hold its collective breath, this time over whether the possibility of having its first female prime minister will be shattered. Yingluck Shinawatra has been "suspended" by the Election Commission, and the fragile political peace depends on the further actions of the EC, which will be made public on Tuesday.

The EC bombshell - its decision to delay endorsing Yingluck, outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and 14 other party-list candidates as MPs - may prove overblown if the panel was simply reacting to complaints against the affected politicians as it traditionally does. But it may turn earth-shaking if the 16 - particularly Yingluck - remain unendorsed next week. The bad news for Yingluck is that while it is not unusual for the EC to delay endorsing accused candidates (who are normally confirmed later), it has never before acted against party-list winners in this way.

An upsetting situation

Disqualifying Yingluck alone would be enough to send red-shirt protesters back onto the streets. But on Tuesday, the EC did more than just suspend Yingluck. Several red-shirt leaders on Pheu Thai's party list did not get endorsement, a situation that is upsetting the entire red-shirt apparatus. The movement yesterday decided to postpone next week's concert at Lumpini Park so it can "charge the battery" for a new rally if something bad happens to Yingluck and the red candidates.

The delay has cast a shroud of uncertainty over the process of convening the new House of Representatives and the election of the new prime minister. The law requires a quorum of at least 475 MPs to convene the House, whereas only 358 election winners have been endorsed. However, since the law allows the EC to "endorse first and disqualify later", analysts believe the new House could convene in time, within 30 days of the July 3 election.

But even if the 475-MP quorum is met, Yingluck must be in it to prevent turmoil. If she is disqualified, the Pheu Thai Party can nominate another party-list winner for the prime minister post. Parliamentary problems can be dealt with, but those on the streets may not be as easy to solve.

Yingluck has reportedly been cleared of vote-buying after charges involving her cooking noodles for her supporters were dropped. But the EC has kept alive more serious and potentially more damaging charges concerning her involvement with banned politicians during the election campaign. She mentioned the "advisory" role of her brother Thaksin many times during the campaign, and election posters depicting her as Pheu Thai's prime ministerial candidate blatantly declared: "Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai does".

The Democrats, it seems, are not in much better shape. If Abhisit is found guilty of vote-buying - his case is related to a government-sponsored sales event on an advanced voting day - they may face a party dissolution saga all over again. Some pro-red critics claim Abhisit was put among those unendorsed only to make the whole list look unbiased. However, there are analysts who believe Tuesday's EC action was intended to sweep both camps away to pave the way for a new political order.

Whether or not a conspiracy to rid both the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties of their key figures is brewing, the EC is not in a sound position either. The charges against the red-shirt leaders on the party list, in particular, are complicated and may be subject to serious loopholes. The panel may have become as vulnerable as the people it has suspended, and history is not on the commission's side when it comes to legal counterattacks by its so-called victims. Former commissioners have been jailed for malfeasance.

Yingluck may survive this easily if the "EC is just observing tradition" theory is correct. But whatever the EC's motives, this post-election saga has provided her with the first real glimpse of what lies ahead. If or once she's officially elected prime minister, a floodgate of political problems is likely to open. Her testimonies in the Thaksin assets case will come back to haunt her almost immediately, and experts believe that what she said during that trial may even match the EC's announcement on Tuesday in terms of loopholes.

Excess use of 'emergency' pills

Eight million packets of "emergency" contraceptive pills are bought over the counter each year - many by under-age girls, academics revealed at a seminar in Bangkok yesterday.

They urged health officials to teach young women about proper use of the pills, which have more hormones than normal contraceptive pills, because many teenagers look to be using them in a bid to stop unwanted pregnancies.

Speaking at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel, Chulalongkorn University pharmacy lecturer Niyada Kiatying-angsulee quoted a "worrying" report that said pharmacies sold 8 million sets of emergency pills annually. She said this showed the pills were being used too often.

Thai teenagers also had misconceptions about the pills, such as believing that they were 100 per cent effective, when they only had efficacy of 70-90 per cent. They seemed to believe the pills could be used any time, but a person should not take them more than twice a month, she said.

Chulalongkorn obstetrics and gynaecology lecturer Dr Annop Jaisamram said there were misunderstandings while the number of women using the pills was growing - despite the fact they were meant to be for emergencies such as sexual assault or in the event of a broken condom.

Chulalongkorn Hospital got many patients with excessive menstrual bleeding who had said they took the emergency pill up to five times a month or two to three times a week, he said, urging that it must be used carefully.

Over-use of the pill might cause side effects more than just nausea or vomiting. And it could not stop young women getting pregnant, as it only extended the ovulation period, and would only be up to 90 per cent effective if taken promptly after sex.

Dr Kittipong Saejeng, director of the Health Department's reproductive-health office, said interviews at pharmacies by Chiang Mai University researchers found that nearly a third (30 per cent) of people buying the emergency pill were teens aged from 13-15.

A poll by Health Department officials in 2009 of youths from Prathom 6 up to vocational-college level found that 60 per cent of those who had used the emergency pill did so after their first sexual encounters.

Dr Kittipong said use of the emergency pill needed to be studied, and young people needed to be educated about proper usage.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Economists predict another rate hike tomorrow

Economists forecast that Thailand's monetary policy will continue to tighten for the rest of this year due to higher spending and rising inflation, and expect another hike in the policy interest rate by 25 basis points at tomorrow's Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

The MPC is widely expected to lift the policy rate tomorrow by a quarter of a percentage point to 3.25 per cent. The one-day bond repurchase rate has been raised four times this year.

"Inflationary pressures stemming from increased personal and government spending will likely build and could see the BOT [Bank of Thailand] accelerate its policy-interest-rate hikes to temper the higher inflation that could result," said Chow Penn Nee, a Singapore-based economist at United Overseas Bank (UOB).

Wellian Wiranto, Asia economist at HSBC, said: "A lot hinges upon the policy platform of the incoming administration. If highly populist measures are adopted, then there is definitely a risk that the Bank of Thailand will have to counterbalance them by embarking on monetary-policy tightening."

If minimum wages go up by a great extent early next year, the central bank may nudge up its policy rate to 4.25-4.5 per cent by mid-2012, he said.

Ramya Suryanarayanan, an economist at DBS Bank in Singapore, said the minimum wages should be raised in a gradual manner, not by 50 per cent a year.

"If such drastic changes are implemented, then there is risk of inflation, wider fiscal deficit, etc, which will ultimately hamper the ability to attract investment. Even otherwise, inflation is a problem in Thailand this year and next," she said.

DBS Research noted that comments so far from prime minister-elect Yingluck Shinawatra suggested the new government's policy might tend towards an expansion of subsidies, in line with electoral promises. This approach lends itself to suppressing inflation in the short term but fanning it in the medium term.

Meanwhile, a Reuters Poll shows that the policy rate should be 3.75 per cent by the end of the year, and DBS expects the rate to be 4 per cent by end-December.

There is a high chance for a rate hike in the MPC meeting given relative political stability after this month's election, making the BOT more comfortable with its interest-normalisation process, Wiranto said.

HSBC expects the policy rate to reach 3.75 per cent by the end of this year as the central bank continues to stem price pressures after the expiry of producer-price agreements in April.

"Given the inflation risks that it is already seeing, it is no surprise then that the BOT has been rather vocal in expressing its wariness about the further upside inflation risk: the populist measures by the incoming administration, that is," HSBC said in its research.

"Particularly discomforting, given the tight labour-market conditions, is the potential minimum-wage increase to Bt300 per day, which would nearly double the current level for some provinces. Hence, even as global uncertainties prevent it from pursuing meatier, 50-basis-point hikes, we see the BOT trying its best to counter these risks and to keep inflation expectations well anchored, by hiking rates by 25 basis points whenever it can."

UOB predicts one more move in the fourth quarter, which could take the rate to 3.5 per cent by year-end. The DBS Bank economist forecast the rate to take another 25-basis-point increase, after tomorrow's meeting, in the third quarter and a 50-basis-point rise in the fourth quarter to end the year at 4 per cen

Monday, 11 July 2011

Do and don't for Yingluck

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Being the first female prime minister doesn't give Yingluck Shinawatra the right to try economic or welfare stunts. That's what experts are telling the new government. In this special report, key economic policies are subject to a cost-benefit analysis.

The results echo concerns expressed elsewhere: some initiatives are fine, but others had better be left on the drawing board.

What she shouldn't do


Although a campaign promise, the Pheu Thai-led government should not bring back the rice-mortgage scheme, as the country's international prestige as a producer and exporter of high quality rice would be ruined in a flash.

The policy would undermine the Kingdom's competitive edge in the world market, as other exporting countries use Thai prices as their benchmark. With better yields, they can undercut Thai quotes. Thai rice may lose market share because faltering economies have caused consumers to focus on price rather than quality.

