120,000 Thais overseas voters registered to vote in advance

120,000 Thais registered to vote overseas

Original source: Bangkok Post, 22 Feb 2019 at 12:03 9

A hundred thousand Thais have registered to vote from overseas in the March 24 election, led by those residing in Sydney, according to the Foreign Ministry. Registration for overseas voting online and at 94 Thai embassies, consulates and trade and economic offices worldwide took place from Jan 28 to Tuesday.

A total of 119,184 Thais registered to vote, led by those in Sydney (10,256), London (7,926) Tokyo (6,048), Canberra (5,927), Los Angeles (5,668), Singapore (4,763), Kuala Lumpur (4,139) and Washington (4,122).

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THAI ELECTION GETS MESSY START OVERSEAS, VOTERS COMPLAIN

Original Source: Khaosot

By Jintamas Saksornchai, Staff Reporter -March 11, 2019 2:36 pm


At left, Thais in Malaysia use cardboard boxes to vote Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Muhammad Sasu / Facebook. At right, long lines outside the embassy on the same day.

BANGKOK — Election officials are on the defensive after overseas voters complained angrily about a raft of problems including missing ballots, incorrect candidate information and poor voting facilities.

Two weeks before polls open at home, #OverseasVoting was trending atop Thai Twitter on Monday with many comments slamming the Election Commission and diplomatic missions for mismanaging early voting.

“Student body elections at school look more organized than this election,” Twitter user @Litentoyou wrote.

Criticism blew up after a student in China tweeted Saturday about the obstacles to voting, including a ballot that didn’t come until nearly a week after voting began. The student said more than 500 voters registered to vote in Shanghai hadn’t received them at all.

“This election is the most transparent ever,” @TheKopfer wrote, sarcastically.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the problems reported in China were due to missing voter contact information, adding that all but five voters in Shanghai had received their ballots by Sunday.

“I [dislike] this commission the most. Salaries so high, but they work sloppily, like children,” @Newthinkkn wrote. “They spent 12 million to study elections in other countries and look what happened.”

Dissatisfaction over widespread reported mishaps fed existing concerns about the commission’s ability to stage a credible election at home in just two weeks. It comes days after it invited scorn by canceling important meetings because six members were traveling abroad at a cost of about 12 million baht.

Muangphum Hansiriphet, who heads a Thai student association in Nanjing, called onlinefor an investigation into problems there. He said that while helping the consulate locate voters, he learned information entered by voters in online registration forms had gone missing or become unreadable when the commission submitted it to the diplomatic mission.

The Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was forced to open Sunday for additional votingbecause it couldn’t accommodate the thousands who turned up the prior day. Many voters complained of waiting for hours and questioned why the commission couldn’t do better despite knowing how many people would vote.

Officials were shown using cardboard boxes to set up makeshift voting booths in photos posted online, reportedly because they didn’t receive enough from the commission, further stoking public outrage.

Without commenting on the cause of the problem, head commissioner Jarungvith Phumma said using a cardboard box was not illegal. He said it just didn’t “look very pleasant.”

He also said the commission was looking into several complaints regarding confusing documents listing candidates and their numbers for voters in London and New York.

Photos of the documents show some of the candidates names and photos did not appear next to their party names. For example, Parit “Itim” Wacharasindhu, who heads the Democrat Party’s youth wing, did not appear next to his party’s name. Instead it appeared above a candidate for the pro-establishment People Progressive Party.

Parit called for the commission to fix the issue because it might confuse voters.

“This error isn’t limited only to me but other candidates from other parties,” he said. “Every vote is valuable. … I hope the Election Commission and other related agencies take responsibility for this case.”

Nearly 82,000 people have registered to vote overseas, according to the commission. The vote is closing on March 16.

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Thais in Australia top overseas voter registration 

politics February 20, 2019 14:46

Original Source: By The Nation

Thai expats in Australia are the largest group of overseas voters, with 16,183 registering to vote, reported the Interior Ministry on Wednesday.

Continue reading 120,000 Thais overseas voters registered to vote in advance

Democratic Hopes in ASEAN Hinge on Thailand, Analysts Say

Democratic Hopes in ASEAN Hinge on Thailand, Analysts Say

25 March 2019


A child plays a toy guitar during a rally ahead of a general election in Bangkok, March 22, 2019. The nation's first general election since the military seized power in a 2014 coup is scheduled to be held March 24.
A child plays a toy guitar during a rally ahead of a general election in Bangkok, March 22, 2019. The nation’s first general election since the military seized power in a 2014 coup is scheduled to be held March 24.

BANGKOK

Thai voters head to the polls Sunday for the first time in nearly five years, and analysts say the results could have an impact on democracy throughout Southeast Asia.

Thailand’s military junta took power in May 2014, when then-army chief Prayut Chan-ocha led a coup that toppled the government. Observers see the coming elections as a struggle between democracy and military rule.

