Tuesday, September 19, 2017
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AUDITOR-GENERAL Pisit Leelawachiropas has threatened to release the names of local administrative officials who are organising trips to Bangkok in support of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

The threat emerged yesterday as Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai announced that he believed people would “give us [Pheu Thai] a chance to always stand by them”. 

Yingluck, the former leader of Pheu Thai, is fighting charges of negligence related to her government’s rice-pledging scheme, which allegedly caused massive financial damages to the country, at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions. 

When she showed up to deliver her closing statements in the case on August 1, more than 1,000 people attended to express moral support for her. 

On August 25, the court is scheduled to deliver a verdict in the case. 

“There are reports that some local administrative body officials have planned trips under the pretext of other missions. Local government officials have told us that there are plans to bring participants to the court too,” Pisit said yesterday. “Such actions happened before on August 1.” He added that his office was investigating the reports and would consider releasing the names of those involved. 

Surasarn Pasuk, a former MP affiliated with the Pheu Thai Party, urged Pisit to disclose the names, adding that otherwise society would be confused by the claim. 

“In my opinion, local administrative bodies have been very careful during the past few years under close scrutiny. I don’t think they will dare using the state budget for such purposes,” he said. 

Thida Thavornseth, a leader of the red-shirt umbrella group United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, said red-shirt supporters were being suppressed and blocked from travelling to the court to show support for Yingluck on August 25, with most modes of transport having been made unavailable by the government. 

People who wished to show up at the court would have to take public buses, she said. 

Government suppression had caused difficulties for people and as a result angered them, she said, adding that the current situation was even worse than during the era of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, whose military-led government in the 1950s and 1960s was notoriously repressive.

In response to Thida’s remarks, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the government did not intend to prevent people from showing their support for Yingluck, but needed to ensure peace and order. The NCPO had to prevent any mobilisation related to the event from escalating into a big political movement, he added.

Phutham said his party would respect the court’s ruling, regardless of the outcome, while insisting that the rice-pledging scheme had been conducted honestly and cautiously in line with the country’s administrative plan. 

“If our dedication to contribute to the well-being of the majority will hurt us, then we still believe that the people will understand, protect us and give us a chance to always stand by them,” said Phumtham.

The verdict in the rice-pledging scheme is seen as having a profound impact on the fate of Yingluck as well as Pheu Thai Party. 

Phumtham said Pheu Thai believed that national reconciliation could not be achieved unless there was justice in society.

It was the responsibility of the leadership, especially the government, to set an example in ensuring justice equally for everyone, he said.

“Pheu Thai Party has demonstrated our standpoint that unity can happen if the process towards creating it is not merely a ritual based on image, but a sincere effort towards facilitating fairness and equality for everyone,” he said. “With this, true unity can happen and it will be an important way to take our country out of crisis.”

The party secretary-general also denied that Pheu Thai was discussing who would lead the party in the next election, adding that the party was a political institution that had rules and regulations to follow. 

Determining the party leader must be done through an internal democratic process with the participation of party members, he said. However, due to the NCPO’s ban on political activities, it was impossible for a meeting to be held to make such a decision, he added. It was too early to determine whether the next leader would come from the Shinawatra family, he added.

As the day of the verdict approaches, the NCPO has been stepping up security measures and warning against organised mobilisation of Yingluck supporters as well as calling on people to stay home and not turn up at the court to support Yingluck.

Authorities have also ordered the temporary shutdown of a red-shirt TV station, citing one programme’s content as allegedly breaking the law. 

The move ahead of Yingluck’s verdict has been widely seen as an attempt to restrain Pheu Thai supporters from demonstrating their power. The party last week issued a statement calling for the NCPO to end violations of rights and freedoms of ordinary people and the media.

Phumtham said yesterday that all of the public’s basic rights under the Constitution must be respected by the government. 

PM visits Roi Et ‘as a servant, not a boss’

Posted by pakin On August - 25 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday visited the Northeastern province of Roi Et amid speculation his trip was an effort to gain favour in a region that had overwhelmingly rejected the charter draft in the August 7 referendum.

Though Prayut said he planned to visit all provinces regardless of how they had voted in the referendum, he publicly expressed his empathy for the province and the region known as Isaan, and tried to convince them that he had done his best as premier.

“I give importance to Roi Et and the Isaan region the most, no matter whether [Isaan voters] accepted or rejected [the charter draft] referendum,” said Prayut.

“I wholeheartedly trust that the people of Roi Et actually gave me support despite the results. I am never angry about that, and my visit today is as your servant, not a boss, as I’m a military officer serving the people and the country.

“I have not come to make you love me but to bring love to you. We have to work with together for a little while and I want you to have hopes and see the future.”

Prayut urged them to embrace the referendum as a starting point for democracy. He asked them not to be concerned about who would become the next prime minister, and said they should consider the performance of candidates rather than listen to what other people said.

“I wonder whether he or she would perform as much as I do,” he said.