Exporters say the policy would discourage farmers from continuing to improve grain quality, as they could pawn their crops to the government at high prices without quality concerns.

It remains to be seen how the government could ensure that farmers will directly benefit from the scheme, as in the past, they suffered while millers were the real winners. A higher domestic price than in neighbouring countries would create smuggling problems from Cambodia and possibly Burma.

To promote sustainable development of rice, the government should concentrate on expanding the irrigation system and spending more on research and development of high quality, high yielding seeds.


Raising the minimum daily wage to Bt300 and the starting salary of new graduates to Bt15,000, beginning with state enterprises and the civil service, would squeeze SMEs, which make up more than 90 per cent of businesses, and in some cases close down. Skilled workers and other staff in companies would be encouraged to push for higher pay. Firms would have to shoulder higher welfare expenses in line with payroll increases.

Manufacturers are already offering attractive wages now, which may be higher than the government's current minimum wage, due to labour shortages. For new graduates, the private sector pays an average Bt8,000-Bt15,000, while new civil servants will get Bt9,100.

Unreasonable wages would force SMEs with limited working capital to shut down when they cannot absorb significant cost increases. Labour-intensive exporters such as garment and shoe makers would have to shift to nations with cheaper wages to stay competitive. Thailand would be less attractive to investors.

According to the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion, 2.9 million companies are SMEs and account for 99.6 per cent of all businesses in the country. SMEs employ 10.5 million people, or 78 per cent of the workforce. They generate Bt3.75 trillion a year, accounting for 37 per cent of economic value.

What factors did the party use as the basis for calculating its rates? Workers' compensation should be developed step-by-step instead of launched in one go nationwide. Partial increases should be scheduled over time to allow manufacturers to prepare a cost management plan for the future. The rates should also take into consideration the different levels of economic development among the provinces.

The policy could actually end up creating an unemployment problem.


If the government cuts corporate income tax from 30 to 23 per cent next year, it should also raise the value-added tax from 7 to 10 per cent, or 8-10 per cent. Or it should increase other taxes, or introduce new taxes. The alternative solution is a corporate tax cut accompanied by cancellation of tax incentives under the Board of Investment's promotional schemes. However, Pheu Thai has promised only a corporate tax cut. No tax hike has been mentioned to make up for the revenue shortfall.

The corporate tax cut and a tax cut for first-time car and home buyers would set the treasury back about Bt100 billion in lost revenue, while firms might not be helped much by the corporate tax cut in reducing costs, due to the higher wages.

Pheu Thai believes the tax cut would actually boost tax collections, as the tax base would be enlarged. This remains to be seen.

Tax cuts would also result in a wider deficit for next fiscal year. And as the government has many populist policies to implement, such as cheap loans, cheap homes, cheap cars and free computer tablets, state expenditure would balloon. Combined with the budget for mega projects, the government runs the risk of triggering a fiscal crisis in the near future.

The government may have some money to spend for two years, as debt has not yet reached an alarming level. But after that, many economists doubt it will have money to spend. Currently, public debt is about 41 per cent of GDP. It would be dangerous if it shot up to 50 per cent of GDP.

The government presented a false premise to voters - low taxes but generous welfare. The US is now facing severe debt trouble due to its huge budget deficits. Many economists warn that the US runs the risk of defaulting on its debt. Greece has already been forced to implement an austerity programme in exchange for a bailout from its public debt crisis. Many countries in the eurozone are on the brink of crisis because the |governments have accumulated high debts.


Academics do not agree with the Pheu Thai Party's "one tablet, one child" policy.

Some say it would be useless because tablets are only |hardware. Students would not learn anything without good software and academic content installed on them, while teachers do not know how to advise them to use the devices properly. Others say the tablets would be useless in rural areas especially where Internet coverage is not complete. Many see it as just a populist policy that helped the party win the election.

Another academic from Chulalongkorn University said personal tablets could make children become addicted to computer games and spend time with just themselves or a few friends.

Such a lifestyle would hinder children's physical and emotional development, he said.

Research shows most young children use computers for playing games and only 15 per cent use them as a learning tool. And research findings have confirmed that computer-game addiction was the reason behind so many dropouts.

He called on the government to choose the right age groups and train teachers on how to supervise their students' use of the tablets. Without careful planning, the handout would do more harm than good, he warned.

The policy promises to give a tablet to each Prathom 1 student. The devices could be bought from China or India for as little as Bt3,000-Bt5,000 apiece.

