Rights panel summons police
Officers to testify on crackdown in Hat Yai

Police officers involved in a clash with opponents of the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline project last month will be asked to testify before the National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday.

A fact-finding panel had already heard testimonies of protesters who filed a petition alleging police used excessive force to break up a rally in Hat Yai on Dec 20, said Charan Ditha-apichai, of the Human Rights Commission.

Journalists who witnessed the incident had also given their accounts to the panel, he said.

The Songkhla police chief was among the officers who would be asked to give testimony.

After interviewing the police officers, panel members would visit Songkhla to gather more information, before distributing a report to government agencies, Mr Charan said.

Police should not stir any further tensions by making more arrests in connection with the case before the panel's work was complete, he said.

Many opponents of the project were injured by police in the melee.

Mr Charan also called for police to release seven vehicles rented by protesters that were impounded during the crackdown.

The Human Rights Commission had failed to fulfil its purpose since its establishment due to insufficient staffing levels and budgets, he said.

The commission would be forced to undergo restructuring every six months in an attempt to better cope with its workload.

“Our work is different from that of prosecutors or police,” he said. “Their duty is to ensure culprits are punished, while we aim to prevent human rights abuses.”


Bangkok Post, 13 January 2003

'Thai FBI' steps into fraud case
Advice sought on contracts, charges

Anchalee Kongrut

The Justice Ministry's Special Investigation Department, dubbed the “Thai FBI”, will be asked to look into the troubled 23-billion-baht wastewater treatment project in Samut Prakan.

The National Counter Corruption Commission is investigating the Klong Dan project, which the Thai Development Research Institute said in a paper was riddled with corruption.

Praphat Panyachartrak, minister of natural resources and environment and Plodprasop Suraswadi, the ministry's permanent secretary, met SID chief Pol Lt-Gen Noppadol Somboonsap yesterday.

The ministry will use information gathered by the SID to file criminal lawsuits, once the graft agency has sent on its findings.

The wrongdoers are said to have conspired in an elaborate scheme to inflate the project cost, making it perhaps the biggest waste treatment plant in Southeast Asia. They include senior Pollution Control Department staff and politicians.

The project was set in train by the Science Ministry in 1995 under the Chuan Leekpai government.

The project has been dogged by corruption allegations from the start. It is also opposed by local villagers, who fear that treated water from the plant will upset the coastal environment.

The Thai Development Research Institute said politicians had taken advantage of the scheme at every step. Signs of irregularities appeared at the bidding stage.

A consortium of companies put in the only bid. It was awarded the contract when under bidding regulations the process should have been called again.

Companies in the consortium are linked to cabinet members.

The land was bought for more than one billion baht in excess of the median price.

It was co-owned by two cabinet members in the then Chavalit Yongchaiyudh administration.

A former project engineer has petitioned the government, claiming changes in specifications and project materials inflated the cost to 23 billion baht from the original 12 billion baht.

His claims are being investigated separately by a senate committee.

Mr Praphat said he would visit the Klong Dan site today to gather information.

Mr Prapaht said the SID _ set up recently to handle sophisticated crimes _ would help the ministry deal with contracts that expire next month.

As of yesterday, 94% of the work was complete and 20 billion baht had been paid to the contractor, NPVSKG, comprising North West Water International, Prayoonvisava Engineering, Vichitbhan Construction, Si Sang Karn Yotah (1979), Krung Thon Engineers and Gateway Development.

Sources say the government would have scrapped the project a long time ago, but was bound by a contract with the consortium. The plant was built on a turn-key basis.

The Pollution Control Department was forced to pay the consortium daily damages of one million baht in 2001 after work was disrupted for several days when villagers blocked the construction site.


7 January 2003

We, the social, mass and peoples' movements and organisations of Asia and the Pacific from diverse social, cultural and political backgrounds have gathered together on 2-7, January 2003 at the Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad, India. We are gathered here in the ASF to exchange our experiences and raise our voices against neo-liberal globalisation, imperialism, militarism, patriarchy and fundamentalism.

