Huge official headache: backlog of 4.25m Sor Khor 1 deeds

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Photo: Khwanchai Duangsathaporn's Facebook

Photo: Khwanchai Duangsathaporn’s Facebook

ABOUT 4.25 MILLION land possession documents, or Sor Khor 1, used as a proof for the issuance of land-deed documents have not yet been stamped and approved by the Lands Department’s clearance system, the department revealed recently.

The enormous backlog has shocked some members of the committee expediting forest reforms under the National Reform Steering Assembly, as they have realised just one such a document could enable the “grab” of an enormous area of forest if abused. The risk of this became evident in recent cases including the high-profile one involving former land official Thawatchai Anukul.

Thawatchai had allegedly illegally issued land deeds for more than 1,000 plots of state land in Phuket, before being found dead while in the custody of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) last month.

The committee has flagged the issue as part of its six immediate recommendations to forest reform.

“You have to realise that to issue a land deed, you need to use Sor Khor 1 to start with,” said Khwanchai Duangsathaporn, the committee’s spokesperson. “So, we need to put it under proper control.”

Sor Khor 1 and land document management has been pinpointed as a critical cause of deforestation. This is because it generally involves extended or entirely false claims on land ownership and the grabbing of state land or forest. The processes are often known as “swollen Sor Khor 1” or “flying Sor Khor 1”.

Since Thailand issued land rights to private entities following the land law in 1954, landowners were required to report to land officials and they would be asked for Sor Khor 1 to show they possessed their plots, and those deeds would be used to issue permanent land deeds later on.

In 2008, the government tried to put them in order and end the mess by requiring people possessing Sor Khor 1 to turn them into land deeds within two years, or they must request a court order to do so afterwards.

But, there are still 4.25 million stuck in the process, causing a huge official headache.

Dr Khwanchai, also head of the Forestry Management Department at Kasetsart University’s Forestry Faculty, said the committee has to address the issue at a policy and legislation level by proposing some legal and policy changes.

Firstly, the land law must be amended to pave the way for other agencies to get involved at the request of a court, rather than the Lands Department alone. And to make such a request, the Sor Kor 1 must prove that they not only possess the land, but also use it.

Secondly, there should be a new Cabinet resolution instructing the department to make copies of the 4.25 million Sor Khor 1 documents for verification. And, new provincial land committees should be set up to check and verify the Sor Khor 1 deeds already converted into land deeds and kept at provincial land offices nationwide.

Khwanchai said the committee wishes to focus only on the plots close to state land, especially forest areas, because they are prone to encroachment via the process. So far, the committee has also requested for those already converted to land deeds be verified. That number is not yet known, he said.

“If we have corrupt officials, even only a few, how many forest areas could be lost as a result of false claims by only one Sor Khor 1 document? Now we know that we have 4.25 million of them to handle, and no idea of how many with claims that overlap with state land or our forests,” he said.

To strengthen the measures, legal enactment has been proposed for concerned forest laws to seize assets gained by such fraudulent acts. A new sub-panel directly investigating natural resources cases under the National Anti-Corruption Commission has also been suggested.

The panel has also looked into the loophole for changes in forest area monitoring and proposed the use of real-time data fed by Geo-Informatic and Space Development Technology Agency or GISTDA. Those responsible, from chiefs of concerned departments to governors, who fail to acknowledge the data quickly could face penalties, the committee has also suggested.

Besides this issue, the committee has also addressed massive plantation of single crops in forest areas. The committee has found that around half of the areas growing corn at present are located in forest, from three million to six-million rai.

Periods of time have been proposed for corn imports, along with a change of crops being grown in problematic areas to reduce impacts. Farmers, meanwhile, would also be encouraged to grow corn and other crops on lowland farms during the dry-season to replace second rice cropping, Dr Khwanchai said.

And last but not least, a new forest management policy committtee is desperately needed, he concluded.

Stalking the real-life Pokemon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Singaporean players raise their eyes from their phones to learn about nature

Like many Pokemon Go players, National University of Singapore life sciences undergraduate Sean Yap, 24, goes out as often as possible.

But, unlike the gamers whose eyes are glued to their phones in an effort to catch the virtual characters, Yap looks up and around – at plants, birds and especially insects. The insect researcher is now on a mission to get others to do the same and learn to appreciate biodiversity, and his strategy is to ride the current popularity of the mobile game.

He has produced a Facebook album – called Real Life Pokemon of Singapore – that shows the similarities between Pokemon characters and native plants and animals. The water Pokemon Staryu, for example, resembles the knobbly sea stars that dot Singapore’s shores, and the plant Pokemon Victreebel looks like the Raffles pitcher plant.

Yap’s comparisons include a tongue-in-cheek write-up about the native plant or animal.

He says, for instance: “Like Victreebel, pitcher plants are living toilet bowls, complete with a lid and a disgusting rim/seat – except they eat bugs. Some species of pitcher plants even have symbiotic, resistant insects that live in the liquid and feed on the drowned bugs, and the pitchers get the nutrients from their excrement, so they are actually toilet bowls.”

He points out that numerous Pokemon are based on real plants and animals, many of which can be found in Singapore. City dwellers rarely realise this, he says, and he hopes his project will enlighten them and prompt them to look out for these plants and animals.

“If Pokemon Go can be used as a marketing tool for shopping malls to attract customers, then it can probably do the same for science and biodiversity,” Yap says.

He wants to highlight the plight of wildlife, too.