The party said it would start distributing the devices in January.


The landbridge project in the South is not worth the investment. What the country stands to gain would be only long-term ground leases to foreign investors who will be granted investment privileges.

To make the project worthwhile, not only should the rail link between Pak Bara Port in Satun on the West Coast and Songkhla Port in Songkhla on the East Coast be constructed, but also an oil refinery, oil depot, oil pipeline and petrochemical plants, according to a study of Dubai World.

Another downside is that the tourism industry in the southernmost provinces would be adversely affected.

What she should do


The central bank has strict rules governing the credit card business to prevent runaway consumer debt that could threaten financial stability. Under the rules, cardholders must show income of at least Bt15,000 a month or Bt180,000 a year. Commercial banks can charge only up to 20 per cent in annual interest - including penalties for overdue payments.

Most of the 6.9 million farm households will not meet the central bank's criterion since average family income was Bt58,632 in the 2009-10 crop year.

However, state banks could lower the bar in order to accommodate farmers with business cards. The specialised financial institutions supervised by the Finance Ministry use different accounting practices from commercial banks.

Luck Wajananawat, president of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), said the credit card project could be implemented. Many people would agree with Pheu Thai that the cards could be used to store data on farm production. It could also be used for other purposes in the future, such as for records on cash handouts in time of economic crisis.

However, the crucial point is that Pheu Thai said the cardholders need not pay interest when they use the card. It is absurd and means the government will fully subsidise interest payments. The BAAC is unlikely to shoulder such a cost. Currently the bank charges about 7-per-cent interest on farm loans.

Easy credit could create a moral hazard, as farmers may not spend their credit carefully. The government will also need to allocate a budget to support this scheme besides the budget needed to support its price subsidy scheme for farm products.

Many developing and advanced economies have paid a high price in terms of economic and social crises stemming from easy credit policies. The government should proceed carefully.


Pheu Thai shocked the energy market with its plan to abolish the Oil Fund. But its decision became palatable when it later decided also to end the Oil Fund levies on three products and to come up with other mechanisms to deal with energy prices in a broad picture.

Ending the fund would present problem, as it is in charge of moderating the prices of some products crucial for the masses like LPG and NGV. Yet, cutting the contributions from three products means the loss of only Bt120 million per day and it looks set to introduce other mechanisms. The fuel pricing formula will be changed to a lower ex-factory basis, which would eventually bring pump prices down. An oil reserve will be started and some petroleum concession royalties would be used to cover the subsidies.

But what the new government should really take into account is the fact that energy prices tend to move up, not down. A Thai Oil analysis shows that though oil prices will ease this year, they would remain above US$100 per barrel.

Subsidies must be scaled back so that energy is used at actual cost. Only then will real demand for alternative energy increase. Just remember that 90 per cent of energy consumed is imported to the tune over Bt1 trillion a year, or over 10 per cent of GDP. In the short term, it should also relieve all petrol users of all subsidies, if fairness is to be ensured.


Extending the mass transit system throughout Bangkok makes sense, especially the Blue Line (Bang Sue-Tha Phra and Bang Khae-Hua Lamphong sections) and Green Line (Bearing-Samut Prakan section). These extended lines will help connect with the existing two lines, BTS Skytrain and MRT subway, while the Red Line's Bang Sue-Taling Chan section and the Purple Line's Bang Yai-Bang Sue section are under construction.

These are projects that Pheu Thai should push ahead with to save energy and ease traffic congestion in the capital.

The government should also proceed with the high-speed train projects for both passengers and freight. Because of financing limitations, it should start with the priority rail routes or the routes that are most interesting to investors, such as the Bangkok-Korat-Khon Kaen-Nong Khai line. This route will connect with South China's high-speed railway, which will extend from Kunming via Vientiane in Laos to Thailand's Nong Khai. The property industry is most likely to experience a boom, especially in areas with stopover stations.

To reduce logistics costs, which amount to as much as almost 20 per cent of gross domestic product, the double-track rail routes are sorely needed. For the first phase, about six routes with a total length of 873 kilometres have been promised by Pheu Thai.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Naming of Thailand on new US terror risk list worrying

New govt should take a realistic view of latest rating: remain alert, watchful.
A recent announcement by the US Department of Homeland Security said that Thailand will be on a new terrorism-risk list. The department has classified Thailand among countries that are known to "promote, produce or protect terrorist organisations or their members".

