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Thai body seeks to dissolve party that nominated princess for PM | Thailand News

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Thailand‘s Election Commission says it will ask the constitutional court to dissolve a party that in an unprecedented but ill-fated move put forward a princess to run for prime minister in the country’s upcoming general elections.

In a statement on Wednesday, the election body said the Thai Raksa Chart party violated an electoral law with its shock nomination of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi last week.

“The action is considered hostile to the constitutional monarchy,” the statement said.

The move came two days after the commission‘s first elections in eight years.

Although the electoral officials did not provide an explanation for her disqualification, it is widely believed the decision derived from a statement by King Maha Vajiralongkorn calling his elder sister’s involvement in politics unconstitutional and inappropriate, just hours after her nomination was announced on Friday.

Military government

Princess Ubolratana’s short-lived nomination broke with a long-standing tradition of members of the royal family, which wields great influence and commands the devotion of millions, staying out of politics. 

What made her bid particularly notable was her alliance with a party that is part of the political machine of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown in a 2006 coup and is loathed by many royalists and others in the country’s traditional establishment.

The whirlwind events have reignited long-standing political tensions in Thailand, which is still run by a military government that seized power in a 2014 coup and ousted the government of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. Since the coup, the military government had used strict laws against protests and political activity to keep tensions from bubbling to the surface.

Late on Tuesday, the princess issued an apology for causing “problems”.

“I’m sorry that my sincere determination to work for the country and the people has caused problems that shouldn’t have happened in this day and age,” she wrote on her Instagram page.

After the king overruled its candidate, Thai Raksa Chart avowed its fealty to him and acceptance of his order, but its opponents urged its dissolution.

Before the Election Commission made its recommendation, the party leader Preechapol Pongpanit called for the body to hear its defence.

“If they don’t let us tell our side, it’d be as if we were tied by our hands and feet,” he said.

Ubolratana’s candidacy could have pitted her against the preferred candidate of the pro-royalist military, the military government leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup.

Prayuth was considered the frontrunner, largely because election laws enacted under his government skewed the odds against any party running without the support of the military and the conservative royalist establishment. Under the army-drafted constitution, the military government appoints all of the upper house, which along with the lower house gets to vote for prime minister.

The changes were the latest attempt at quashing the influence of Thaksin, whose allied parties have won every national election since 2001 and remain popular with the rural majority for policies such as universal healthcare.

Three pro-Thaksin parties running in this year’s election were seen as posing the greatest challenge to Prayuth and pro-military parties, and recruiting Princess Ubolratana to their cause was initially seen as boosting their odds.

They appear to have assumed that since she lost her formal royal titles in 1972 when she married a foreigner – a US citizen whom she has since divorced – that the strictures against royal involvement in politics would not apply to her.

Dissolving Tha Raksa Chart would almost surely cost the Thaksin side much-needed seats in the election. It would also deepen concerns about the fairness of the polls.

Those concerns were heightened on Tuesday when the country’s telecoms regulator suspended the operating license of a TV station linked to Thaksin, citing national security concerns. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said two news programmes on the station spread information that caused public confusion and divisiveness.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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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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