For example, in writing about Sandslash, a Pokemon that resembles the critically endangered Sunda pangolin, which is native to Singapore, he says: “Unlike Sandslash, the pangolin’s large claws are not used for combat but for digging into ant or termite nests. And while Sandslash’s signature move, Defence Curl, may work against predators like tigers (before they went extinct here), humans can just pick them up.

“It is humans that make the pangolin such a rare Pokemon worldwide: Poaching is the No 1 threat to their existence.”

Adriane Lee, a 41-year-old project manager, says he never knew that real animals were the inspiration for Pokemon until he saw Yap’s album.

“Sean’s project is a refreshing take on educating people about local biodiversity, since Pokemon is the latest craze and it draws audiences normally not knowledgeable about or interested in nature to have a more intimate knowledge of the topic,” he says.

Nature groups such as the Herpetological Society of Singapore, which studies reptiles and amphibians, also plan to use Yap’s project at the Festival of Biodiversity educational fair taking place at the Botanic Gardens next weekend. “We want to show that Singapore has biodiversity that’s pretty cool too and that appreciating wildlife is just as fun and interesting as playing the game,” says the society’s co-founder, Sankar Ananthanarayanan.

Yap has so far matched about 40 of the 721 characters in the Pokemon universe with native flora and fauna. He hopes to do so for as many Pokemon as possible.

But unlike the Pokemon Go game, in which the aim is to catch them all, he stressed that handling and capturing wild animals in Singapore is illegal. “Don’t try to catch them,” he says. “Do observe and marvel from a respectful distance. You can join guided walks, many of which are free, for a better chance of seeing these real-life Pokemon.”

Although he’s been a fan of the Pokemon universe since he was a boy, Yap doesn’t play Pokemon Go. In fact he deleted the app barely four hours after he first downloaded it on the day of its launch.

“I realised I was walking in the forest and constantly checking my phone instead of looking out for wildlife,” he explains.

During a recent visit to Pasir Ris Park for a glimpse of a rare spotted wood owl, Yap noticed that many people who missed the majestic bird because they were busy catching Pokemon.

But getting people out in the open is a first step, he points out.

“Some people might not visit the parks in the first place and would completely miss the opportunity to see our native wildlife, so having them outside presents us the opportunity to reach out to them.”


Rights activist works on, despite legal threat

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE Cross Cultural Foundation continues to stand by its report on torture in Thailand’s deep South, which has thrown its key members into a rough ride with security agencies.

Released early this year, the report said that cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment had been meted out to at least 54 people in the southernmost provinces between 2004 and 2015.

“And these people [inflicting torture] have never been prosecuted,” Pornpen Kongkachornkiat, the foundation’s director, said during an exclusive interview with The Nation.

Her foundation published the report alongside the Patani Human Rights Organisation and the Hearty Support Group, trusting the information gathered by Pornpen herself, Somchai Homla-or and Anchana Heemina.

Pornpen has been with the foundation since its inception, working with all her heart and energy for its cause throughout the past 14 years.

Somchai, the foundation’s adviser, and Anchana of the Hearty Support Group are both prominent human-rights activists.

One of the victims they interviewed was a 30-year-old man who preferred to remain anonymous. He told the report’s editorial team that he was cooking on November 30, 2013 when at least 50 rangers stormed into his friend’s house.

“I was with five friends. But I was arrested because I was not a local there. I was tied and beaten up,” he said.

He said a search at his friend’s house had found a gun, which in fact belonged to his friend, but rangers suspected him and hit him even harder after the discovery.

“I believe it was so hard that I fell unconscious from time to time,” the man said.

Another man they interviewed, aged 29, said he was watching television at home on April 10, 2014 when more than 100 armed soldiers and police surrounded his village.

“They tackled me and dragged me farther into my backyard. All four officials were apparently drunk and they kicked me countless times,” he said. “They even forced a gun into my mouth. My throat became inflamed following the incident.”

Now, the Forward Command of the Internal Security Operations Command 4 has accused Pornpen, Somchai and Anchana of defamation and violating the Computer Crime Act.

The lawsuits have affected their organisations’ reputation and operations, but not their morale.

“I must admit that the Cross Cultural Foundation is facing the biggest crisis ever. But I am not discouraged,” Pornpen said.

She has also stood firm in her decision not to disclose the identity of any of the people they interviewed.

“All of these victims are so scared of officials. They shudder just at the sound of a siren. So, definitely, we will keep their identity confidential,” she stressed.

She said that based on information gathered from not just the victims but also family members, there were grounds to suspect that some victims had also been sexually abused while in detention.

“They did not speak about it. But their post-detention behaviour reflected that something had gone really wrong,” she explained.

Pornpen, 46, revealed that she had gone back to an undergraduate course four years ago to seriously study law in the hope that she will one day be able to represent victims in court and help them gain justice.

“Although I have already earned a master’s degree, my educational background does not enable me to be a lawyer. Lately, I’ve kind of thought that if I was a lawyer, I would be able to help people more,” she said.

About 24 years ago, the ‘Black May’ uprising took place in Bangkok, sparking Pornpen’s interest in politics and social work. Somchai was the person who introduced her to the Campaign for Popular Democracy, and ever since she jumped in as an activist, Pornpen has never given up her intention to fight for people.

About 14 years ago, she and her comrades founded the Cross Cultural Foundation, which has been active in helping people abused in the deep South in recent years.

The country’s southernmost region has been struggling with a raging wave of violence for more than a decade. As authorities have been trying to rein in the unrest, intelligence operations have sometimes raised questions.