Spokeswoman for the department Gillian Christensen said in a written statement that countries "may have been included on the list because of the backgrounds of arrestees, not because of the country's government itself".

Along with Thailand, three other US allies placed on the risk list are Egypt, Israel and the Philippines. In all there are 36 countries on this list of so-called Specially Designated Countries (SDCs) that "promote, produce, or protect terrorists".

Citizens from countries on this list who wish to travel to the US will be required to submit to a new "Third Agency Check". In real terms, it could very well mean additional security check or possibly stricter rules for Thai citizens requesting visas to the US.

Already there are numerous complaints about the difficulty of getting just a visa appointment with the US Embassy personnel. The red tape, the waiting list and the humiliating feeling of being rejected are some of the usual complaints. So much that Note Udom, a well known Thai comedian, even jokes about it.

As of now, what we know is that, according to the Department of Homeland Security, "The purpose of the additional screening is to determine whether other agencies have an interest in the alien."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi was reported as saying he was "surprised", because Thailand has consistently cooperated with the US on counter-terrorism efforts.

While no one can say that this will make Thailand look good, the government should be realistic about it. The list is not a criticism of the government's effort or handling of the global war on terrorism. It basically said there were activities in the 36 countries that needed watching.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, the then Thai government took a very selfish approach, maintaining that there were no terrorist cells operating in the country. The same line was employed even in the aftermath of the October 2002 terrorist attacks in Bali. The attack killed 202 people. While Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines were hunting down members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the Southeast Asia-based terrorist organisation, Thailand presented itself as being above it all, as if the country were, for some strange reason, an exception.

Thailand's denial was influenced by the government desire for tourist money. Our leaders understood the negative consequences, so they stood firm, insisting that Thailand was not a safe haven for international terrorists, following exposure in a string of Western media.

And then all of a sudden, in June 2003, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dropped a bomb, announcing the arrest of three Thai citizens accused of being JI members. It came as a big surprise to many, given the fact that Thailand had consistently dismissed mounting reports in the local and international media linking the country to global terrorism. The charges against the three were eventually dropped on the ground of insufficient evidence.

The fact that the announcement came on the eve of Thaksin's meeting with US President George W Bush, however, raised the question of whether the prime minister was doing the right thing for wrong reasons.

And then in August 2003, Hambali, a JI operative who is also a member of al Qaeda, was arrested in Ayutthya in a pre-dawn raid by Thai Special Branch and American CIA agents. The event was testimony to the fact that Thailand was no different and just as vulnerable as any other country in the region.

Today, we are living in a world where counter-terrorism measures have affected all of us. Longer queues at immigration counters, lengthy security checks at airports, and the profiling of citizens from various countries. It's no longer the action of a government that dictates the policy of another country. Terrorists know no borders and the recent US terrorism risk list is a sad reflection of the world we live in.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Bangkok named World’s Best City 2011 by leading travel magazine

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BANGKOK, July 9 -- Travel + Leisure Magazine has released its 2011 “World’s Best” list, with Bangkok voted as the top city in the world in the annual poll voted on by the American luxury travel magazine's readers, according to Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

Ranked top in both the World and Asia, scoring 90.49, Bangkok retains its number one ranking in the world for a second consecutive year after it was voted to Best City in 2008 and 2010.

In voting to choose the World's Best City, respondents were asked to rate sights, culture and the arts, restaurants and food, people, shopping, and value.

The results of Travel + Leisure’s 16th annual World’s Best Awards survey revealing readers’ favourite hotels, cities, islands, cruise lines, airlines, car-rental agencies, spas, and tour operators and safari outfitters.

Rounding out the top 10 on the "World's Best City" list are Florence, Rome, New York City, Istanbul, Cape Town, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Sydney, Barcelona and Paris.

In addition, the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok was voted the number one of Top City Hotel Award, The Peninsula was voted number four, and the Shangri-La number 19.

The top winners in each category will be honored at an awards ceremony on July 14 hosted by Editor in Chief Nancy Novogrod and VP/Publisher Jean-Paul Kyrillos at the new Mr C Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.

Gov Sukhumbhand will travel to New York to receive the award himself.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Thailand's Democrats seek ban on Thaksin party

BANGKOK, July 8, 2011  - Thailand's defeated Democrats launched a legal bid Friday to ban the victorious party of fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, threatening fresh political turmoil.