Roi Et saw the region’s second highest percentage of “No” votes against the charter, and the highest against the additional question, 64 and 67.8 per cent respectively. Political observers believe the province’s referendum results were Prayut‘s motivation to visit the province.

During his one-day trip, Prayut presided over a meeting held at Roi Et Rajaphat University to follow up on the implementation of the policies involving local government agencies.

“Don’t be worried that I will cling to power. I have exercised my power to steer the nation forward, never for a second did I deploy it to garner popularity. Though [Roi Et people] don’t like me, I have already allocated more than a billion [baht] of the budget to projects proposed by the province.

“Please tell those who have not come here today that I have never hated them. But, it is because they don’t understand [the premier] and receive distorted information,” he said.

Before the meeting, he told university lecturers and students that true democracy is about co-existence of different opinions without using “guns” and violence. He also asked students to understand that he could not release those student activists, the junta dissenters who were charged and detained following the violation of laws and regulations.

Prayut also urged them to look forward and not get involved in conflicts. “Please be picky and choose what to listen to. Do not listen too much to matters of conflict and nonsense stuff.”

Prayut asked the people to believe and listen to him while the country is dealing with conflicts and said he is the one to steadily push the country forward.

The government delegation on the trip included Deputy PM General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda and Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister General Chatchai Sarikalya.

At the meeting, Prayut also gave the green light to an economic plan for the area and urged local agencies to start implementing projects related to government policies within the 2017 fiscal year.

According to provincial governor Anusorn Kaewkangwan, the plan focuses on producing value-added jasmine rice grown in Thung Kula Rong Hai, promoting the province’s tourism, and developing Roi Et to be the transportation and investment centre in the central Isaan region.

Democrat Party politician Phumsan Seniwong na Ayutthaya said he appreciated Prayut‘s visit and said the area is still struggling with poverty and has the country’s widest gap between the well-off and the poor.

But Pheu Thai Party key figure Surapong Towichakchaikul decried the trip. He said Prayut should stay in the area overnight to see the real problems in the area. Prayut flew back to Bangkok in the evening.

PM says ‘sorry’ for latest flare-up at reporters

Posted by pakin On February - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave an cold shoulder to a troop of reporters at Government House as he arrived for a meeting yesterday.

Before attending the annual internal security meeting in the morning, he encountered the reporters, who greeted him a “wai” of respect. Prayut returned the gesture, but remained silent and stony-faced before walking past them to the meeting room.

The Premier later told the meeting that people may or may not understand his recent bouts of anger, but he had been trying his best to curb his emotional expressions.

“Soldiers are hot tempered, but once addressed, we are always ready to improve [our responses],” he said.

PM Prayut has lost his temper in public while giving press interviews on a number of occasions, and last Tuesday’s outburst exceeded the level of his previous anger.

He later apologised for losing his temper and scolding journalists through his spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, who said the premier was under pressure as he had been left to “walk alone”.

“The prime minister asked me to convey to media and [others] that he regretted his outburst on Tuesday,” Sansern said. He was also worried [about public sentiment], but we should understand that he is working under pressure due to high expectations of the people.”

One of the prime minister’s New Year resolutions was to try to be a “good guy” – at least in the eyes of the mass media – by avoiding hot-tempered exchanges with critical reporters.

That resolution appeared to have been broken when the PM – described by reporters as “furious” – was asked about the draft charter and the election road map at Tuesday’s press briefing.

PM erupts after questions about ‘cruel’ charter

Posted by pakin On February - 3 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

A month after promising to become a ‘good guy’, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday reacted furiously when asked by media about the highly-discussed charter draft and his administration.

“Tell me how this draft is cruel,” the premier said at his weekly press briefing when asked of his thoughts of comments by the Constitution Drafting Commission chairman Meechai Ruchupan, who said that the ’more cruel version of charter’ would be active if this draft is voted down in a national referendum.

“They talk about the new authority of the Constitution Court. They say it will be overwhelming. But tell me, who else will end all the crises?” Prayut continued. “The Court could do nothing prior to May 22 [2014], and I had to come to put an end to it. Did I ever want to?” he exclaimed.

The premier’s mood in the morning was already soured by the media questions in regard to the water management plan, but PM Prayut stopped short to say anything, when asked what set him off. “Stupid. Try finding an answer yourself (rather than asking everything). Aren’t you all already smart?” Read the news. I do, and that’s why I know things,” he uttered in a verbal tirade.

A source close to the premier said that Prayut was irritated by news on the charter draft and election, as well as reshuffle of permanent civil servants, especially military officers.

On the same day, Government Spokesperson Maj General Sansern Kaewkamnerd asked media to lift their working standards and reform themselves.

They should also not let people with hidden agendas manipulate them to spread distorted information, that will only destroy the Kingdom’s images, Sansern said.

The media should also be more careful with reporting, he said.

“For instance, discussions on the charter draft via the media were shallow, without attempts to understand that it is designed to prevent [political] conflicts,” he said.

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