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PT targets Abhisit govt’s rice scheme

Posted by Rattana_S On June - 10 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The ruling Pheu Thai Party on Monday asked the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to investigate possible irregularities in the former Democrat-led government’s rice price guarantee scheme.

The petition, and accompanying evidence, was filed with DSI chief Tarit Pengdith by party spokesman Prompong Nopparit.

Mr Prompong alleged the previous government’s rice price guarantee scheme sustained a loss of 130 billion baht, and irregularities were found in the registration process to benefit certain groups of people who claimed to be farmers.

He denied Pheu Thai wanted the DSI to investigate the rice price guarantee scheme to divert public attention  from its own highly controversial rice-pledging scheme.

This was a perfectly normal procedure to check on the past government’s performance, Mr Prompong claimed.

He alleged many other projects under the Democrat-led government were also tainted by corruption, particularly the unfinished construction of 396 new police stations throughout the country.

Yuranunt firms as poll frontrunner

Posted by Rattana_S On May - 14 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Karun’s wife, Sudarat exit as Pheu Thai picks

Pheu Thai Party list-MP Yuranunt Pamornmontri has emerged as the party’s frontrunner to contest the June 16 by-election in Don Muang district, a party source says.

The source said a group of Pheu Thai MPs from eastern Bangkok had agreed to nominate Mr Yuranunt. The party will meet today to decide on a candidate.

The June 16 election is being held after the Supreme Court’s Election Cases Division banned incumbent Karun Hosakul from politics for five years after finding him guilty of defaming Tankhun Jitt-itsara of the Democrat Party during the 2011 general election campaign.

nomination comes after other potential candidates including core party member Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, and Pimchana Hosakul, who is a Bangkok city councillor for Don Muang district and the wife of Mr Karun, refused to run in the by-election.

Airports of Thailand (AoT) chairman Sita Divari is seen as another possibility for the nomination, though he seems reluctant to put his name forward.

The source said the timeframe for the by-election is short and the party has to pick someone well-known among voters. Mr Yuranunt has all the requirements, the source said.

Mr Yuranunt ran unsuccessfully in the 2009 Bangkok governor election but won more than 600,000 votes.

That tally shows he is well recognised by Bangkok residents, the source said.

Mr Yuranunt would have to resign as a party list-MP to run in the poll.

However, Pheu Thai would keep its present numbers in the House as fellow party list member Somkiat Soralumpa would be moved up the party list to replace him.

Sqn Ldr Sita has just become AoT chairman and will probably not give up that post to stand in the by-election, the source added. The source said the contest has been narrowed down to Mr Yuranunt and Sqn Ldr Sita as the pair are Khunying Sudarat’s close associates.

Pavena Hongsakula, who has worked with Pheu Thai and previously served as an MP in Don Muang under the Prachakorn Thai Party, is not among the potential candidates this time, the source said.

Sqn Ldr Sita said Monday he had just been appointed AoT chairman and if the party wanted him to run in the by-election, it should have discussed the matter in advance.

Mr Karun said he did not want to encourage his wife to run in the by-election because she still has two years remaining in her term as a city councillor.

He said it would be improper for her to quit the post which would prompt another by-election to fill her seat.

The Election Commission is also preparing to petition the Civil Court to order Mr Karun to pay for the cost of holding the by-election, estimated at 10 million baht.

Speaking to reporters at her home in Soi Lat Plakhao 60 yesterday, Khunying Sudarat said she would not run for the nomination.

She admitted, however, that senior Pheu Thai figures approached her to stand as the party’s candidate.

She said she turned down the request because she wanted to concentrate on her project to renovate Lord Buddha’s birthplace in southern Nepal.

She said she believed the party would decide on a candidate today.

Asked about the videotaped verbal confrontation between Mr Tankhun and Mr Karun which went viral on YouTube over the weekend, Khunying Sudarat said she did not expect it would lead to violence in the by-election.

In her 21 years in politics she had never seen any election violence in Bangkok, she added.

She also said she would not consider taking up a cabinet post if there was a reshuffle of portfolios.

The Democrat Party yesterday resolved to field Mr Tankhun as its candidate in the by-election, party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said after meeting the party’s executive committee.

Deputy Democrat leader Korn Chatikavanij said Mr Tankhun has what it takes to run in the by-election.

He took care of people in Don Muang during the flooding in 2011 and has continued to work hard for the public even though he was not serving as an MP, Mr Korn said.

Govt ‘must push agenda’

Posted by Rattana_S On May - 9 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Pheu Thai can’t bow to opposition any longer on amnesty, charter change, infrastructure: party chief

With only two years left on its electoral mandate, delay is not an option for the ruling Pheu Thai Party, which badly needs to push ahead with its planned mega-projects, charter amendment and amnesty bill, party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai told reporters on Tuesday.

The government must deliver the policies it promised before the election, despite the many anti-government forces besieging the gates of Government House who are looking to bring the administration down, Phumtham said.

A group of 312 MPs and senators who support constitutional amendment earlier announced their intention to defy the Constitutional Court, which has accepted requests to review the constitutionality of proposed charter-change legislation.