“Often, it’s the blanket operations [that cause the greatest concern],” Pornpen said. According to her, authorities for example must have already collected DNA samples from more than 100,000 people, including women and children, in the Deep South.

Pornpen said collecting DNA samples from people should only take place when individuals consent to it.

“Authorities have got signed consent from people very likely because individuals are told they have to sign it as part of an investigation process,” she said.

And as the aforementioned report has pointed out, some people end up being victimised in custody.

“When someone lodges a complaint or when an allegation of abuse emerges, the relevant authorities should officially launch an investigation and announce the results,” Pornpen said.

She was upset that when her foundation lodged a complaint over torture in the Deep South, the National Human Rights Commission had dismissed the complaint.

Pornpen also complained that some officials had tried to distance local people from her foundation by saying that it had fallen into legal trouble.

However, despite some frustrations, she takes heart from the fact that her activities have at the very least been pushing Thai authorities to avoid cruel treatment to some extent.

“For example, the government is in the process of amending laws to better protect the rights of suspects,” the activist said.


Ministry unveils ambitious English plan

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Dr Teerakiat

Dr Teerakiat

Education goal to drastically improve language skills in line with key international standards.

THE EDUCATION MINISTRY plans to roll out big changes in its English-language curriculum.

Its aim is to ensure that all Prathom 6 graduates can speak the language well enough in the near future to express themselves in everyday situations.

“We will achieve that goal within 10 years,” Deputy Education Minister Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said during a recent exclusive interview with The Nation. He said he was confident that the changes would be so clear that even children could recognise the difference.

The number of hours students study English at state schools for Prathom 1 to 3 students will rise from one hour per week to five when the next semester begins in early November.

Teerakiat said he would design an efficient learning schedule including teaching five new words every hour, one hour for reading practice, one hour for functional English, and one hour for revision and learning improvement.

“We will prepare new textbooks for them too,” he said. The deputy education minister said the new textbooks for Prathom 1 to 3 students would be efficiently designed, based on a collaboration between the Office of Basic Education Commission and the Chulalongkorn University Language Institute.

Teerakiat said 350 teachers had been recruited for a seven-day training programme between March and April in preparation for the improvements in English-language learning.

“We have organised the programme with the help of the British Council. At the end of the programme, we will have 28 master trainers who will help train other teachers,” he said.

To ensure teachers can pass on English competency to their students, the Education Ministry is setting up eight training centres this year. Every centre will have foreigners and master trainers on duty to guide teachers who will conduct English-language classes for young students.

Teerakiat said he believed these centres would be able to train 3,500 teachers this year.

“We aim to establish 18 such centres ultimately. When all of them are up and running, we should be able to train 13,500 teachers,” he said.

Teerakiat added that the Education Ministry planned to overhaul the way English was taught at schools after it became clear that many graduates were struggling with English communication, despite extensive study of English grammar.

“We will set a new standard for English teaching and learning. And this standard will be based on the Common European Framework of Reference [CEFR] for Language,” Teerakiat said.

The CEFR is an international standard for describing language ability. Widely recognised around the world, the CEFR describes language ability on a scale of levels from A1 for beginners up to C2 for those who have mastered the language. This system makes it easy for teachers and students to determine different levels of qualifications. It also means that employers and educational institutions can easily compare qualifications of the centres to other exam systems in the country.

Teerakiat’s goal is to help all Prathom 6 graduates achieve the A2 level within five years. The A2 level refers to a pre-intermediate level. Students who can speak at that level should be familiar with frequently used expressions and able to express themselves in English in everyday situations.

“At present, I believe they don’t even reach the A1 level,” he said. The A1 level reflects a basic command of the language, familiarity with everyday expressions and the ability to make very simple sentences.

Teerakiat said he set the B1 level for Mathayom 3 graduates as an intermediate level. With a B1 command of English, students should be able to describe experiences, events, dreams and expectations as well as offer their own opinions.

“We will set the B2 level for Mathayom 6 graduates,” he continued.

The B2 level signifies an upper intermediate mastery of the language. At that level, students should be able to understand the main ideas of complex texts and produce clear, detailed English writing. They must also be able to spontaneously enter into a conversation.

“We are working towards this direction in collaboration with the British Council,” Teerakiat said.

He said the British Council had been chosen as a partner because it had a modern curriculum and teaching methods, and its team was ready to go to provinces and help with training.

Teerakiat said he would allow time for teachers and students to adjust to the new curriculum, which will take full effect starting in 2018.

The deputy education minister said he was focused on the outcomes for students, |not on how many awards each school receives.

“The ultimate answer is student quality. My bottom line is that students must receive knowledge and be able to use it,” Teerakiat said.

Reform committee chair wants tough penalty for election fraud

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation




THE National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA)’s political reform committee – which has a reputation for being hard-bitten following several strong political reform proposals – will make its voice heard again in a meeting on Wednesday with law-making bodies including the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) to discuss two highly charged organic draft bills concerning political parties and politicians.

The current regime wants to root out corrupt politicians and inject decent new players, as pledged when it staged the coup two years ago.

The politicians, on the other hand, want to reassert themselves and resist the change being forced on them by the present powers-that-be.

So, this reform task has fallen into the committee’s lap.

Among the “harsh” reforms it has proposed are long-term or life-time bans on politicians guilty of election fraud, and a “back to zero” order to all political parties that would force them to re-register both parties and members.

The committee’s chair, veteran legislator Seree Suwannapanont has insisted on extreme measures against politicians guilty of poll fraud. But he has clarified another extreme measure dubbed “a zero setting” for political parties, saying the panel did not mean to punish parties, but just wished to get them to re-register their members.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Seree revealed the committee would propose to the drafters that politicians involved in election fraud should still be sentenced to 10 years jail, without suspension.

“With this measure everyone will be afraid to commit election fraud,” the chairman of the political reform committee said.

The idea was based on the premise of an ‘inexpensive election’, Seree explained. The committee had conducted a study and found the roots to almost every problem in Thai politics were people investing in politics as if they were a business and looking to make profits, he said.

“So, an election has to be inexpensive. No more vote-buying.” he said.

“Besides the pre-emptive measures – such as having parties receive their budget from membership fees, state subsidy, and public donations, we are introducing this proactive measure of punishing election fraud wrongdoers with a real jail sentence.”

News had circulated that the current regime would push the issue to square one by requiring all parties to start from scratch again – making them re-register both parties and their members. But Seree dismissed the idea, saying such action would not be fair to the parties.

“What did the parties do wrong to deserve such disbanding?” he said. “It’s the people, not the institution, that committed the wrongdoing.”

He explained a suggestion the panel had put forward was to clear up party’s membership. Documents in the past had not been done in an orderly way, he said.

“The thing we should re-check is whether the members exist or not and whether they have membership with more than one party,” Seree said. “It needs to be sorted out to learn how many members they actually have. This would relate to the membership fees they would receive each year, on top of which the state would also pay a subsidy of the same amount.”

Under the new organic laws on political parties, each member of the party is required to pay Bt200 as an annual fee. The state would join in by donating the same amount. Authorities believe these fees would encourage parties to find members.

Despite politicians crying out against the new rules and regulations in the charter and proposed organic laws, Seree was reluctant to say he was 100 per cent satisfied with the written measures.

“Our committee has studied the root cause of the problem and we think we can see how to fix it. If they [the CDC] follow our suggestion, I am certain we can solve the issues and reform politics,” he said.

But some ideas had not received a warm welcome, Seree said. For example, the committee suggested the party-list system be abolished, keeping only the constituency MPs. The drafters had not responded, he said.

Seree said the party-lists were full of businessmen seeking to invest in politics for personal |interest.

The committee had also suggested the Senate be fully appointed, he said. The CDC had not adopted this idea either, [although] it could help enhance the checks and balance system, he added.

However, Seree said the committee could do nothing but provide opinions for the drafters and legislators. It was up to them whether they would take up their recommendations or not.

“We’ll see how much everything works out when regularity resumes next year,” he said.

PM ‘focused on setting the stage’ for elections

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha is preparing the country for the promised election and transition to civilian rule after three years of military control, Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday.

General Paiboon confirmed that the regime is easing its hold to get the country ready for a return to democracy in the wake of the junta-backed government’s latest move to curb the use of the military court.

“Don’t forget, he is a militarist. We are taught to prepare. General Prayut isn’t just seeing himself as ruling for another year, but he is paving the way for an election,” Paiboon said in an exclusive interview.

“When at war, we see how long we have to last. But while preparing, we also need to be sure of the context and ensure that the surroundings allow us to do that, otherwise we’ll lose.”

Paiboon, a key figure in the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), was speaking to Nation TV’s Primetime about the junta’s current moves in its final year before packing up after the next election expected in late 2017 or early 2018.

Since the military took power in 2014, the NCPO has adopted repressive measures to ensure its smooth rule in a divided country. But as the regime is preparing to exit next year after the draft constitution passed a referendum last month, the ruling power is allowing rival factions more room to express themselves.

“The PM has said he saw the people’s satisfaction [in the referendum results], So, the next situation is how we can move forward,” Paiboon said. “From now on, we will see the picture emerge on campaigns and the election. We have to prepare now because it cannot be done in a day or two.”

After being in power for over two years and seeing the popularity it gained from the people, Paiboon said the NCPO would not let the country slide back to the state of conflict seen in the past decade.

However, he was also aware that with the possibility of Prayut continuing as PM, the members of Parliament would want to play a bargaining game. Paiboon said he believed the people liked the NCPO’s working style enough that it would have the upper hand.

The general said that recent opinion polls showed that Prayut was popular among the people and they wanted him to stay on. He asked rhetorically: “Could this be a proof of the people’s satisfaction with the NCPO’s working style?”

Most importantly, he said the people in last month’s referendum had backed the new constitution and the additional question that allowed the NCPO’s handpicked Senate to join MPs in choosing the next PM, paving the way for an outsider PM.

Paiboon said Prayut, considering the tremendous support he enjoyed, had to finish what he had started otherwise all the same old problems would resurface.

Asked whether people trusted by the NCPO or Prayut would be placed in the next government to continue the work, Paiboon said: “Of course. It doesn’t have to be Prayut but anyone we can trust, anyone who shares the same ideas as us.”

Reacting to criticism of such moves as the regime’s attempt to retain power, he insisted that the NCPO must respond to the people’s demand. “If they like what the NCPO has done, then we have to go on with it,” he said. “You can call it controlling or retaining power. I’m not going to argue with you.”

The national strategy and the reform plans would be the legacy of the NCPO, which the next government must take up, he said, adding the NCPO-selected Senate would play a vital role in this.

“Frankly speaking, [the Senate] would help sustain this plan during the five-year transition period. Any political parties that want to be in the government must be aware of this,” the general said.

Currently organic laws are being written following the public’s nod for the draft charter. Paiboon said he had no worries as the people had already made the decision. He added that the NCPO’s achievements were already proved.

“The people accepted the additional question [in the referendum], though many were against it. Where does that come from? It comes from people’s satisfaction with the PM. We have to accept that,” the general said.

“Let’s see the final result of the organic laws. It would be in line with the constitution, nothing more or less. I have no worries about anything. We will only focus on the remaining time that we, the NCPO, have to continue working as we promised on May 22, 2014,” Paiboon said.

‘Yes’ vote not a rejection of Democrats

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Abhisit Vejjajiva

Abhisit Vejjajiva

Abhisit says new constitution’s MMA system will compel voters to be more decisive

The political battle over the recent referendum, which approved the constitution and cleared the path for an outsider to become prime minister, has had its share of winners and losers.

The 70-year-old Democrat Party, whose leader publicly declared his personal opposition to the charter, is among the deeply wounded.

In the run-up to the crucial political milestone that would shape the future of major political players, politicians and stakeholder groups all came out with their position on the charter.

The Pheu Thai Party and its ally, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, were united in rejecting the junta-sponsored charter.

However, the Democrats and its offshoot, the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), did not see eye to eye on the charter.

While former PDRC chief Suthep Thaugsuban was active and broadcasting daily on Facebook Live that he supported the controversial charter, Abhisit Vejjajiva raised some eyebrows by coming out against it.

The Democrat Party was rocked as its two most influential figures took opposite roads on such a crucial issue.

As it turned out, the referendum results have shown that the South, a Democrat stronghold, overwhelmingly accepted the charter with “Yes” votes being four times the number of “No” votes.

That raised questions about Abhisit and the party’s future as well as their relationship with the PDRC. It also raised questions whether the PDRC’s influence was exceeding that of its parent party.

Increasingly, it is being asked whether former PDRC figures should rise within the party when Abhisit’s tenure as leader ends next December.

In a recent interview with The Nation, Abhisit was obscure about the party’s future. Instead of defending the change within the party, he said people would not care about the party’s internal affairs but only about what it had to offer.

Though insisting that many former PDRC figures had held onto their party membership and that their ties remained strong, the Democrat leader of 11 years failed to assure he would still be in the saddle next year when the general election is expected to take place.

He also did not name any potential candidates, mentioning only that many former MPs were competent.

Though there are no limits to how long a person can hold the party’s top position, the organic laws soon to be written by the charter drafters might say otherwise. Abhisit still has aspirations. He said he wants to play a part in leading the country in the direction of his beliefs.

However, the former prime minister also said he knows exactly what to do if he cannot helm the Democrat ship to achieve its goal in the next election.

The referendum showed that the constituents of Bangkok and the South, the supposed supporters of the Democrat Party, approved the charter, defying Abhisit’s stance, and many are saying the Oxford alumnus is losing his charm.

Abhisit dismissed the notion, saying voters based their decision on a different logic when it came to casting a ballot in a referendum than in an election.

“A supporter came to me before the vote, held my hand, and said to me that she still loved me but this time she would vote to pass the charter,” he said.

“She said she would vote for me, [despite disagreeing about the constitution].”

Some of those who used to despise the Democrats, in turn, have shown approval after he went public with his dismissal of the charter, he said.

“It wasn’t about the parties or their stances. It was that the people wanted things to move forward quickly.

“I believe they cared more about the immediate situation than what politicians were saying,” he said.

“And it doesn’t mean they would not vote for the parties in an election.”

He pointed out that Pheu Thai won the 2007 election when a few months earlier it had failed to persuade voters to reject a post-coup constitution.

Abhisit remains hopeful that the Democrats would maintain their leading position in the House.

“Why second? We might come first,” he said.

He believes Democrat supporters have not lost faith in the party and also does not think the new election method, known as Mixed-Member Apportionment, would hurt the big parties as predicted by some experts.

The veteran politician believes voters’ behaviour would change

following the changed election method.

When there were two ballots, a lot of voters cast one ballot for one party, and the other for another.

Now, they would have to find a new way to make a decision because they only have one ballot, he said.

There had been many constituencies where the Democrat candidates never had any success but gained a lot of party-list votes, he said.

It is difficult to predict how they would weigh their decision before casting the one ballot they have – whether for the candidate they like in the local constituency or for the party at the national level.

Abhisit said the Democrats would rebuild confidence among the people that it had the capability to tackle bread and butter issues, that it could ensure stability and would not bring back the same old conflict, and that it would carry out reform plans.

Given the politics of the past 10 years involving rampant corruption, transparency should be the key to winning the people’s trust.

The Democrats, as a long-standing party with a strong structure and no prime financier behind it, had the upper hand in looking clean and transparent, he said.

The policies the party is pursuing involve helping farmers stand on their own feet rather than promise them wealth through populist schemes, he said.

With the strong possibility of the next PM being an outsider, that person should have support from the Lower House, he maintained.

The Senate-backed PM would find it easier to rule if the major party supporting the premier is on good terms with the Upper House, he added.

Outsider PM will find it tough to rule: Abhisit

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation




Democrat leader says new prime minister will also need immense public support.

FORMER PREMIER Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned that it would not be an easy task for an “outsider” prime minister to run the next government, especially if he or she relies mainly on core support from the 250 selected senators.

Such a person will also need to generate public pressure to get the full support of the House of Representatives to ensure a smooth term in running the government, Abhisit said.

The Democrat Party leader also said the next government should rely on majority support from the House of Representatives. Besides, he said, the prime minister should come from the political party that wins the most seats in the election.

“I stand by the belief that a prime minister or a government must have support from the majority of the House of Representatives, which obtains its mandate directly from the people,” Abhisit said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is being viewed as a leading candidate for the post of prime minister after the next election. This is because the new constitution allows an “outsider” to become premier. Also, thanks to the recent referendum results, selected senators will be allowed to cast votes along with elected MPs to select a prime minister after the next Parliament convenes for the first time. The selected prime minister will have a five-year term.

The first batch of the Senate’s 250 members will be handpicked by the ruling National Council for Peace and Order.

In an interview with The Nation, Abhisit said the lower House will still carry due weight in Parliament, notwithstanding the 250 senators’ significant influence in selecting the next prime minister.

“Unless the next leader has massive public support, it will not be easy for him to survive no-confidence motions,” the former PM said.

Apart from the scenario of the PM gaining such immense public support that he could disregard elected MPs, Abhisit said there were two more options that could help an “outsider” leader, who only has the backing of 250 senators.

“One scenario is that he is with a [major] political party that has little problem with the Senate. This party could tolerate the Senate’s power in carrying out reforms and the national strategy and so forth. This way, the PM would be able to work more easily with the lower House,” he said.

“Another scenario could be the PM has the support of another [major] party that is not very friendly with the Senate. This could be more difficult and more exhausting as the same old conflicts would arise. The party would have problems with the Senate in the same way it did in the past with independent agencies and the like,” Abhisit said.

He stressed that the public must ultimately decide on how the government should be structured after the election.

However, the veteran politician said that political parties still have an important role to play and that “it is impossible for an election to be meaningless”.

“This is democracy. It is where the public always has a say on how it would like things to be,” he said.

When asked if the Democrat Party would vote to support Prayut as the next prime minister, Abhisit declined to comment, only saying that he was not sure about the final process of the prime ministerial selection.

So far, at least one political group has publicly announced its support for Prayut to become next PM. Pro-military former senator Paiboon Nititawan has said he is planning to set up a new political party called People’s Reform Party, which will nominate Prayut as the next government head.

Prayut, who led the 2014 coup before taking the top government job, said on Wednesday that if “no good people” can be found for the next PM’s post, the public could turn to him. This is the first clear remark from him about the matter.

He said yesterday that people should not fear the spectre of an outsider prime minister. Instead, he said, people should fear the ghosts of the past, which had caused damages to the country.

Apart from getting the backing of 250 senators, an outsider aspiring to become the PM will need votes from at least 126 MPs to gain a majority in the 750-member Parliament.

The Constitution Drafting Commission is revising the draft charter in response to the referendum result. It is still unclear whether by letting legislators help choose a prime minister, it means that senators can also nominate PM candidates.

Critics have pointed out that all these mechanisms would only pave the way for an outsider PM or for the current regime to retain power after the next election.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday ruled out the possibility of him becoming an outsider PM.

“No, I don’t want to,” he said when asked by a reporter at the Defence Ministry.

Asked if he would “serve the country in the future”, General Prawit said, “I have done so for 50 years and am still doing it today.”

When asked what he thought General Prayut meant when he said he could be considered a candidate for the top job if “no good people” can be found, Prawit said reporters should ask the PM.

The puppet master perseveres

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Turning 73 today, Chakrabhand Posyakrit has not let a crippling stroke interfere with his ambition to build a grand new home for his paintings and puppets. Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

Turning 73 today, Chakrabhand Posyakrit has not let a crippling stroke interfere with his ambition to build a grand new home for his paintings and puppets. Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

The artist’s Bangkok home is jammed with artwork, including puppet-show sets, a huge Buddha statue and hundreds of paintings, all destined for the new Chakrabhand Museum in Sai Mai. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

The artist’s Bangkok home is jammed with artwork, including puppet-show sets, a huge Buddha statue and hundreds of paintings, all destined for the new Chakrabhand Museum in Sai Mai. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

Fantastical creations await the return of the puppet master. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

Fantastical creations await the return of the puppet master. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

While in hospital Charakbhand created 'Gibbon' by blowing paint onto the paper. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

While in hospital Charakbhand created ‘Gibbon’ by blowing paint onto the paper. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

One of Chakrabhand's students works on a sculpture of Tosakan for King Rama II Park in Samut Sakhon. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

One of Chakrabhand’s students works on a sculpture of Tosakan for King Rama II Park in Samut Sakhon. The Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

These elephants, once props for a puppet show, are looking for a new home. Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

These elephants, once props for a puppet show, are looking for a new home. Nation/Thanachai Pramarnpanich

Architect Chirakorn Prasongkit, together with puppet theatre expert Somchai Chitkongkan, has designed the Bt120-million museum building now under construction in Sai Mai.

Architect Chirakorn Prasongkit, together with puppet theatre expert Somchai Chitkongkan, has designed the Bt120-million museum building now under construction in Sai Mai.


National Artist Chakrabhand Posyakrit pushes past a stroke to bring a dream to fruition

A stroke has – just temporarily it’s to be hoped – robbed National Artist Chakrabhand Posyakrit of the use of his right hand – the hand that chiefly created all those paintings, puppets, books and essays. But, turning 73 today, he’s utterly undeterred.