ការបោះឆ្នោត​ក្នុង​ប្រទេសថៃ​នៅ​ថ្ងៃអាទិត្យ​ខាងមុខ​ ត្រូវ​គេរំពឹងថា​នឹង​មាន​ចំនួន​មនុស្ស​ចេញ​ទៅ​បោះឆ្នោត​ច្រើន​នៅភាគខាងត្បូងប្រទេស ដែលទីនោះគឺជាកន្លែង​ប្រឆាំង​នឹង​យោធា​នៅក្នុងតំបន់។ ប៉ុន្តែក្រុមអ្នកបោះឆ្នោត​និង​ក្រុមប្រឆាំង​ព្រួយបារម្ភ​ថា ​ការបង្រ្កាប​ដោយ​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​ទៅលើសំឡេងប្រឆាំងនឹងធ្វើឲ្យពួកយោធាគ្រប់គ្រង​ ប្រទេសមួយអាណត្តិទៀត។

Prayut, now seeking the premiership, has said that if he wins, voters would be returning his junta-led country to a “democracy.”

Prayut Chan-ocha of the Palang Pracharat Party receives flowers from supporters during an election campaign rally in Bangkok, Thailand, March 22, 2019.
Prayut Chan-ocha of the Palang Pracharat Party receives flowers from supporters during an election campaign rally in Bangkok, Thailand, March 22, 2019.

Thailand is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and pro-democracy advocates within the trading bloc are paying close attention to the vote, despite its policy of noninterference in members’ internal affairs.

The ASEAN Post, an independent regional digital media company in Kuala Lumpur, recently noted that freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and press freedom had deteriorated since the junta seized power, initiating the longest period of army rule in modern Thai history.

“Several hundred activists and dissidents have since been called national security threats and faced serious criminal charges such as sedition, computer-related crimes and lese majeste [insulting the monarchy] for peaceful expression of their views,” it noted in a recent opinion piece.

The coup — Thailand’s 13th since 1932 — ousted then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and caused international outrage. The pending elections, the military hopes, will fix that.

Myanmar’s experience

The election framework echoes the 2015 ballot in neighboring Myanmar, where hopes of democratic freedom were dashed by a military that has maintained an overarching influence on a civilian administration, through its allotted seats in parliament.

A more drastic story has unfolded along Thailand’s eastern border.

Cambodia was returned to a one-party state last year after the main opposition party was banned from competing at elections, media outlets were closed and political dissidents were jailed, raising the prospect of U.S.- and European-imposed sanctions.

Elections will also be held in Indonesia in April, and midterm polls are to be held a month later in the Philippines, where the separation of powers — a cornerstone in any democracy — has foundered amid the government’s war on drugs.

Sudarat Keyuraphan, leader of the Pheu Thai Party and a candidate for prime minister, second right, and contestants wave during a rally ahead of general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, March 22, 2019.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, leader of the Pheu Thai Party and a candidate for prime minister, second right, and contestants wave during a rally ahead of general elections in Bangkok, Thailand, March 22, 2019.

Singapore has been ruled by the same party since independence in 1965. Of the remaining non-democratic countries, communist Vietnam and Laos have initiated crackdowns on dissent, while Islamic Brunei has instituted sharia.

David Welsh, country director in Southeast Asia for the Solidarity Center, a nonprofit that seeks to help build a global labor movement, said human rights were a major concern ahead of looming elections, and that the strong-arm from governments favoring big business were affecting workers and trade union issues.

“The prospects for business and trade are probably pretty good. The prospects for labor laws and worker protection aren’t, although I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what’s happened in Malaysia, so let’s see,” Welsh said.

Bright spot

Malaysia emerged as one the few democratic bright spots among the 10 members of ASEAN after the electorate, which tired of allegations of gross corruption, stunned pollsters and ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is now facing trial.

Continue reading Democratic Hopes in ASEAN Hinge on Thailand, Analysts Say

Remittances Pull Farmers Deeper Into Debt, Research Finds

Remittances Pull Farmers Deeper Into Debt, Research Finds

13 March 2019


FILE PHOTO - Cambodian migrant workers sit in a bus upon arrival at Cambodia-Thailand's international border gate in Poipet, Cambodia, from Thailand, Tuesday, June 17, 2014.
FILE PHOTO – Cambodian migrant workers sit in a bus upon arrival at Cambodia-Thailand’s international border gate in Poipet, Cambodia, from Thailand, Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

The study found that families receiving remittances saw an average increase in debt of 6 percent.WASHINGTON DC — 

Remittances sent home by Cambodian migrant workers result in their families falling deeper into debt as they become more prone to borrowing, a study has found.

The report, “The Cambodia Debt Trap? A Study of the Relationship Between Remittance and Household Debt”, published in January by the Future Forum think tank, found that households that received more remittance payments tended to rely more heavily on loans from banks, microfinance institutions, and private lenders.

“The situation of remittances and debt in the Cambodian context in the short run can be viewed positively as it helps migrant families ensure their living requirements [are met], such as food, transport, and accommodation,” wrote Lor Samnang, the lead researcher.

But in the long term, Samnang found that families become over-indebted as loans are used to finance unprofitable ventures.

The study found that families receiving remittances saw an average increase in debt of 6 percent.

Some 2 million Cambodians work overseas in countries such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore, predominantly in low-paid jobs such as construction, fisheries, manufacturing, farming, and the service industry.

They send home more than $400 million annually, according to the World Bank.

“Debt has forced many into migration, but what we’ve found is not only that,” said Ou Virak, president of the Future Forum. “We’ve found out that those who have migrated are indebted even further after they have more money. It’s now not only debt that has forced them to migrate, but migration is putting them deeper in debt.”

The Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, a farmers association, said debt was the second most important issue facing farmers after lack of market access for their produce.

“The main factor is their livelihood, which is getting harder and harder,” said Theng Savoeun, coordinator of Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community. “Their agricultural work in rural areas is getting tougher. Their rice or agricultural products do not have enough market. These have forced them to migrate or seek other jobs.”

Formal lenders may charge interest rates as high as 20 percent per annum, while informal lenders often charge more.

“Prices do not enable our farmers to make more profit to pay their debt,” said agriculture expert Yang Saign Koma, chairman of the board of directors of the Grassroots Democracy Party. “We’ve seen this getting worse and worse. At the end of the month, they are worried about finding money to repay debt. This will become a big catastrophe for Cambodia in the next four or five years.”

Former opposition politicians have criticized Cambodian agricultural policy for its failure to find markets for farmers and boost production.

“This is a big deal,” said Mu Sochua, vice president of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party. “People migrate because of debt. The debt is not used only for meeting the needs of their agriculture, but to pay for other services like health and education for their children. These should be free, but they are not available.”

The study also found that only about a third of loans were used to finance economic activities, with most of the debt going on essentials and non-profitable spending. It recommends a financial literacy program and support from major financial institutions and the authorities.

“At the moment I see that this is a topic that must be debated to pressure banking institutions, especially microfinance, to pay more attention before giving out loans,” said Virak. “They are worried to lose their money when people are unable to pay back and they cannot confiscate their houses or rice fields or farm. Therefore they must be cautious.

“I believe that putting pressure on the banks is a more effective measure.”

ការ​ស្រាវជ្រាវ​ថា​ប្រាក់​បញ្ញើ​ធ្វើ​ឱ្យ​គ្រួសារ​ជន​ចំណាកស្រុក​ជំពាក់​បំណុល​កាន់តែ​ខ្លាំង

05 មិនា 2019


រូបឯកសារ៖ ពលករចំណាក​ស្រុក​កម្ពុជាធ្វើដំណើរឆ្លងព្រំដែន​ថៃចូល​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា តាមច្រកខេត្តសាកែវ ប្រទេសថៃ កាលពីថ្ងែទី១៥ ខែមិថុនា ឆ្នាំ២០១៤។
រូបឯកសារ៖ ពលករចំណាក​ស្រុក​កម្ពុជាធ្វើដំណើរឆ្លងព្រំដែន​ថៃចូល​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា តាមច្រកខេត្តសាកែវ ប្រទេសថៃ កាលពីថ្ងែទី១៥ ខែមិថុនា ឆ្នាំ២០១៤។

ក្នុងឆ្នាំ​២០១៨ ពលករចំណាកស្រុក​​ផ្ញើ​ប្រាក់​ចំនួន​៤១៤​លានដុល្លារ​ទៅ​ឱ្យ​ក្រុមគ្រួសារ។ នេះ​បើ​តាម​តួលេខ​ឆ្នាំ​២០១៨​របស់​ធនាគារ​ពិភព​លោក។វ៉ាស៊ីនតោន — 

ប្រាក់​បញ្ញើពីក្រៅ​ប្រទេស​របស់ពលករ​ចំណាក​ស្រុក​មិនអាច​ជួយ​ដោះបន្ទុក​ប្រាក់​បំណុលរបស់​ក្រុមគ្រួសារ​ទេ។​ ផ្ទុយទៅវិញ​ វា​បាន​ក្លាយ​ជា​អន្ទាក់​មួយ​ធ្វើ​ឱ្យ​មាន​ការ​ជំពាក់​បំណុល​កាន់តែ​ខ្លាំងឡើង​ក្នុង​រយៈ​ពេល​យូរ​ ដែល​អាច​ធ្វើ​ឱ្យ​កសិករធ្លាក់​ក្នុង​ភាព​ក្រីក្រ​កាន់តែ​ជ្រៅ។ នេះ​បើតាម​លទ្ធផល​នៃ​ការសិក្សា​ស្រាវជ្រាវ​មួយ។​

Continue reading Remittances Pull Farmers Deeper Into Debt, Research Finds