The People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) group is currently staging a protest at Government House calling on the government to keep its promises to help farmers and the poor. Another group, calling itself the Thai Patriots and Territory Protection Front, is protesting against the government’s positions on constitutional amendment and the Preah Vihear dispute with Cambodia.

The latter group has vowed to continue its protest until Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government leaves office.

“Earlier, when faced with strong opposition, as if we had run into a wall, we always sought other ways. But although we have chosen alternative ways, we are still blocked,” Phumtham said.

“Our party has been pushed to the brink of a ravine. We launched an election campaign saying that we would rewrite the entire charter, but [charter-change] opponents submitted a petition against it and the Constitutional Court ruled that we have to amend the charter one article at a time.

“But when we tried to amend particular articles, the same group submitted another petition to the Constitutional Court, which accepted it by a vote of 3-2. The party did not know how to react because we were already acting on the court’s advice, but we still faced obstacles. As a result, we resolved not to accept the court’s authority and we had to inform the public that the Constitutional Court is interfering in the work of the legislative branch,” Phumtham said.

Pheu Thai has so far failed to keep its pre-poll promises because of this strong opposition, so the party has no choice but to rush to implement the policies, he said.

The Pheu Thai-led government will have to move quickly to implement the comprehensive flood-control projects and develop the railway transport system, or Thailand will be left far behind by other countries, he warned.

Phumtham said Pheu Thai had no choice but to push quickly for enactment of amnesty and charter-amendment bills because its earlier efforts always faced strong opposition, despite the party seeking alternative options.

The secretary-general said Pheu Thai has launched awareness campaigns to explain to the public the need to enact reconciliation and amnesty bills. The campaigns ask people to consider whether the conflicts that date back to 2005 should be ended once and for all.

Phumtham said the government did not regard those on the other side of the political divide as enemies. He urged the government’s opponents to stop regarding Pheu Thai as their enemy and said he was ready to hold talks with all sides.

He said Pheu Thai’s opponents should be asked why they would not open their minds to talk with Pheu Thai for the sake of the country.

Judges abused authority by agreeing to review charter-change bill, they say

Pheu Thai MPs yesterday threatened to file criminal charges against Constitutional Court judges and seek their impeachment over what they regard as the court’s interference in the legislative branch’s power.

Samart Kaewmeechai, a Pheu Thai MP from Chiang Rai, said the legal team of Pheu Thai was gathering evidence for filing charges against the judges related to their decision to review the charter-amendment bill.

Constitutional Court judges voted 3:2 to accept a petition of Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn to consider whether the proposed amendment to Article 68 of the Constitution would be unconstitutional.

MPs and senators announced Thursday that they would not accept the Constitutional Court’s role in considering Somchai’s petition as they believed the court had no power over the affairs of the legislative branch.

Samart said the judges should be charged with abusing their authority for accepting Somchai’s petition.

He said MPs and senators would also sign their names to initiate an impeachment process against the Constitutional Court judges. The motion would then be sent to the Senate speaker.

Samart added that since MPs and senators had decided to send a formal statement to the Constitutional Court rejecting their authority, they would not have to submit a written explanation to the court within 15 days, as demanded by the court.

He said the parliamentarians decided to seek impeachment of the Constitutional Court judges to preserve the principle of independence between the three branches of power – the executive, the legislative and judicial branches.

Court ‘violated power’

Pheu Thai MP Pichit Chuenban, a legal expert of the party, said the Constitutional Court violated the power of the legislative branch by accepting Somchai’s petition for a judicial review.

Pichit added that Article 291 of the Constitution allowed Parliament to amend some articles of the charter and that the planned amendment to Article 68 would not deprive the people of their rights as charged.

However, a lecturer of law pointed out yesterday that the statement planned by MPs and senators had no legal status and would therefore have no effect on the Constitutional Court.

Kittisak Pokkati, a lecturer of law from Thammasat University, said the Constitutional Court’s decisions did in fact have legal binding on all organisations, including Parliament.

He said if MPs and senators refused to accept the Constitutional Court’s authority, they must instead file a lawsuit against the Constitutional Court judges with a court of justice, to consider whether the judges had abused their authority or not.

The lecturer said if MPs and senators refused to send explanations to the Constitutional Court, the court could proceed with the review without the explanations.

Pimol Thampithakpong, a spokesman of the Constitutional Court, said the law requires those persons who have had complaints lodged against them to submit their defence statements to the court within 15 days, or else the court would assume they did not want to defend themselves.

Parliament President Somsak Kiartsuranont yesterday declined to comment on the MPs and senators’ plans to send a statement to the Constitutional.

“I don’t want to comment on the issue. It needs to be considered by the legal affairs committee of Parliament first,” Somsak said.

Appointed senator, Somjet Boonthanom also filed a petition with the Constitutional Court yesterday against the Article 68-amendment, asking the court to issue an injunction to suspend it.

In another development, the Democrat Party yesterday threatened to seek an impeachment against Somsak for allowing a retroactive 15-day vetting of three charter amendment bills from April 4, even though Parliament only decided the timeframe on Thursday. The three bills were passed in the first reading on April 3.