Thai junta chief proclaimed second-time prime minister

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has served as prime minister since he led a military coup that toppled an elected government in 2014. (EPA)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Thai junta chief proclaimed second-time prime minister

  • Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has served as prime minister since he led a military coup that toppled an elected government in 2014

BANGKOK: Thailand’s king formally endorsed former army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha as an elected prime minister on Tuesday, five years after he seized power in a military coup, though the makeup of his coalition government’s cabinet is unclear.

Prayuth’s unwieldy coalition will face fierce opposition from the Democratic Front of seven parties that says the military junta’s electoral rules ensured a victory for pro-army forces and whose members have been subjected to what they denounce as legal harassment.

Thailand held a bitterly fought general election in March, and the new parliament last week voted for Prayuth as prime minister, thanks to the votes of the upper house, the Senate, which was entirely appointed by the military junta Prayuth had led since 2104.

In the 500-member elected lower House of Representatives, his 19-party coalition holds only a slim majority and media has been rife with reports of wrangling over cabinet positions.

Prayuth earlier on Tuesday expressed optimism.

“The policy ideas proposed by parties are all beneficial to the people. So, the government that comes from the election and through the joining of members of parliament must be a government of all Thais,” he said

“I hope things will be sorted out as soon as possible.”

During the swearing-in, Prayuth bowed to a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The monarch, who was formally crowned in ornate rites last month, did not attend the ceremony.

“I will promote a peaceful environment for a unified society based on love, unity and compassion ... and I will safeguard the dignity of the institutions of state, religion and the monarchy, which are deeply cherished by the people of Thailand,” Prayuth said.

The junta leader had campaigned on a promise of bringing an end to confrontation between opponents and supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose loyalists lead the Pheu Thai Party that heads the Democratic Front.

Prayuth’s party members have in some cases accused rivals of insufficient loyalty to the monarchy, and the leader of the opposition Future Forward Party — also part of the Democratic Front — faces police charges of sedition and cybercrime.


Indian doctors strike over violence from patients and families

Updated 34 min 12 sec ago
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Indian doctors strike over violence from patients and families

  • The strike is in solidarity with doctors in the eastern state of West Bengal after three were viciously attacked by the relatives of a man who died
  • The strike in West Bengal has crippled medical services for the state’s 90 million people

NEW DELHI: Tens of thousands of Indian doctors went on strike Monday calling for more protection against violence by patients and their families, as parliament met for the first time since national elections.
The nationwide strike, which will last until Tuesday morning, is in solidarity with doctors in the eastern state of West Bengal after three were viciously attacked by the relatives of a man who died.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), representing 350,000 of India’s 900,000 doctors, called for tougher punishments for those assaulting medical staff.
Blaming the attacks in part on “high expectations” by patients, poor infrastructure and inadequate staffing, the IMA said hospitals should have more security cameras and that the entry of visitors to hospitals should be restricted.
The strike, which does not include emergency services, takes place as parliament convened for the first time since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected in a landslide last month.
Doctors in West Bengal’s capital Kolkata have been on strike since last Monday, when a family assaulted three doctors after a relative died during treatment at a state-run hospital.
The family, who blamed the death on negligence by the doctors, lashed out violently and left two of the medical staff critically injured.
The strike in West Bengal, which has also been wracked by weeks of political violence with almost 20 people killed, has crippled medical services for the state’s 90 million people.
On Monday doctors in the state were due to discuss the strike with Mamata Banerjee, the state premier and fierce Modi opponent.
India spends less than two percent of its GDP on health care, making it one of the lowest investors in the sector globally, with the World Health Organization placing it below both Iraq and Venezuela.
However, Modicare — a quietly successful part of Modi’s surprising re-election — is a huge public health initiative set to benefit the poorest.