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Somkid asked to sacrifice post

Posted by arnon_k On September - 22 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Muslim Democrat MPs want Saudi row defused

Muslim Democrat Party MPs are calling on Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom to refuse his promotion to assistant national police chief as a gesture to help defuse tensions with Saudi Arabia.

The MPs’ request is in stark contrast to statements by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the party leader, and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the party’s secretary-general, in support of the officer’s promotion.

Riyadh is unhappy with the promotion of Pol Lt Gen Somkid, one of five suspects who have been indicted over the disappearance of Saudi businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili in Thailand 20 years ago.

The Saudi embassy has been accused of dragging its feet in the granting of visas to Thais wanting to make the annual haj pilgrimage this year, but it says technical problems are to blame for the delays.

Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said 392 Thai-Muslims whose visas had been held up were processed yesterday afternoon by the Saudi embassy.

Saudi charge d’affaires Nabil Hussein Ashri also confirmed to the ministry that the 10,000-plus Thai Muslims who had applied for visas would be able to travel to Mecca on time.

But the Culture Ministry claims more than a thousand applications are being held up due to the embassy’s shortage of staff.

Muslim Democrat MPs from the South discussed the embassy’s delay in granting visas to haj pilgrims at a party meeting yesterday.

Jae-aming Tortayong of Narathiwat said he thought the difficulties were linked to the controversy surrounding Pol Lt Gen Somkid.

Mr Jae-aming said the dispute over Pol Lt Gen Somkid should not be allowed to hinder pilgrims’ applications for visas to Saudi Arabia.

He called on Pol Lt Gen Somkid to forego the post of assistant national police chief in favour of better ties between the two countries.

Asi Mahamadyankee of Satun said Pol Lt Gen Somkid should make a sacrifice and not take the new job. His refusal to accept the assistant chief position would be the best solution for all, the MP said.

Satun Islamic Committee chairman Ibrahim Adam said about 13,000 Thais were planning to go on the haj to Mecca this year. About 8,000 of these were from the 14 provinces in the South.

Mr Ibrahim said many Muslims were concerned about the Saudi embassy being closed because of the worsening ties between the two countries following Pol Lt Gen Somkid’s promotion.

They were worried they might have to go to a neighbouring country such as Laos or Cambodia to apply for a visa to enter Saudi Arabia.

Mr Abhisit told the meeting the government was trying to address the dispute with Riyadh but he had to ensure that there was due compliance with Thai laws. The prime minister said nobody should politicise this issue.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said he had phoned the Saudi charge d’affaires in Thailand to ask that all Thai pilgrims be issued with their visas.

“After speaking with Mr Ashri, I called Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat and the Religious Affairs Department to ask them to coordinate with the Foreign Ministry’s South Asian Department to help Thai Muslims receive their visas,” Mr Kasit said.

Pheu Thai-Gov’t fence-mending talks on track

Posted by arnon_k On September - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The five-point Pheu Thai plan for reconciliation with the government has remained on table, party deputy leader Plodprasop Suraswadi said on Tuesday, dismissing speculation about the plan aborted.

“Pheu Thai will not be discouraged nor call off the reconciliation just because someone in the government made offensive remarks,” he said.

The speculation about the collapse of fence-mending talks circulated after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban voiced scepticism about the opposition’s sincerity by citing continuing attempts to undermine the monarchy.

This prompted a fiery denial from Pheu Thai leader Yongyuth Wichaidit.

Plodprasop said he was surprised by the Suthep-Yongyuth spat since the two had family ties and came from the same hometown, Surat Thani.

He insisted, however, that Yongyuth merely reacted to Suthep’s remarks in his personal capacity, which did not reflect on the party’s stand.

“The reconciliation plan has been endorsed by the Phue Thai executive board,” he said, adding his main opposition party is in the process of naming its representatives for fence-mending talks.

PM assures Saudis over Somkid’s rise

Posted by arnon_k On September - 7 - 2010 2 COMMENTS

The prime minister has given an assurance that the appointment of Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom as an assistant national police chief will not affect his trial over the disappearance of a Saudi businessman.

But Saudi Arabia said yesterday it had been patient long enough and now wanted a series of “terrorising and horrible crimes” solved.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has assigned Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Royal Thai Police to clarify the appointment of Pol Lt Gen Somkid to the Saudi government which has lashed out at Thailand over the promotion.

“It is the Thai government’s duty to explain to them about the police promotion system, the promotion criteria and the fact that the promotion would not affect the trial against Pol Lt Gen Somkid,” Mr Abhisit said yesterday.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok yesterday issued another statement with a tougher tone in response to Thai officials who have defended the appointment.

“For more than 20 years since the occurrence of these shocking, terrorising and horrible crimes and incidents, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its part has shown understanding, patience and extended all means of cooperation to aid the relevant Thai authorities in their investigations to uncover these crimes,” the embassy’s statement said, referring to the disappearance of businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili and the murders of four Saudi diplomatic staff in Bangkok.

The embassy said it understood the case would go to Bangkok Criminal Court on Nov 25 and questioned whether Pol Lt Gen Somkid’s promotion not only violated Thai law but could perhaps hinder the chances of justice being served.

The embassy “urges and anticipates witnessing transparency, justice and non-interference” in the case.

Pol Lt Gen Somkid and four other active and former police officers were indicted on Jan 12 by public prosecutors in connection with the disappearance of Mr al-Ruwaili in 1990.

Mr Suthep, who is also in charge of national security, said yesterday the promotion of Pol Lt Gen Somkid would not be completed until it had received royal endorsement.

He said he would make public details of the letter he would send to the Saudi embassy clarifying the promotion.”Whether Pol Lt Gen Somkid will be found guilty will depend on the judicial system. If he is guilty, it [the promotion] will have a problem,” he said.

Sirichoke: Bout fooling MP Torpong

Posted by arnon_k On September - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Detained Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout could be using opposition Puea Thai Party MP and house committee on foreign affairs chairman Torpong Chaiyasarn to prevent him from being extradited to the United States, Democrat Party MP Sirichoke Sopha said on Monday morning.

“I believe the documents given to Mr Torpong by Mr Bout accuse the US government of injustice and criticise the Thai justice system since Mr Bout does not want to be taken to the US.

“I don’t know why Mr Torpong is acting as Mr Bout’s lawyer,” Mr Sirichoke said.

The Democrat MP said he did not take anyone else to meet Mr Bout during their meeting on April 15 at the Bangkok Remand Prison and did not give his phone number to the Russian.

“I will explain everything about my meeting with Mr Bout and how Mr Bout is deceiving Mr Torpong this Wednesday,” he said.

Mr Sirichoke earlier said his visit was party of his duty as an MP to seek information from the suspect.

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