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BANGKOK, Jan 7 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today called on nationalist groups to refrain from politicising the Thai-Cambodian dispute on the Phra Viharn (Preah Vihear) temple, currently pending a ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
She stood firm that the government will defend Thailand’s sovereignty and said that her close relationship with Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen is less important than the national interest.
“Please demonstrate [against the Phra Viharn conflict] in a peaceful manner and don’t politicise it to put a pressure on the government,” she warned.
She said her friendship with the Cambodian leader is helpful in talks on certain international relationship issues but it is not more important than the national interest.
Deputy Prime Minister/Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana, a legal expert, has been assigned to handle the case with Surapong Tovichakchaikul, deputy premier and foreign minister, she said.
Though each country must protect its national interest, Thailand will try its best through diplomatic channels to seek a peaceful resolution to avoid tension along the Thai-Cambodian border, she added, side-stepping a reporter’s question on Mr Surapong’s recent statement that Ms Yingluck had brought up the issue during her talks with Premier Hun Sen who insisted on pursuing the case in the ICJ.
Ms Yingluck said the foreign ministry is obliged to set up a spokespersons’ team to specially address the case to the Thai public without having to seek cabinet approval.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha gave reassurances of Thai military readiness to protect Thai territory along the border, adding that he believed Cambodian reinforcements on the border were routine defence procedures, not a challenge to Thailand.
“Don’t relate the issue with politics. I won’t say which side has an advantage. The army is keeping a close watch on the border to prevent conflicts which can erupt anytime,” he said.
He was apparently referring to moves by several civic groups protesting the ICJ action on the dispute.
At least two major groups – the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the United Front of Thai Nationalists and Saviours of Thai Territory – have announced their movements and protests against the government on its handling of the controversy.
A hearing with Thailand and Cambodia on the Phra Viharn temple dispute is scheduled at the Court in April and the ruling will possibly be announced in October. (MCOT online news)

Govt vows to find way in charter bid

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 26 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Change by sections likely if vote falls short

The government will not give up on pushing through an amendment of the constitution even if it fails to gather enough support via a referendum.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Tuesday that even if the voter turnout for a referendum on the charter amendment fails to reach the required total, the government will still be able to amend the constitution section by section.

In order for the referendum’s outcome to be valid at least half of all eligible voters _ or about 24 million people _ must take part in it.

The charter amendment, a key part of Pheu Thai’s platform during its election campaign, has been put on hold after the Constitution Court recommended the government hold a referendum or amend it section by section instead of setting up a charter rewrite assembly.

Ms Yingluck said the government will not have failed to follow through on its election promise if the voter turnout fails to reach the required total, as the government had not intended to be forced into holding a referendum. The government is instead merely following the court’s recommendations, she said.

Ms Yingluck said Pheu Thai Party members have different ideas on how to go about amending the charter, but this does not mean they are in conflict.

The red shirts want the government to proceed with the third reading of the charter rewrite bill to start the charter rewriting process right away.

Pheu Thai backs a referendum to find out if the public agrees with a plan to rewrite the charter in its entirety before going through with the third reading, whereas Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung opposes a referendum and calls for the charter to be amended section by section.

They still need to discuss the issue further to resolve their differences, Ms Yingluck said, adding she discussed the constitutional amendment issue with Mr Chalerm.

Ms Yingluck said the government wants the public to take part in the charter change process so that the new charter is more democratic. The specifics of the questions that will be asked in the referendum are still unclear.

Interior Minister and Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan said public hearings on the charter amendment can begin after New Year, while a referendum will require careful study and preparations.

He said the party will organise public hearings before deciding if it will choose to hold a referendum or proceed with the third-reading vote on a bill to amend Section 291 of the constitution, which is pending consideration by parliament.

Deputy Commerce Minister and red shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar yesterday brushed aside reports of a fracture between the red shirts and the ruling Pheu Thai Party over a public referendum on the charter amendment.

Mr Nattawut said the red shirt movement and Pheu Thai share a common stance against the current 2007 constitution, which was the result of the 2006 coup.

However, there are still differing opinions on how to amend the charter, Mr Nattawut said, adding it is time for all sides to talk through their differences to reach a common position.

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) chairwoman Tida Tawornseth said Tuesday the group will continue to push for a third-reading vote on the charter amendment bill.

She said a referendum on the charter amendment would violate Section 291 of the constitution. The section does not authorise holding any referendum on charter change, she said.

Ms Tida also said Section 165 of the constitution stipulates that a referendum cannot be held on issues which run counter to the charter itself.

“Why should the government take a risk before the [third-reading] vote?” she said.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said after a meeting on the charter amendment yesterday that Mr Chalerm had proposed a plan to amend the charter section by section.

Under the proposal, the section relating to the monarchy will be left untouched.

Section 309, which legalised the actions of the military coup-makers who overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, will also not be altered.

Mr Prompong said the working panel looking into the benefits of a referendum will present its conclusions on the issue at a seminar at Khao Yai in Nakhon Ratchasima on Jan 6-7.

‘Lackey’ PM risks exile

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 24 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Thaksin hold will break Yingluck, says Suthep

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be driven out of the country unless she is able to shake off her brother Thaksin’s influence, Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban said Sunday.

The former Democrat secretary-general said Ms Yingluck would end up sharing her brother’s fate if she carried on acting as his lackey.

However, she still has a chance to keep the public’s confidence if she learns to exercise her own leadership instead, he said.

