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PM misses Prem meeting

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 12 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Top brass pay their respects to Privy Council chief for Songkran without Yingluck attending this year

Caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was absent yesterday from a gathering to pay their respects to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, leaving only commanders of the Armed Forces with him.

Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn led Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Navy Commander Admiral Narong Pipatanasai and National Police Chief Adul Saengsingkaew to pay their respects to Prem as per the New Year tradition at Songkran.

Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha was also present at the event, as president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand.

Prem thanked the commanders for their gestures although the former commander retired from the Army more than three decades ago.

“It is good to see all three of the Armed Forces’ commanders and police chief come to me every year. This shows we all have friendship and I have the Armed Forces as good friends,” he said. “I feel comfortable to see the unity among us.

“If we unite, the country will be secure. The Armed Forces would have power over those who have bad plans to hurt our nation,” Prem said.

“As His Majesty the King said many times, we have to perform our duty with honour. We also have to look at our people to have them perform their duties honestly. “General Tanasak plus the military and police commanders have many hard tasks to achieve these days. If we unite and do our jobs and have our men to do their jobs as well, people can rely on us, so that people will love, respect and trust the military and police,” Prem said.

Meeting with the top adviser to His Majesty the King is interpreted as a political signal to show that General Prem retains high influence over the Armed Forces. Prem’s support for any groups would be significant for political developments in the Kingdom.

Good ties

At an Army event on Thursday, Prem said he would not be able to mediate negotiations between Yingluck and Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee. Prem said the two sides would not listen to him.

Usually the defence minister leads the commanders to pay respect to Prem to show that the government has good ties to him. Yingluck currently holds the Defence portfolio.

She did not respond when she was asked on Thursday if she would lead commanders to see Prem at Songkran. The caretaker prime minister faces many political and legal challenges because of the prolonged anti-government protests concentrated in Bangkok and will spend her time over the holiday break quietly in Chiang Mai, her home province. She may not appear to celebrate the festival in public as usual this year, a source said.

Defence Ministry permanent secretary Nipat Thonglek did not attend the commanders’ gathering at Prem’s residence yesterday.

A military source said Supreme Commander Tanasak had asked the Defence Ministry if Yingluck would lead the commanders to see Prem, but she made no clear instruction this year. Tanasak later decided to lead the commanders to see Prem on his own, the source said.

Meeting with Prem requires a formal letter for an appointment in advance, of at least three days up to a week, the source said.

However, the Privy Council chief did not say anything about the absence of the prime minister, according to the source close to the meeting yesterday, who suggested the gathering had no political agenda.

In 2012, Yingluck visited Prem on the occasion of Songkran. Last year Prem did not open his home for such greetings.

During the New Year, Yingluck led the military top brass to greet Prem for that occasion. Earlier, in August, Yingluckgreeted Prem on his 94th birthday.

Separately, at the Royal Thai Army headquarters, Prayuth said he hoped the political situation would get better after the traditional Songkran events, which let people make merit and pay respect to their seniors. But he said all sides of society should join together to help restore peace and order for the country.

Nevertheless, he vowed not to allow violence, which some expect amid rising political tension after Songkran.

BANGKOK, April 8 — Thailand’s caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today expressed worry over the situation in the southern provinces after bomb attacks at eight locations in Yala on two consecutive days, killing one person and wounding 30 others.
Ms Yingluck, as caretaker defence minister, said she has instructed the armed forces chiefs to seek measures to protect the general public as well as economic zones.
She told the agencies concerned to urgently help those who were affected by the Yala bombings.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok was assigned to visit the southern provinces soon to inspect the situation.
Meanwhile, caretaker Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha sad he would visit Yala soon to follow up the situation.
Gen Yuthasak said that he believed the attacks by insurgent groups in Yala were aimed to challenge the army after the reshuffle of commanders.
In the mid-year army reshuffle, Lt-Gen Walit  Rojanapakdi, commander of the 1st Army Corp, was appointed 4th Army Region commander, replacing Lt-Gen Sakol Chuentrakul.
National Security Council Secretary General Paradorn Pattanatabut said the insurgents normally intensified their attacks during April as a symbolic violent attack calling attention to the anniversary of the Krue Se mosque incident.
Lt Gen Paradorn said the change of 4th Army Region commander may have led the insurgents to test the newly appointed chief and test the government policy as well.
The suspended peace talks may be a factor, he added, saying  that the unstable political situation has affected attempts to solve the problems in the southern provinces, leading to changes in policy and budget.  (MCOT online news)

Surapong fears violence if court rules against PM

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Yingluck insists Thawil’s transfer within ‘legal process’; Pheu Thai pessimistic on Constitutional Court verdict

Red-shirt rallies could turn violent if the Constitutional Court rules against caretaker Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra in relation to the transfer of the National Security Council (NSC) chief, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul warned yesterday.

