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Uttama Savanayana, Palang Pracharat Party leader, holds a news conference during the general election in Bangkok, Thailand, March 24, 2019. VOA

Thais waited Monday for the results of an election called a return to democratic rule, but which has been widely criticized as an exercise designed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to entrench his military’s stranglehold on power.

Preliminary official results released late Sunday showed that with 93 percent of ballots counted the military-backed Phalang Pracharat party was in the lead with about 7.6 million votes, short of what would be needed for a majority in parliament.


In second place was the Pheu Thai party of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra with 7.1 million votes.

The campaign was marred by allegations of vote buying, however, complaints were few on polling day with election observers from Australia, Canada, the United States and the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations on hand.

Security was tight and opinions were mixed as about 52 million Thais voted. But the long shadow of the military is still having an impact, most of those willing to express an opinion declined to be identified.

Some were positive about the outcomes, particularly among the youth vote. A hotel receptionist said before voting, “I have my choice in my mind, it’s good for me, I like it.”

Another said she had faith in a political system guided by the military and Thailand’s 20th constitution, written after 13 coups since 1932, “We are very confident with the election today, it is going to be democratic and fair to the society.”

Others remained angry about the coup in 2014, which ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and installed General Prayut as head of a junta that curtailed civil liberties and banned political opposition.

“The coup is a really terrible thing that happened to our country. You can not say what you want or what you think, you can not protest because they will take you to the jail,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by others who said it was wrong that Prayut and the military could dominate the political system and exert their influence to the point where they are widely expected to remain in control after this election.

“To answer whether to bring democracy back to Thailand is good or not; I won’t say it’s good,” one middle-aged businessman said. “Everywhere in the world, in every country – even in America – you see how democracy works. Does it work for the country or the privileged few?”


Supporters of Pheu Thai Party react after unofficial results, during the general election in Bangkok, Thailand, March 24, 2019. VOA

Paul Chen, 80, was an exception. He spoke openly and said the elections were a step in the right direction and could provide a much needed boost for the economy, but noted the legal restrictions imposed by the junta.

“After today I think everything will be getting better,” he said. “They have so many good political parties, about two or three, but I can not mention their name, it may be against the law.”

Thais have cast votes for the 500-seat House of Representatives, while 250 members in the Senate will be appointed by the armed forces. A joint session of both houses will elect the next prime minister.

A key figure will be the overall popular vote. Pheu Thai, the party of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin – who was also ousted by a coup in 2006 – are expected to poll well in the rural north.

Future Forward, led by the young entrepreneur Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has been effective in attracting the youth vote with promises to end military conscription, and inclusive polices have endeared him to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The youth vote and the LGBT community number around seven million each. Combined, they share 25 percent of the total vote. But seat distribution and absolute military control of the Senate leaves General Prayut’s Phalang Pracharat as the only likely clear winner.

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“In Thailand today after five years of dictatorship, we see these rising expectations among voters. Social mobilization, political participation, people want change,” said Paul Chambers, lecturer and special advisor on international affairs at Naresuan University, Phitsanulok.

“You know the last time there was a long period like this of dictatorship between elections, my gosh its maybe 30 years ago. So people really want change. Now the junta leaders are not stupid, they’re certainly trying to corral and control.”

During a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand Chambers said, “… you know you can’t stay in power militarily forever, you have to change your legitimacy, somehow. And the best way to do that in the world today is to have a so-called democracy.” Election results are not expected to be ratified until late May. (VOA)


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Upcoming medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages

The new medical colleges being opened in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages.

The state government has issued an order naming four district hospitals that are being converted into medical colleges.

These district hospitals are in Bijnor, Fatehpur, Chandauli, and Siddharth Nagar.

The Bijnor medical college has been named after Mahatma Vidur, a philosopher during the Mahabharata era and uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas.

The Chandauli medical college has been named after Baba Keenaram, said to be the founder of the Aghori sect.

The Siddharth Nagar district hospital will be called Madhav Prasad Tripathi Medical College after the BJP politician from the region. Tripathi, popularly known as Madhav Babu, was also the first Uttar Pradesh BJP chief. He was elected MP from Domariyaganj in 1977, besides being two times Jan Sangh MLA and also a member of the UP legislative council.

The Fatehpur hospital has been named Amar Shaheed Jodha Singh Ataiya Thakur Dariyawn Singh Medical College, after the freedom fighter of 1857.

It is said that he was among the first to use Guerrilla warfare against the British, as taught by freedom fighter Tatya Tope.

Meanwhile, according to official sources, the medical college in Deoria will be named after Maharishi Devraha Baba and the medical college of Ghazipur in the name of Maharishi Vishwamitra.

The medical college of Mirzapur will be in the name of Maa Vindhyavasini, the medical college of Pratapgarh in the name of Dr. Sonelal Patel and the medical college of Etah will be named after Veerangana Avantibai Lodhi. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Medical Colleges, Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, India, Politics


Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Indian cricket team on the ground

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has picked India as the favourite to win the ongoing ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Oman and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Inzamam feels that the Virat Kohli-led India have a greater chance of winning the trophy as the conditions in the Gulf nations are similar to the subcontinent, which makes India the most dangerous side in the event, according to Inzamam.

"In any tournament, it cannot be said for certain that a particular team will win' It's all about how much chance do they have of winning it. In my opinion, India have a greater chance than any other team of winning this tournament, especially in conditions like these. They have experienced T20 players as well," said Inzamam on his YouTube channel.

He said more than the Indian batters, the bowlers have a lot of experience of playing in the conditions. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was played recently in UAE and most of the Indian bowlers did well in that leg.

Inzy heaped praises on the Men in Blue for the confident manner in which they chased the target against Australia on a challenging track without needing Kohli's batting prowess.

"India played their warm-up fixture against Australia rather comfortably. On subcontinent pitches like these, India are the most dangerous T20 side in the world. Even today, if we see the 155 runs they chased down, they did not even need Virat Kohli to do so," he added.

Though he did not pick any favourite, Inzamam termed the India-Pakistan clash in the Super 12 on October 24 as the 'final before the final' and said the team winning it will go into the remaining matches high on morale,

"The match between India and Pakistan in the Super 12s is the final before the final. No match will be hyped as much as this one. Even in the 2017 Champions Trophy, India and Pakistan started and finished the tournament by facing each other, and both the matches felt like finals. The team winning that match will have their morale boosted and will also have 50 percent of pressure released from them," Inzamam added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Pakistan, Sports, ICC T20 World Cup, UAE.


Photo by Diana Akhmetianova on Unsplash

Skin problems like itchiness, dryness and flakiness can occur anytime if you're not moisturising your body enough.

Skin problems like itchiness, dryness and flakiness can occur anytime if you're not moisturising your body enough. It is commonly observed that while many people take their skincare routine seriously, a majority of them neglect to moisturise the body. It is important to keep in mind that timing matters a lot when it comes to applying moisturisers. Therefore, knowing the appropriate time to apply body lotion is essential.

Take a look at the ideal times to moisturise your body shared by Kimi Jain, Head of Retail, KIMRICA.

Morning
Moisturising the body in the morning sets your skin up to face countless irritants and environmental factors during the day. The skin is constantly exposed to harsh chemicals and pollutants when you're outside which is why using a protective and soothing moisturiser while going out is necessary. Kimirica's Five Elements Body Lotion comes with natural Aloe Vera extracts that act as a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins that helps protect your skin and provide a deep nourishing effect.

man in white crew neck t-shirt Moisturising the body in the morning sets your skin up to face countless irritants and environmental factors during the day. | Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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