Thai govt may lift martial law in certain provinces

Thai govt may lift martial law in certain provinces

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that the government would consider lifting martial law in some provinces to boost the country’s economic recovery and bring back tourists.

Financial authorities have predicted a gloomy economic outlook for Thailand, with gross domestic product projected to grow by no more than 1.5 per cent this year.

Wissanu also cited the government’s policy address to Parliament on August 12 that said martial law would be lifted when the time was right.

“The issue here is how we are going to revoke or relax martial law to create a good atmosphere for reform and reconciliation,” he said.

For instance, he said, if martial law had 10 regulations, then the government might ease restrictions by only imposing two or three rules in some provinces.

He said martial law might not be necessary because the government has other measures in place that can be used, such as the emergency decree, national-security laws and the criminal code.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda agreed with Wissanu, saying there were no political undercurrents that might delay the lifting of the law. He said he had not heard of any major political activities after the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship threatened to stage a protest rally if its opponent, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, continues pushing the National Legislative Assembly to impeach Yingluck Shinawatra, the elected prime minister overthrown by the military in May.

Yingluck faces impeachment over her alleged failure to stem graft in the loss-making rice-pledging scheme.

Finance Ministry permanent secretary Rangsan Srivorasart said the total loss from the subsidy programme could be estimated at about 500 billion baht, though this number could be brought down if the government is able to sell stored rice at a good price.

The ministry will submit a final report on the stockpiled rice to the Cabinet by the middle of this month.

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