Thai officials have closed Maya Bay in Krabi province indefinitely. It was supposed to be temporarily shut from June to September to allow the strained eco system to recover from the thousands of tourists that have visited the popular beach. I explain why it remains closed.
The newly-established Future Forward Party has presented its next steps for coming months in the run-up of democratic elections early next year. Here's my report on the party’s plans and its challenges ahead.
As Thailand’s political landscape slowly awakes from its forced slumber since the military coup of 2014, the political parties are holding their first official activities after a partial lift on these activity restrictions a few weeks ago.
The newly established Future Forward Party has outlined its next steps in the run up of democratic elections for next year, but before that it was showcasing its - at least for Thai political standards - very progressive ideals, including opposing the current military government and any long-lasting legacies it may or may not leave behind. More importantly, the party wants to re-establish trust in the democratic system.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Co-Founder Future Forward Party:
"[The people need] their power, their rights, their voices, their part in the decision making. They need new opportunities in order to progress and contribute to the economy and society. They need the public infrastructure and the public assistance as a foundation."
Furthermore, the party wants to utilize an online-based membership drive in order to get as many new recruits to the party as possible in the next few months. Would-be members can sign up online as opposed to the usual paperwork conventional parties would require.
As for the challenges ahead, not only do they have to fight against established parties with established voter bases upcountry and translate the hype from the launch into actual votes - the founder of the party, 38-year old billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two other members have been recently charged with computer crimes after criticizing the current military government.
When asked whether this will be a concern in the coming months, Thanatorn’s remains defiant:
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit; Co-Founder Future Forward Party:
"The case against the three of us, it’s not a pressing concern for us. [In English] It’s not our concern, not our pressing concern. It’s not deterring us from walking the way we walk right now."
While political parties can now hold meetings and recruit new members, they still cannot go out and campaign. That is still prohibited by the restrictions of the current military, but they are expected to lifted by the end of this year or beginning of next year as the first democratic elections since 2011 are tentatively scheduled for as early as February and as late as May next year.
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Thai police have charged the founder of the อนาคตใหม่ - Future Forward Party and two other members for violating a computer crime law, after the miltiary government has filed a complaint against them following a Facebook Live stream on June 29 criticizing the miltiary. Here's my live cross on Channel NewsAsia explaining what that means for the party and their impact, even though elections are not happening until next year.
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