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Thai pro-democracy activist jailed for speaking out at monarchy protest

26. September 2023

Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa imprisoned after calling for reform of country’s strict lese-majesty law

A prominent pro-democracy activist has been sentenced to four years in prison for a speech he delivered during protests calling for reform of Thailand’s powerful monarchy.

Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, was at the forefront of a protest movement that erupted in 2020, when hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young students, took to the streets to call for democratic changes, including to the role of monarchy.

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Thailand to clamp down on cannabis use in major U-turn on drug policy

22. September 2023

Prime minister Srettha Thavisin has said the drug will be for medical use only, adding that problems arising from drug use have been ‘widespread’

Thailand’s new prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, has said his government will “rectify” its cannabis policy and limit its use to medical purposes within six months.

Thailand became the first country in Asia to decriminalise cannabis after it delisted the marijuana plant as a narcotic last year, leading to a boom of cannabis cafes and weed dispensaries in popular tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya.

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Estranged son of Thai King Vajiralongkorn says discussion of the monarchy should be allowed

21. September 2023

New York-based Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse signals he rejects Thailand’s harsh lese majeste laws, which ban criticism of the royal family

An estranged son of Thailand’s king who has spent almost all his adult life away from his homeland has unexpectedly gone public with his belief that open discussions about the country’s monarchy should be allowed, in a rejection of a harsh royal anti-defamation law.

Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, one of the king’s five sons, posted his opinion on Facebook after attending a photo exhibition in New York about people who have been charged under the law, Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code.

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Severe plankton bloom off Thailand creates marine ‘dead zone’

20. September 2023

Hundreds of mussel farm sites in Gulf of Thailand affected by regular blooms that scientists believe are exacerbated by climate crisis

An unusually dense plankton bloom off the eastern coast of Thailand is creating an aquatic “dead zone”, threatening the livelihood of local fishers who farm mussels in the waters.

Marine scientists say some areas in the Gulf of Thailand have more than 10 times the normal amount of plankton, turning the water a bright green and killing off marine life.

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Air con, a fridge and sofa: Thaksin Shinawatra’s ‘VVIP’ prison life in Thailand

10. September 2023

Activists claim the former PM has received special treatment at a special hospital ward, which stands in stark contrast to the overcrowded prison system

When Thailand’s former leader Thaksin Shinawatra returned from exile in August, he became arguably the most high-profile person held in the country’s notorious prisons. But the billionaire businessman, who was jailed over corruption-related charges, was inside for little more than 12 hours before he was moved to the premium ward of a hospital in Bangkok.

His perceived soft handling has prompted claims of special treatment and ignited a series of wider questions about standards within the prison system.

According to reports in Thai media, Thaksin was moved to the wing of a hospital with private rooms fitted with air conditioning and a TV, fridge, sofa and dining table, while under 24-hour care by nurses. The exact contents of his room are unclear.

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‘Major disruptor’: El Niño threatens the world’s rice supplies

07. September 2023

After India imposed an export ban on rice following destructive rains, prices have soared – now rising temperatures put crops across south-east Asia at risk

Normally by mid-August Thongpoon Moonchansong’s fields are submerged in still waters, with scattered rice plants reaching up to her knees. The waters are usually so abundant that if you plunge a net into the fields, you can draw out fish and crab to eat.

This year, though, things have been different. Rain has been falling in her village in Uttaradit province in the north of Thailand, but it has not been heavy or consistent enough. The canal next to Thongpoon’s family home is dry.

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Australia urged to expand flights to Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam in blueprint to boost trade

05. September 2023

Anthony Albanese will launch strategy amid intense debate over decision to block Qatar Airways’ request for further flights to Australia

Australia should expand flights to key south-east Asian markets such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, according to a sweeping economic blueprint to boost trade.

The strategy, to be released by the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, on Wednesday, also calls on the government to cut foreign investment barriers, fast track visas and urgently improve Australia’s “south-east Asia literacy”.

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