In hospital earlier this year he found a way to blow a spray of watercolour paint from his mouth to make art – a pair of pieces titled “Lion” and “Gibbon”. And, while daily physical therapy continues, he’s regularly consulted about a museum of his own being built in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district.

Nation Group reporters were invited to his home-studio on Soi Ekkamai last week for an exclusive interview, his first since returning to the art scene after nearly a year’s absence.

“I’m not healthy,” he acknowledged immediately, sitting in a wheelchair. “I’m weak,” he said, then broke into a grin. “I’m too lazy to paint.”


Chakrabhand relied on Vallabhis Sodprasert, deputy director of the Chakrabhand Foundation, to explain some of the details about his health, the museum plans and other upcoming projects.

“In fact we were planning an exhibition of his paintings and drawings for his birthday, right here in this house, but when he fell ill that was put on hold,” Vallabhis said. The show will instead take place around the end of the year.

Chakrabhand’s 500-square-wah home has in the past been more like an art academy, with dozens of students trooping through every day. Some of them are now respected artists in their own right.

With the ajarn – their respected teacher – they’d work on sketches for murals at Wat Tri Tosathep in Bangkok and Wat Khao Sukim in Chantaburi, or design ornate puppet costumes and massive stage props. One was a gigantic sculpture of Hanuman, another a trio of elephants.

On weekends the house would become a puppet theatre, people welcomed in to watch Chakrabhand and his troupe put on a show, with a phipat orchestra clattering away in the background.

The place isn’t quite as lively now, although the students still come by to work on projects. The puppet troupe is on hiatus for the time being.

“He was admitted to the hospital just a few days before they were going to stage a new episode of ‘Taleng Phai’ last November,” said Vallabhis, whose primary function now is helping Chakrabhand in his recovery.

What’s mainly occupying them both in spirit, however, is building the country’s first dedicated puppet museum, part of a grand Bt120-million gallery-studio already under construction in Sai Mai.

The idea arose in 2008 while the artist was battling a developer who wanted to erect a high-rise condominium right next to his home. His friends and the media were on his side, not wanting to see a genuine Thai treasure house threatened. The developer backed off, for now, and the artist’s house became headquarters for the non-profit Chakrabhand Foundation, protecting his paintings and trying to preserve the puppeteer’s arts.

When Chakrabhand first settled on Soi Ekkamai (Sukhumvit Soi 63) more than 50 years ago it was still a quiet residential area, a far cry from the roaring commercial and corporate zone it is today. The menace of a high-rise going up next door worried him because of the fragility of his collection – some of the 200 puppets he keeps are more than a century old. He realised he’d eventually have to find somewhere else to store and display his hoard.

“The two-storey museum with a high ceiling above the ground floor will be the new home for Ajarn Chakrabhand’s masterpieces and include a 300-seat puppet theatre,” says architect Chirakorn Prasongkit, herself a major fan of the artist’s work.

Chirakorn, together with puppet-theatre expert Somchai Chitkongkan, has designed something of Chakra- bhand’s home into the 5,000-square-metre museum building, which he says will be energy-efficient and easy to maintain. As in a traditional Thai house, the high-ceilinged ground floor will serve multiple uses, and feature a 1,500-square-metre open-air hall suitable for parties and seminars.

Upstairs will be the theatre, under another lofty roof, with enough room to handle large productions of up to 100 performers and crew. The museum area itself, 780 square metres, will have a gift shop and small caf้ and be surrounded by a mezzanine hung with the paintings and sketches.

Display cases will hold puppets and something else that always amazes viewers – tiny, fragile dolls made from nutshells. “The exhibition space will have light dimmers and humidity controls,” says Chirakorn.

There will be three main exhibition rooms. The first, with 250 square metres, will hold the paintings, drawings, mural sketches and portraits of the royal family and other prominent clients and the artist’s friends and characters from Thai literature.

The puppets, stage sets and props will be in a second, 300-square-metre room, alongside a 125-square-metre studio that will “imitate” his studio in Ekkamai, a “living museum” where visitors will occasionally get to see Chakrabhand at work.

“He requested the soft, natural light as if falling on the North Pole, so there are no shadows,” the architect says.

Exterior construction is nearly finished, at a cost of Bt50 million. The land cost another Bt30 million. The second phase will involve the interior design and climate control.

“We don’t know yet when will the museum will be finished, but we’re currently raising the money to complete it,” said Vallabhis.

“Ajarn Chakrabhand’s aim is to preserve this collection as a national treasure, so this museum belongs not just to him but everyone,” Chirakorn adds.


– Everyone’s invited to help Chakrabhand’s friends and students celebrate his birthday a little late, on August 28, beginning with a merit-making ceremony at 8am with monks from Wat Khao Sukim.

– Part of the proceeds from the sale of his works will go to the museum fund.

– The Chakrabhand Foundation is at 49 Soi Ekkamai opposite the Lotus maket and open daily from 10am to 6pm.

– Find out more at (02) 392 7754.


Swing, squat, press and snatch

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Sergey Rachinsky

Sergey Rachinsky

Kettlebell champ Sergey Rachinsky drops into Bangkok to train Thais in the healthy weight-lifting exercise

Tired of the same fitness routine and want to build your strength while working on cardiovascular health and burning off the fat? Then try lifting one of those colourful metal balls called kettlebells. According to multiple world record holder and kettlebell world champion Sergey Rachinsky, the discipline offers all those benefits and plenty more besides.

