In search of Phra Dhammajayo: first day failed
THURSDAY February 16, 2017, the first day of a search by over 4,000 of combined force of DSI, police and soldiers that looks for former abbot Phra Dhammajayo of Wat Phra Dhammakaya failed. The search that covered 196 rai of overall 2,000 rai of temple’s area ended at 4 p.m. with the search team coming back empty-handed and will continue the search on Friday.
The 72 years old former abbot is wanted on several arrest warrants for alleged laundering money and receiving stolen assets. He has refused to show up for questioning and acknowledge charges with authorities for nearly a year with an excuse of being very ill.
DSI deputy spokesman Woranan Srilam told the media at Thursday evening’s briefing that “the search today did not find Phra Dhammajayo but officials believe in intelligence reports that he is still in the temple. The search has covered only 15 percent of the total area.”
Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police said, “even though we haven’t found Phra Dhammajayo, one cannot conclude that the former abbot is not in the temple until the inspection is 100 percent complete.”
Beside the search warrant, the authorities also have a Section 44 order as another tool to impose complete control over the temple and search the remaining area which should resume at 8 a.m. Friday.
Top: DSI deputy spokesman Woranan Srilam briefing the Press on the search for Phra Dhammajayo at Wat Phra Dhammakaya earlier in the day. Photo: Nationmultimedia.com
Wind farm projects’ future known in 45 days
AN unsolved dispute arose when a wind farm was ruled illegal by the Supreme Administrative Court because it was on the Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro) land meant exclusively for growing crops. The other 15 wind farms located on Sor Por Kor land in Nakon Ratchasima and Chaiyaphum face the risk of having their license to develop a wind farm, an investment in renewable energy, revoked.
The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE) director-general Praphon Wongtharua said there are 11 wind farms that are waiting for approval of power purchase agreements by the Energy Regulatory Commission (which are now suspended until settlement) while the other four farms are already operating and selling electricity to Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).
“As it is, we don’t yet know how to help investors who have started projects whose licenses have been revoked or otherwise need to move to new locations,” said Mr Praphon.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said Alro will conclude its examination of whether wind energy projects comply with Sor Por Kor land lease contract requirements in the next 45 days.
Gen Chatchai said this on Wednesday after talking with Energy Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat over the misuse of Sor Por Kor land in a meeting attended by relevant officials from Agriculture and Cooperatives and Energy ministries.
According to the court, the wind farm in question was ruled unlawful because the land leased by the company breached the agricultural land reform law which requires that use of Sor Por Kor land for activities other than agriculture can be done only if the activities are in the interest of farmers but the electricity generated was in public interest and the farms were profit-making business that did not benefit the farmers directly.
First inset: A wind farm in Thailand. Photo: Internet
New app for Thai women abroad
Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development has launched a new smartphone app to help Thai women who work and live abroad or plan to do so.
Director-general of the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development Lertpanya Buranabundit introduced the app, Yingthai (which means Thai woman), on Saturday during the department’s training session.
Mr Lertpanya said “Those who are in trouble and need help in other countries can use the application to quickly to find useful information anywhere and anytime.” The Yingthai app provides information such as support networks in various countries, legal and cultural tips, contact numbers, how to prepare for overseas trips, lifestyle advice and information on Thai organizations in other countries.
The free app is ready for download in both Apple and Android platforms.
Second inset: The newly launched Yingthai app. Photo: Google Play Store
By Piboon Awasdaruharote