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Aide: Chavalit not leaving Puea Thai

Posted by arnon_k On October - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has no intention of resigning as chairman of the Puea Thai Party as rumoured, Lt-Gen Pirat Sawamipak said on Monday.

Lt-Gen Pirat, a retired army officer and close aide of Gen Chavalit, said the rumour was intended to divide the party’s members, particularly the retired military officers.

The rumour had it that Gen Chavalit was not satisfied with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra for failing to heed his advice to keep a low profile and show loyalty to the monarchy.

Gen Chavalit led a number of retired military officers into joining Puea Thai to show the party’s loyalty to the high institution.

“There is no such a problem, although Thaksin is now quite active. Gen Chavalit has warned him to keep a low profile, otherwise it would be difficult for him to help,” Lt-Gen Pirat said.

Charter court official Pasit sacked

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Pasit Sakdanarong has been dismissed as secretary to Constitution Court president Udomsak Nitimontree after the Puea Thai Party released a video on Sunday which could damage the court’s reputation.

The dismissal, effective from Monday, was announced by Mr Udomsak, who was accompanied by four other court judges. He said none of the judges had anything at all do with the scandal.

The footage released by Puea Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit at a news conference showed Democrat Party MP Wirat Romyen allegedly attempting to influence the court to call particular witnesses in the case in which the Democrat Party is accused of misusing a 29 million baht political party development fund in 2005.

If found guilty, the Democrat Party could be dissolved and many of its executives banned from politics for five years., including the prime minister

Mr Udomsak asked the government and agencies concerned to make fact-finding investigation into this matter.

The Constitution Court has also set up its own investigation committee.

Mr Udomsak said the court is impartial and nobody can interfere in its work.

PM under pressure to sack minister over probe

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS


Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to remove Chavarat Charnvirakul as interior minister _ a move which could disintegrate the Democrat-led administration.

Mr Chavarat, also official leader of the coalition Bhumjaithai Party, has been linked to fraud in a 3.49 billion baht computer leasing scheme of the Provincial Administration Department in a Department of Special Investigation (DSI) inquiry.

The DSI’s findings will be considered by the National Anti-Corruption Commission next week.

Mr Abhisit walked away from reporters when he was asked yesterday how he will take action against Mr Chavarat over the case.

Bhumjaithai de facto leader Newin Chidchob is upset by the DSI’s report and questions the Democrat Party’s motives in trying to speed the inquiry.

If Mr Chavarat is sacked, Bhumjaithai may leave the coalition in protest.

Some observers believe that in the event of a Bhumjaithai walkout, the Democrats will be forced to turn to the “Three Ps” faction of the Puea Pandin Party to shore up its majority.

Seizing its chance, the faction is stepping up pressure on Mr Abhisit to sack Mr Chavarat.

MP Phumin Leekijthiraprasert, attached to the “Three Ps” faction, said the prime minister should take action.

The outcome of the DSI’s graft inquiry into the computer scheme was grounds enough, he said.

The DSI has implicated four senior interior officials including the department’s director-general Mongkol Surasajja, who was backed by Mr Chavarat as new interior permanent secretary, in the alleged irregularities.

“It reflects the minister’s negligence of duty and the minister should be removed to maintain the government’s image,” said Mr Phumin.

“There is no need to wait for the final outcome,” he said, citing Mr Abhisit’s aim, declared when he took office, to ensure clean government.

In a move widely seen as a bid to take pressure off Mr Chavarat, Mr Mongkol yesterday announced that he will not accept the post of permanent secretary.

“I’ve told the interior minister that I have declined the promotion. As a subordinate, if I consider myself unfit for the job, I shouldn’t take it,” he said.

He will hold talks with the contractor Control Data Co about revoking the computer leasing contract.

Mr Abhisit said yesterday that Mr Mongkol’s decision not to take the job has nothing to do with the investigation into alleged graft in the computer leasing scheme. “The inquiry will continue. The two issues are separate,” he said.

Mr Mongkol’s move suggests the Democrat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party are not ready for a break-up and have reached a compromise.

Mr Mongkol’s sacrifice and the cancellation of the deal with the contractor are expected to take the heat off while they are figuring out how to clear Mr Chavarat’s name, said a source.

Democrat leaders are reluctant to bring in the “Three Ps” faction headed by veteran politicians Phinij Jarusombat, Preecha Laohapongchana and Pairote Suwanchawee.

Mr Mongkol insisted he was not under pressure to give up the job.

Newin softens combative tone

Posted by arnon_k On October - 18 - 2010 5 COMMENTS

Coalition works to end rift over graft charges

Newin Chidchob, de facto leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, has ordered members of his party not to bicker with the Democrats over allegations of irregularities in a computer leasing scheme.

Mr Newin had earlier been angered by the allegations, which targeted members of his party, and had questioned why the Democrats seemed to be trying to expedite the inquiry into the purchase.

Mr Newin’s announcement came after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the coalition party should leave the government if it no longer wanted to be a part of it, a Bhumjaithai source said.

“I don’t want to remove anyone. But if they feel like parting company, they should tell me,” Mr Abhisit said.

Bhumjaithai had not contacted him formally to say it was unhappy being a part of the coalition, he said, although he had heard through the media that its members were disgruntled.

Mr Newin was reportedly upset that the Department of Special Investigation had implicated Chavarat Charnvirakul, Bhumjaithai’s official leader and the interior minister, in alleged irregularities related to the 3.49 billion baht scheme to lease computers for the Provincial Administration Department.

The DSI is a Justice Ministry department overseen by the Democrat minister, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga.

Mr Newin earlier aired his displeasure in a telephone conversation with Democrat secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban.

He told Mr Suthep that Bhumjaithai might consider withdrawing from the government, a coalition party source said.

Still, key figures from the two parties yesterday were in talks to mend the broadening rift.

The DSI has found links between Mr Chavarat and his close aides, Thani Samartkij and Saksayam Chidchob, Mr Newin’s younger brother, and alleged irregularities in the computer leasing scheme.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission will decide whether to take up the case for further action.

Mr Newin was reported to be under the impression that the DSI was pushing ahead with the case with unusual haste.

Mr Abhisit yesterday denied his Democrat Party was bent on persecuting anyone.

He said it was Mr Chavarat who proposed the holding of an inquiry to look into the computer case. The Office of the Auditor-General joined the investigation with the cabinet’s approval.

Mr Chavarat must now decide if he will go ahead and lease the computers.

Mr Abhisit said he was not offended by reports that Bhumjaithai was finding faults in state projects the ruling party had undertaken.