“If she continues to follow Thaksin’s orders and protects his and their family’s interests, she will face a public backlash and won’t be able to stay in the country,” Mr Suthep said.

Mr Suthep said the Democrat Party has been working hard outside parliament to oppose Thaksin, whom he says has been running the show from overseas.

The Democrats’ nationwide campaign to “tell the truth” about the government’s hidden agenda and its populist policies has begun to bear fruit, he said.

The public, especially rice farmers, rubber planters and oil palm growers, are becoming increasingly aware of how disastrous Thaksin-style populism can be, Mr Suthep said.

He said he hopes the public will grow wise to the agendas of Thaksin and the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

Mr Suthep said Thaksin is unlikely to stop until he reclaims his seized assets and is able to return home without having to serve the two-year jail term handed to him in 2008 for abuse of power.

Mr Suthep said the criminal proceedings filed against himself and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva in connection with the crackdown on the 2010 red-shirt protests were part of a calculated move by the government.

At the time, Mr Suthep was deputy prime minister and director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, in charge of the red-shirt protest crackdown, while Mr Abhisit was prime minister.

Mr Suthep said the criminal prosecution is an attempt to pressure him and Mr Abhisit to join the government’s push for the charter amendment and national reconciliation bills aimed at whitewashing Thaksin.

Both the charter amendment bill and the national reconciliation bills are pending parliament scrutiny.

Mr Suthep and Mr Abhisit have been charged with murder by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in connection with the death of a taxi driver from Yasothon.

The charge follows the Criminal Court’s ruling that the taxi driver was killed by bullets fired by soldiers taking part in military operations to disperse red shirts in 2010.

The DSI is considering pressing hundreds of additional charges, including attempted murder and physical assault, in connection with the 2010 political violence as about 2,000 people were injured in the military operations.

The Democrat MP said he is disturbed the government and red shirts have accused state authorities of murder.

Mr Suthep said the soldiers deployed in the operations acted in line with the government’s instructions to restore peace and order. Several of them were also killed and hundreds were injured, he said.

Mr Suthep also called on the government, especially Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and the DSI, to stop making comments deemed offensive to the troops.

He said a group of 30 lawyers led by Khanueng Ruecha have volunteered to provide legal assistance to military officers who may face charges.

“Those soldiers received little help, while the government paid compensation to the red shirts. It is demoralising,” Mr Suthep said.

The Democrat MP insisted the murder charge and several other possible charges are politically motivated and intended to hold him and others hostage.

The government is trying to set conditions forcing the opposition and the public to accept the wholesale charter amendment and national reconciliation law, which Mr Suthep termed an “amnesty law” for Thaksin.

“They think that if everyone faces a charge, we will go for an amnesty. But I can tell you that they are wrong. We will fight to protect the rule of law and we will not flee,” he said.

DHAKA, Dec 22 —  Thailand and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers held bilateral talks and have agreed to expand various forms of cooperation to mark 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived in Dhaka on Friday for a two-day visit to boost bilateral trade, investment and cooperation in prospective areas of mutual interests between Thailand and Bangladesh.

Accompanying her is a delegation of some 100 people, at least a third of them members of the business community.

Ms Yingluck on Saturday held “Four-Eye’ talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed before both sides had full plenary session at the Bangladeshi’s Prime Minister Office.

Both leaders exchanged congratulations that the two countries have marked the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic ties.

Bilateral trade between Thailand and Bangladesh was worth US$1.2 billion in 2011, a 38 per cent increase from the year earlier.

Ms Yingluck said Thailand wanted to double its two-way trade — export and import — with Bangladesh by 2015 in an effort to boost commerce and investment.

She said there was great potential for further expansion of economic partnership between the two countries. The two nations needed closer cooperation between governments and more importantly between the private sectors.

Ms Yingluck and Sheikh Hasina have agreed to reactivate the existing Thai-Bangladesh Joint Trade Committee (JTC) to foster trade and investment, while the Thai premier has proposed Bangladesh consider Thailand as a gateway to ASEAN while Bangladesh would be a gateway for Thailand to South Asia.

During the talks, Dhaka has expressed interest to buy more rice from Thailand as proposed by Bangkok. The two countries have earlier signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which Bangladesh would buy one million tons of rice from Thailand annually between 2011-2013 and today they agreed to extend the MoU for another three years.

As for connectivity, Ms Yingluck has proposed Thailand and Bangladesh promote both land and sea routes, especially sea linkage through Myanmar-Chittagong, Dawei and Ranong.

She said this route will help boost both economies, reducing transportation costs and saving time.

During Ms Yingluck’s visit, Thailand and Bangladesh signed two MoUs to strengthen their bilateral relationship, which were witnessed by Ms Yingluck and Sheikh Hasina.

The first MoU was to foster regular meetings at the level of foreign secretaries, and the other one to increase cooperation in the field of agriculture between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni signed the agreement with Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

The MoU on agricultural cooperation was signed by Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Monzur Hossain and Thailand’s Permanent Secretary on Agriculture Chavalit Chookajorn.

The second agreement would encourage institutional cooperation among private companies for the development and expansion of agriculture in the two nations.

Earlier in the day, Ms Yingluck paid tributes to the martyrs of the nation’s 1971 War of Independence at the National Memorial in Savar.

The Thai premier was given a red-carpet reception on Friday evening as she reached Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina received her at the VVIP terminal of the airport. An impressive contingent of the Bangladesh Army presented her the Guard of Honour. (MCOT online news)