The move is sure to anger Thaksin's "Red Shirt" supporters, who were behind mass protests in Bangkok last year that turned deadly, and dents hopes of an end to years of political deadlock in the troubled kingdom.

But the legal process is expected to take several months at least to be completed and is not expected to prevent Thaksin's youngest sister Yingluck Shinawatra from becoming Thailand's first female prime minister.

The Democrat Party asked the Election Commission (EC) to pursue the abolition of Thaksin's Puea Thai Party, the winner of Sunday's election, on the grounds that banned politicians were involved in its campaign.

"We asked EC to recommend to the Constitutional Court to dissolve Puea Thai," Wiratana Kalayasiri, head of the Democrats' legal team, told AFP.

"The accusation is that Puea Thai allowed people subject to five-year political bans to become involved in policy planning, phone-ins and video addresses and also the selection of candidates," he said.

Two Thaksin parties have been dissolved by the courts in the past and their top executives, including the controversial former leader, were banned from politics.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.

Yingluck, however, is not a party executive so she should avoid a ban herself even if Puea Thai is dissolved, in which case she could in theory move to another party with other Puea Thai lawmakers.

Puea Thai lashed out at the Democrats' move and suggested it would retaliate with legal action of its own.

"The Democrats don't respect the people's decision. More than 16 million voted for Puea Thai," deputy party leader Plodprasob Suraswadi said.

"They're so confident in the judicial process, we'll have to revive our case against the Democrats too," he added.

The Democrats, led by outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, narrowly escaped a ban themselves in late 2010 over allegations of misuse of state funds and an illegal donation.

After two-and-a-half years in power, Abhisit resigned as leader of the establishment-backed Democrats on Sunday after his party clinched just 159 seats against Puea Thai's 265.

Yingluck, who is yet to be officially appointed by a new parliament, has formed a six-party coalition that will control about three fifths of the lower house seats, but the new cabinet line-up is yet to be announced.

Signs that the powerful military is ready to accept a Puea Thai-led government had raised cautious hopes that the country's various political factions might be ready to put aside their differences.

Yingluck faces a formidable task in bringing stability to a kingdom that has been plagued by political crises since her brother's overthrow.

She has floated the idea of an amnesty to allow Thaksin to return, which would anger many in the Bangkok-based elite around the palace and army and could prompt protests by the royalist "Yellow Shirt" movement.

Revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, seen as a unifying figure in a country that has been frequently riven by political violence, has been in hospital since September 2009, and discussion of his role is a long-standing taboo.

Yingluck said Friday that strict rules against insulting the monarchy should not be abused, following several high profile cases against government critics.

"I do not want to see the misuse of this law on lese majeste," she said, calling for legal discussion on the legislation, under which anybody convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Rift erupts in the red-shirt movement

The red-shirt movement appears split following the general election and a hardline faction has demanded for chairwoman Thida Thaworseth to step down, Thai Rath online reported on Thursday.

The rift came to light at a meeting on Wednesday when Thida scheduled to talk to key figures before holding a press conference on the movement's post-election stand.

Hardline figures, such as Prasaeng Mongkolsiri, Suporn Atthawong, Wisa Kanthap and Wipoj Apornrat, refused to meet Thida. Instead they designated Chinnawat Haboonpad as their representative.

At the meeting, Chinnawat questioned Thaida's leadership and demanded her resignation. He said Thida was no longer fit to lead the movement since her husband Weng Tojirakarn got elected under Pheu Thai Party's banner, hence triggering a conflic of interest between the party and the movement.

He proposed to revamp the movement, arguing that the red shirts needed a make-over in order to overcome their image mired by violence.

He further stated that a legal pundit, like former charter writer Kanin Boonsuwan, should be at the movement's helm since the struggle for justice would move from the streets to the judicial and legislative corridors.

He said red hardliners would not quit the movement but organise their own activities if Thida refused to resign.

In her rebuttal, Thida said she did not want the job in the first place. She said she reluctantly assumed the movement leadership after several red-shirt leaders were either in jail or in exile abroad.

She said she suspected her leadership was being questioned because of those leaders returning from exile.

She said she won't allow the movement to revert back to the "old way" as demanded by the hardliners.

Thida's supporter Worawut Wichaidit said the red shirts should act as shield for the Pheu Thai-led government which will, in turn, help them to overcome the legal issues.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

'Thaksin case to be reviewed'

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Yingluck tells CNN that reopening it is part of national reconciliation; Abhisit warns that including others will not hide true purpose

Prime minister-elect Yingluck Shinawatra, speaking on the most explosive issue facing her incoming government for the first time since her party's election victory, has told CNN her big brother's case will be reopened and reviewed "along with others" as part of national reconciliation.

