Former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was banned from traveling overseas yesterday at the start of her trial on negligence charges, the latest in a slew of cases her supporters say are part of an attempt to prolong the junta’s grip on power.
In a move likely to delay any return to democratic rule, the Thai Cabinet yesterday agreed that a referendum should be held on a new constitution and the military’s blueprint for restoring democracy.
Yingluck was forced from office a year ago after Thailand’s Constitutional Court found her guilty of abuse of power. Weeks later, the military staged a coup that removed the remnants of her government.
She is accused of dereliction of duty for her role in a multibillion-dollar rice subsidy scheme that anti-corruption authorities alleged was plagued with graft.
Yingluck, who denies the charges against her, faces up to 10 years in prison if she is found guilty. She has accused her enemies of conducting a witch-hunt to handicap her powerful family.
About 200 supporters showed up outside the court yesterday, with some shouting: “The people’s prime minister! Yingluck is the people’s prime minister. You must fight on.”
The court banned her from traveling overseas and agreed on bail of 30 million baht (US$899,280). The next hearing is set for July 21.
The case against Yingluck is the latest twist in a long-running political saga that includes more than a decade of on-off violence that has pitted supporters of Yingluck and her brother, Thaksin, also a former prime minister, against the royalist-military establishment that sees the Shinawatras as a threat and reviles their populist policies.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Seoul yesterday, Thaksin said he had no plans to mobilize his “Red Shirt” supporters, but called the first year of the junta government which came to power in a coup “not so impressive.”
“I think democracy will prevail sooner or later, but we have to be patient, and we have to be peaceful,” he said. “Don’t resort to any kind of violence.”
Thaksin, who remains hugely influential, was ousted in a 2006 coup and fled abroad to avoid jail for a 2008 corruption conviction he says was politically motivated.
Later yesterday, Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that it would take three months to hold a referendum on a new constitution, something that would push back a general election planned for early next year.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters that voting would take place in August next year at the earliest.
“At the earliest it will take place around August or in September,” Wissanu said.
Yingluck was banned from politics in January when a military-appointed legislature found her guilty over her role in overseeing the disastrous rice subsidy scheme.
The scheme paid farmers above market prices for their rice and cost state coffers billions of dollars in losses.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable