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Why Princess Ubolratana’s election nomination shook Thailand | Thailand News

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The political career of Thailand‘s Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi lasted only three days, but in that time her declaration that she would be a candidate for prime minister in a March election shook up the kingdom.

For the sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn to enter politics was shocking enough, but what threatened to upend Thailand’s political dynamic was the fact that she declared her candidacy for a populist party linked to an exiled former prime minister.

By Monday, the country’s Election Commission had disqualified the princess, 67, from taking part in the election, echoing the words of the king himself, who said on Friday her candidacy was “inappropriate”.

Still, even though the princess won’t be a candidate in the March 24 vote, her political ambitions – and the populists’ audacious gambit in nominating her – could linger in voters’ minds.

The election is the first since the 2014 military coup, and will pit allies of overthrown ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra against urban and middle class opponents espousing extreme devotion to the Thai monarchy.

Thaksin or his proxies have won every election in Thailand since 2001.

With its nomination of the king’s sister for prime minister, the Thai Raksa Chart party sought to flip the long-standing charge by opponents that Thaksin and his allies were insufficiently loyal to the monarchy.

The royal family is revered in Thailand as semi-divine. Insulting the monarchy is against the law, punished by up to 15 years in prison. By longstanding tradition, the royal family have kept themselves above politics as a symbol of Thai culture.

Since 2005, when protesters drawn mostly from the middle-class and urban establishment began demonstrating against Thaksin’s rule, the rallying call of anti-Thaksin forces has been to protect the monarchy.

The early protesters wore yellow – a colour associated with the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej – to show their reverence for the monarchy and Thai culture that they said Thaksin threatened through corruption and consolidating his own personal power.

The military deposed Thaksin in 2006 and, since then, Thai politics have been locked in a cycle of his allies winning elections and later being removed from power by court rulings or coups – most recently in 2014, when the army overthrew the remnants of a government that had been led by Thaksin’s sister Yingluck.

Nominating Princess Udolratana was Thai Raksa Chart’s attempt to turn the table and invoke the appeal of the royal family as a populist princess.

But the gambit was quickly shut down by her brother, who ascended to the throne in 2016, after the death of their father, and will be officially crowned in May.

Still, the brief entry of royalty into politics may only deepen Thailand’s political divisions, said Anusorn Unno, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology at Thammasat University.

“For Thai Raksa Chart supporters, this has created more sympathy to the party … These would see the party as a victim in this situation,” he said.

As for Thaksin’s opponents, they are likely to be galvanised by what they will see as an attempt to manipulate the monarchy, said Anusorn.


SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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