The issue appears to have changed from the original idea of giving a blanket political amnesty for the sake of national reconciliation to a process of reviewing cases first before further action can be taken.

In the interview, Yingluck did not clarify whether or how the latest plan might affect normal judicial authority.

Yingluck told the US news network that she would not encourage Thaksin Shinawatra to come back and serve his two-year jail sentence. "Let's start with the principle of the rule of law first. [We must] make sure that everyone will be treated on equal basis," she said.

"Are you saying that his case along with others will be looked into - will be investigated again?" asked the CNN interviewer.

"Yes," Yingluck replied, but added: "His will be one of the cases." She insisted that the bottom line would be that the process and its results would be fair to everyone.

Asked later by Thai reporters whether her interview comment meant the amnesty plan for Thaksin was still on, Yingluck maintained the Pheu Thai Party's ambiguous line.

"I didn't mean it that way," she said. "Bringing him back is not the main point. Our policy is not meant for any particular person. Everything will have to wait for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, which will work independently towards reconciliation," she said.

Although the Pheu Thai Party has surprised critics by keeping the top reconciliation job in the hands of the Kanit na Nakorn panel, its chairman has expressed concern that the change of political guard could affect the committee's ongoing work. He has yet to react in detail to Yingluck's disclosure that legal cases that were part of Thailand's political crisis could be reopened for review.

Outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday repeated his warning that an amnesty plan of any form would be bad for political peace.

"To help one man by also helping others is not different from helping him exclusively. Dragging others into it cannot hide the original purpose," Abhisit said.

Another troublesome issue facing Yingluck concerns red-shirt leaders on the Pheu Thai party list who have started laying claim to, or fighting for, Cabinet posts.

Some critics have said it seems all right for her to nominate red leaders for ministerial posts, citing the case of outgoing Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who took part in the takeover of Suvarnabhumi Airport in late 2008.

Red-shirt leader Nuttawut Saikua, who was rumoured to be jockeying for a Cabinet position, denied yesterday that he was aspiring for a ministerial portfolio. He admitted that he had called Thaksin, but only to congratulate the former prime minister on the poll victory.

Another red-shirt leader, Kwanchai Prai-pana, said Nuttawut should stay away from the Cabinet and instead serve as government spokesman to "protect" Yingluck.

"The one suitable to be in the Cabinet is Jatuporn Prompan, who is a red-shirt hero and who has parliamentary experience," Kwanchai said.

When asked to confirm yesterday's news reports that red leaders would be barred from the Cabinet to avoid causing an immediate image problem for the new government, Yingluck was elusive. "We have not gone as far as discussing that," she said.

Sirote Klampaiboon, a Mahidol University lecturer in politics and human rights, said he did not mind seeing red-shirt leaders in the Cabinet. "I'm more worried about people with vested business interests given government positions," he said.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Other factors in Democrats defeat: pundits

A day after Pheu Thai's strong election victory, academics who have been studying the party's red-shirt supporters say there's more to the victory than the Thaksin Shinawatra factor.

Thammasat political scientist Prajak Kongkirati said a good number of voters who cast ballots for Pheu Thai were not fans of Thaksin or Yingluck. Many were disappointed by Abhisit Vejjajiva's handling of the economy and instability caused by repeated interference by the Army and the so-called powers outside the electoral system.

And business people, Prajak said, felt there was a need for political stability and this could not be achieved if forces outside the democratic system kept interfering. So these concerned people quite likely voted for Pheu Thai on Sunday.

"Even some who liked the Democrat Party felt things couldn't go on like this," he said.

Sirote Klampaiboon, a Mahidol University lecturer in politics and human rights, and a close observer of the red-shirts, said although many were fans of Thaksin, people who voted for Pheu Thai, or the Democrats, were more diverse than most might think. He attributed the Democrats' loss to weaknesses of the party and traditional allies like the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who split from the Democrats.

"They failed to create political appeal comparable to Pheu Thai," he said. But he noted that the stability of the Pheu Thai government could not be taken for granted as its opponents were still powerful and definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Self-proclaimed red-shirt political scientist Kengkij Kitirianglarp, from Kasetsart University, told The Nation he wasn't surprised by the Democrats' loss since the party has never won a majority in its long history. But what made things worse for the Democrats was a belief that in the current political and economic crisis, voters felt compelled to make a decisive choice - to support one of the two major parties, as no other parties could offer a coherent policy platform.