We are meeting in Hyderabad, the city that is claimed to be a symbol of cyber-world in India. But it is also the capital of the state known for tragic suicides by hundreds of farmers and weavers, besides starvation deaths, due to the impact of neo-liberal globalization in recent years. The real history of the state is one of valiant peoples' struggles.

In fact, today the whole of Asia is yet again the center of poverty, war and intolerance, with the mass of people facing starvation, impoverishment, displacement, indebtedness, and destruction of livelihoods.

Imperialism targets Asia with its militarist and economic offensives for making strategic gains, including the greed for oil. The looming threat of war on Iraq by the United States of America imperils all of us, who have witnessed the Gulf War, the bombing of Afghanistan, and the continuing occupation of Palestine. US political and military interventions in Asia under its so-called War on Terror - particularly in South, South East and East Asia - has brought us to the brink of nuclear war. Meanwhile, all over the region, citizens are kept in check by un-democratic and draconian laws imposed by colluding regimes. This has promoted a false discourse on terrorism and security while systematically marginalising and assaulting people's struggles for survival, livelihoods, rights, inclusion and self-determination. All these pressures are generating ever more virulent forms of patriarchy and the oppression of Asian women.

The impact of capitalism and neo-liberal globalization continues to be felt across the region and affects the lives of every woman, man, youth and child. These effects are leading to widespread increases in levels of poverty and widening gaps between the rich and the poor. It has also led to the increasing degradation of the environment and ecology resulting in widespread disease and death threatening the very survival of the planet. Attacks on the economies of all countries in the region have lead to total loss of self-reliance, de-industrialization, privatization and destruction of natural resources of land, water and forests, and the retreat of labor protections. Agriculture, village and small scale industries are collapsing due to imports and subsidy cuts. The promotion of capitalist property rights and indiscriminate mechanisation by governments and transnational corporations are destroying people's knowledge, skills and livelihoods. The combined actions of the World Bank, IMF, ADB, export credit agencies, ODAs and WTO are willfully and deliberately undermining our economic and political sovereignty while destroying local and national economies. Debt continues to be used by the international financial institutions and donor countries to keep our countries in financial and economic bondage.

Capitalism and neo-liberal globalization also jeopardize peoples' lives and accentuate multiple forms of exclusions for the marginalised sections. The worse affected are women,children, indigenous peoples, Dalits, ethnic minorities, tribals, unorganised sector and migrant workers and other socially excluded groups. These have led to the depression of wages, mass unemployment and price increases making people more destitute, leading to tragic consequences like increase in child labor and trafficking in women and childen. Education, child care, health, transport all get privatised and subsidy cuts result in denial of services and food security for the poor. Meanwhile, instances of exclusions include the withdrawal of safety nets and affirmative action, rise in violence and discrimination against the vulnerable groups, flattening of social diversities that puts greater pressure on the minorities to conform to the dominant view and greater incidence of contrived conflict that pits these groups against one another.

There is a shrinking of democratic space within the nation-states as neo-liberal globalization with the rise of aggressively fundamentalist, intolerant and violent articulations of identities and an increase in the repressive powers of the state and the elites, leading to gross violation of civic and human rights.

We, therefore, resolve to carry forward and strengthen the solidarity for resisting imperialist domination. It will be necessary - and we will strive - in the coming days to include many more social movements into this process of resistance and to evolve democratic and transparent processes for coordinating activities and actions.

We believe that not only is Another World Possible but that Another World is Necessary! We affirm our faith in alternatives based on equity, social justice, human rights and socialism!

In particular, we resolve to carry forward the campaigns and struggle and move towards common actions in the following areas:

Prasittiporn KAN-ONSRI [NOI]
Assembly of the Poor. THAILAND.
99, 3 Floor Nakorn Sawan Rd.
Pomprab Bangkok Thailand. 10100.
T:F; 662 2811916 , 2812595, Mo 09-9273556
E-mail : : CC,,

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