However, in her first public statement on the case, Yingluck maintained yesterday that the 2011 transfer of NSC secretary-general Thawil Pliensri to become her adviser was “in line with the legal process”. She was reacting after the court agreed on Wednesday to consider the petition by a group of senators who accused her of conflict of interest in getting Thawil transferred.

Yingluck said yesterday that she expected the court to treat her case with the same standard applied to other politicians.

Meanwhile, political observers say the case would deliver a fatal blow to the premier and her caretaker government because if she is found guilty of violating the Constitution, she could lose her post automatically and her Cabinet could also be removed.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled last month that Thawil’s transfer was illegal.

“A political vacuum like this is not healthy and chaos will most surely follow. I’m not trying to instigate violence but I see the pressure people are under, and most Thais are hot-tempered. Chaos can break out at any time. I am not threatening the court, I’m just telling the truth,” he said.

Surapong was apparently referring to the “vacuum” that might be created if Yingluck is disqualified as premier, as she cannot be replaced by a member of Parliament because the House of Representatives has been dissolved.

“We should be aware there could be chaos in the future. We have already seen this. Whatever the PDRC does, the UDD may do that too. A non-elected prime minister may be appointed to run the country but the UDD could also besiege Government Complex,” Surapong said. He was referring to the anti- and pro-government groups, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship respectively.

PM ‘won’t be spared’

Politicians from the ruling Pheu Thai Party also said yesterday that the Constitutional Court “would not spare” Yingluckin this case.

Surasit Jiamvichak, an ex-Pheu Thai MP, said it looked like the judiciary was colluding to create trouble for the prime minister as part of an effort to bring down the government.

Korkaew Pikulthong, a former Pheu Thai MP and red-shirt leader, said he expected the court to rule against Yingluck, adding that moves were being made to “distort the law”.

He warned that if this was really happening, then the country would be in chaos, adding that he did not think the red shirts would accept a negative court verdict.

Another controversial issue is whether the entire caretaker Cabinet would have to go if Yingluck is disqualified.

Pheu Thai Party’s key members insist that Yingluck was within her rights when she transferred Thawil and if she is disqualified as the anti-government group wishes, then it would result in a political vacuum as a non-elected premier is not possible under the Constitution. However, caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung pointed out that the deputy premier could take over if Yingluck was disqualified.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said accepting the petition did not necessarily mean the court would disqualify Yingluck. He explained that the court would have to first consider whether Yingluck had violated the Constitution by interfering in the transfer and if the transfer was aimed at benefiting her and her group.

In a related development, the pro-government People’s Radios for Democracy has announced that it will hold a rally across Bangkok and surrounding provinces today to “create a good public understanding” about the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). The red-shirt group has tried to disrupt the work of the NACC, which is investigating a case against the premier.

Caretaker PM worried by NACC’s rice scheme case

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 3 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

BANGKOK, April 3 – Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today expressed concern over the limited period given to her to defend herself against anti-graft agency charges of dereliction of duty in her supervision of the rice pledging scheme.

Ms Yingluck raised her concerns after giving her verbal defence before the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Monday. She has asked the agency to question 11 more witnesses, but the NACC allowed only three of them to testify before Songkran begins on April 12.

With a limited timeframe and a reduced number of witness, Ms Yingluck said she is worried by the matter but will use existing mechanisms to defend herself to the utmost.

She insisted that the allegations against her are untrue.

Following the Constitutional Court’s decision to consider a petition against her over alleged unconstitutional transfer of National Security Council (NSC) chief Thawil Pliensri to an inactive post, Ms Yingluck expressed hope that the court will apply the so-called one standard practice to rule the case.

Ms Yingluck pledged that she followed all procedures in transferring Mr Thawil.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled last month that the removal of Mr Thawil from his previous NSC post was unlawful and ordered to reinstate Mr Thawil in 45 days. A group of 28 senators led by Paiboon Nititawan later petitioned the Constitution Court to rule on the status of Ms Yingluck and whether she has breached the constitution in the case. (MCOT online news)