Kengkij was concerned that many middle class and well-off people continue to hold on to the "myth" that rural and urban poor voters were dumb and unable to make intelligent electoral choices and the fact this would lead to more social conflict.

He said such thinking may not be accidental but part of a way to justify continued domination by the elite over the rest of the society, especially the working class and rural poor.

"Thailand is not alone. We see examples in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines. In the Philippines, farmers fighting the [communist] revolutionary war were portrayed as alien, threatening and uneducated - as naive people who have been fooled [to fight] and do not have independent consciousness of their own. This myth is intentionally constructed," Kengkij said.

Prajak also sees the gap in understanding between the poor and middle class/elite as serious.

"This is the cause of political instability. It's a long-term issue and a challenge to preservation of the democratic system. The middle class and elites have to change their view. Come election time, every voter makes a rational choice. Although logic applied may differ from that of the middle class or elites, it doesn't mean the poor are stupid or irrational. One of the most problematic groups is academics who say northeasterners and northerners are under the sway of money and patronage. It means they don't understand how the rural areas have changed."

Given the growing clout of the poor rural and urban electorates, who constitute the majority of voters, Sirote is more concerned about whether or not those on both ends of the economic and political divides can tolerate the other without resorting to the use of state power of their respective government to crush the other. He reckoned that both sides should try to recognise that difference is not something alien in a democratic society.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Thai PM-elect Yingluck Shinawatra 'to form coalition

The surprise runaway winner of Thailand's election, the Pheu Thai party, says it has agreed to form a coalition with four smaller parties.
The party - led by by Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra - won a clear majority with an estimated 265 seats.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has announced his resignation as leader of the Democrats, which won 160 seats.
The outgoing defence minister said the powerful army would accept the result.
Final results from Sunday's poll are due on Tuesday.
Ms Yingluck, who has no previous political experience, said Pheu Thai and four other parties had "agreed to work together to run the country and solve people's problems".
"The first urgent issue is how to achieve reconciliation," she said.
Thailand has been plagued by internal division since Mr Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006.

This election comes a year after protests against the current government left more than 90 people dead. Many of the demonstrators were supporters of Mr Thaksin.
Critics of Ms Yingluck say she is too inexperienced and is simply a proxy for her brother.
But speaking from Dubai, where he lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption, Mr Thaksin said Ms Yingluck's lack of experience could be an advantage, saying a "clean slate" was useful at times in politics.
Mr Thaksin told reporters he did not want to return to Thai politics as he had been with his party too long.
"I really want to retire," he said.
Mr Thaksin said he was proud of his sister and would give Pheu Thai "whatever advice they may need", but that the Thai people were "in good hands".
'Victory of the people'
With nearly all votes counted, Ms Yingluck's Pheu Thai has a clear majority with 265 seats, while outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's Democrats have 159.
The coalition will together have an estimated 299 seats, effectively controlling about 60% of parliament.
The election results pave the way for Ms Yingluck, a 44-year-old business executive, to become Thailand's first female prime minister and the fifth person to hold the post since her brother.
As the results emerged on Sunday night, she said it was "a victory of the people" and that her party was "ready to deliver on all of the policies that we have announced".
Thailand's markets rose on Monday morning, but business leaders have expressed concern over whether the country can afford the populist reforms which have been promised by Pheu Thai.
The party pledged to introduce a minimum wage, provide development funds to rural villages, create a high-speed rail network and give every school child in the country a tablet computer.
The BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Bangkok says the coalition announcement is being seen as a clever move in Thailand, as it will make it easier for Ms Yingluck to push through reforms promised during her election campaign and create a sense of stability.
Preliminary election results chart (Bangkok Post)
However, there are fears of further turbulence ahead for Thailand, our correspondent says, and concerns of how the influential military might react.
The outgoing Defence Minister, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, said he had spoken to army leaders who said they would accept the result and had "never entertained any idea of doing anything that will damage the country".
The army chief has dismissed speculation of a military coup but, says our correspondent, Thailand's generals have made such promises before, and much depends on whether Mr Thaksin does decide to stay away.
To his supporters, he is a champion of the disadvantaged who was unconstitutionally forced from power by powerful elites, backed by the military.
To his critics, Mr Thaksin was a corrupt and authoritarian leader who manipulated gullible voters.