The 45-year-old Saint Petersburg native dropped into Bangkok recently to host a three-day kettlebell strength workshop at Base, Bangkok’s newest addition to the fitness scene. The undisputed leader of girevoy, as the weight-lifting sport is known in Russia, Rachinsky holds 12 world titles and seven Guinness World Records including the most 100kg barbell squats in one hour at 520 reps, and the most in one go at 212 reps. His incredible 48kg kettlebell overhead press record is 5,555 times in 12 hours. Now a sought-after coach, he spends most of his time travelling the world holding seminars on kettlebell lifting and strength training at the world’s top fitness facilities.

“It’s always a great honour to welcome a coach that is as recognised and accomplished as Sergey and we’re very proud to have him sharing his knowledge with our trainers and clients” Base’s founder and chief executive Jack Thomas, told XP.

“His feats of strength are simply incredible and, having been lucky enough to train with him a few years ago, I know how inspiring and driven he is.”

Rachinsky took time out from his rigorous schedule to chat with us about his passion for the sport that has been adopted as a workout favourite for gym rats all over the globe including celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz, Christian Bale and Jason Stratham

Have you always been a sportsman?

Yes, all my life really. When I was seven, doctors discovered that my spine was out of alignment by 25 per cent and told my parents that I needed to stay active to help strengthen the spine and build muscle otherwise I’d have a crooked back forever. So I grew up playing football and swimming. I started going to the gym when I was in my teens and used dumbbells, barbells and other equipment to build my structure. I had another x-ray when I was in my late 30s and this time the alignment was just eight percent.

When did you discover kettlebell?

In 1988, when I joined the army. I stayed in the military for five years, mainly to finish my degree. Then at 25, I decided to become a kettlebell athlete/

What is it about kettlebell that appeals to you so much?

It’s very accessible – at least in Russia. You don’t need much to practise. You can do it anywhere, even in a small apartment or in your kitchen. Also, it has many benefits for your health, and complements your performance in other kinds of sports. Thirty years ago kettlebell was not really a sport. It was still developing and not a lot of people knew about it. A small group friends and I were among the first to get into kettlebell and see the potential of the equipment. I knew even then that it would become popular one day,

How big is it now?

It’s very difficult now to find a country with no kettlebells. The last kettlebell world championship in Ireland last year had 500 athletes representing more than 50 countries around the world. I haven’t seen any kettlebell lifters from Thailand so far but I’m sure once Thai people get to know this sport, they’ll love it and do well. Thais do well in many sports and Thai boxing requires a high level of fitness. Kettlebell should not be too hard.

Can kettlebell be a team sport?

Yes. You can do it alone or with a group. In what we call a relay race, five people have to lift for three minutes. Then the scores of each member of the group are combined. Kettlebell lifting is both an exercise and a competitive sport.

So kettlebell is essentially weight lifting?

Yes. In our daily life we lift things that are much heavier than a five or even ten-kilogram kettlebell – a sack of potatoes, a stack of books or a kid’s school backpack sometimes weigh several kilos. We lift weights all the time but kettlebell lifting teaches you to lift weights properly, to benefit your structure, your core and your muscles.

What are the most attractive benefits of kettlebell lifting?

Kettlebell lifting helps develop pretty much all muscle groups, helps organise your structure and encourages willpower. I know people who have been lifting kettlebells for 40 or 45 years and they are now over 65 years old and still using them for exercise. Anyone can do it and there’s no restriction on age or gender. It’s a great way to keep fit and it’s the kind of the exercise that has very low impact. Muscle pain and injury happen very rarely. I’ve played other sports that gave me more injuries than kettlebell. I torn my Achilles tendon playing basketball and broke bones in MMA fights. I used kettlebells to rehabilitate, to restore my muscles, strength, endurance and fitness. You must start with a trainer though to avoid beginners’ mistakes, the most common of which is to rush into lifting.

Is it a good sport for kids?

I’ve seen some kids start at the age of eight and it’s not a problem. However, I would suggest kids leave kettlebell training until they are 11 or 12 when they have a bit more muscle and better endurance. Kettlebell lifting is not used to bulk you up but it does help with endurance and fitness and that makes it ideal for women who want to be strong and healthy but don’t want to have bulky arms or six packs. We work in long reps, maybe 50 up to 60, per session. It’s not likely that you will bulk up but you will definitely build strong muscles. And once you’ve developed a good body mass, the fat will be burned off, leaving you lean and strong but not bulky. You’ll see a lot of female kettlebell lifters who don’t look like they can lift heavy weights but in fact they can, because after years of training they are very strong. It just doesn’t show.

Does it require a specific diet to get the best results?

I’m one of those people who eats everything – no restrictions. Maybe because I train regularly four times a week, I allow myself to eat whatever I want – chocolate, sweets and occasionally a little dry red wine. I don’t believe in protein shakes, protein bars or any food supplements. I believe in real food. Some of my friends go to the extreme and have very strict diets. Some eat only raw vegetables and plants while others go for the Paleo diet and eat only meat. They all say they feel great. But I eat everything! I’m not saying what I do is best but it works for me.

When was the last time you saw a doctor?

[Long pause] Last time I went to a hospital was when I was still in the army, so about 20 years ago. I think I had a really bad cold. Like everyone I get the odd cold or stomach upset or catch something from my sons but the problem always clears up quickly. Exercise and you won’t remember what the inside of a hospital looks like!

The right lift

>> Kettlebell lifting training will soon be available at Base, adjacent to BTS Thonglor station.

>> Visit or call (083) 838 5810.