Monday, 16 January 2017

The Weekly Briefing: 9 - 15 January 2017

Cyber war on Junta over Computer Criminal Act

Those opposed to the new Computer Crime Act, which was unanimously passed on 16 December 2016, are threatening to start a cyber war against the junta government. The amendment also gives them the permission to go to any lengths to see information that’s online but not for public consumption, including decryption.

The new year break has been a bruising one for the Thai government, with members of the Anonymous collective attacking many Thai government websites in retaliation to its passage of the controversial computer crime law under the hashtag #opsinglegateway, which refers to the mass surveillance program that the Thai government still seems eager to push forward.

In one of the most high-profile attacks, the Thai consulate website in Los Angeles was not only hacked and defaced, but personal information of what was claimed to be people applying for Thailand visas was doxxed or leaked.

Charter will be dropped Feb 6 without king’s endorsement

On 10 January 2017, in order to go into effect, the draft constitution passed in a contentious referendum marked by suppression of free debate, must receive royal endorsement within 90 days after being submitted to the king. If that doesn’t happen, the interim charter put in place after the May 2014 coup might need to be amended to resolve the deadlock.

King requests sections of the country's draft constitution to be rewritten

On 10 JAnuary  2017, Prayuth said he would use his self-granted absolute power under Article 44 to amend the 2014 interim charter to make it possible to change an already approved constitution after the king told members of his privy council he wanted some sections rewritten.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn Photo: AFP
Later, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam confirmed the articles to be rewritten are 5, 17 and 182.

The interim charter stipulates that if the King does not approve it, or if he does not act within 90 days, the charter should be nullified.

Under the interim charter amendment bill proposed by the government, when the prime minister submits the new constitution for royal endorsement and if the King makes observations about any charter amendments within 90 days of the new charter being submitted, the prime minister must ask for the document back so amendments can be made at the King's behest.

The draft amendment featured two main issues

The Nation reports that  one was Article 3, which involved a new stipulation: “Should the King not reside in the Kingdom or should the King not be able to perform his duty for any reasons, the King shall or shall not designate a regent by his preference and such a command shall be countersigned by president of the Parliament.” The passage was to be added to the existing Article 2 of the charter.

The second issue affected Article 4 of the Interim Charter, providing a mechanism for the charter draft to be returned to the prime minister for amendments in line with the King’s advice.

NLA approves to amend charter regarding King's power 

On 13 January 2017, The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) approved an amendment of the interim charter to allow changes to the new constitution regarding the Majesty the King's authority.

Of 231 assembly members, 228 voted in favor of the changes with three members abstaining, according to a televised session of the vote.

The assembly also made changes that allowed the king to travel overseas without having to appoint a regent to rule in his stead.

The draft seeks to amend paragraph 3 of Section 2 and Section 39/1 of the interim constitution.

Paragraph 3 of Section 2 stipulates, in essence, that in case the King is not present in the kingdom or cannot perform his duties, he can appoint or not to appoint a person to become the Regent and the president of the parliament will counter-sign the appointment on behalf of the King.

The parts of the constitution, the king has asked to be rewritten it seems he wants to continue being able to leave Thailand.

Detained student activist Pai Jatupat denied bail again

On 13 January 2017, Khon Kaen Court rejected student activist "Pai" Jatupat's request to be released on bail of 500,000 baht (£12,600) from prison. This is now the fifth time that Jatupat has been denied bail in the case accusing of sharing online a Thai-language BBC story of the new king on his Facebook.

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