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PM backs referendum before bill

Posted by arnon_k On December - 12 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Yingluck admits she consulted Thaksin

Prime Minister has expressed support for a referendum on constitutional amendments before pressing ahead with a vote on the third reading of the charter rewrite bill.

Ms Yingluck admitted she had consulted deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, her elder brother, about changing the charter and that he had given her advice on the matter. She did not reveal what advice he gave.

In principle, charter amendment depends on the decision of parliament, not the government, she said.

She said the cabinet Tuesday instructed the Justice and Interior Ministries to find a way to ensure that charter changes were a participatory process involving the public. The two ministries are to submit their ideas to the cabinet as soon as possible.

This process could either be through public forums or by holding a referendum, she said.

Ms Yingluck said the government is ready to support any process involving the public.

She said the government is focused on finding a solution to current political conflicts and restoring harmony, in accordance with His Majesty the King’s birthday speech on Dec 5.

Commenting on the fact that conflict always occurs whenever the issue of charter amendment is raised, Ms Yingluck said the government was more concerned about public understanding.

The government wants the people to participate in the decision-making process, she added.

In a speech to the Asia Society in Hong Kong yesterday, Thaksin said he believed Ms Yingluck would hold a referendum to gauge people’s opinions on constitutional amendments before going ahead with changes.

“The government is ready to accept the results of a referendum,” Thaksin said.

“Before, there was no justice in the Thai political system and I personally believe that reconciliation will happen when the law is enforced in a fair and equal manner.

“Reconciliation is not about me receiving an amnesty so that I can return home. I’m already familiar with staying abroad,” he said.

The former prime minister said there would be many positive developments in Thailand next year and reconciliation would be among them.

Meanwhile, the coalition government’s working committee considering the charter amendment process finalised its report yesterday. The proposal will be handed to all coalition partners so they can decide how to proceed.

Committee chairman and prime minister’s adviser, Pokin Polakul, said parliament has the authority to vote on the bill to amend Section 291 to allow the creation of a drafting assembly to rewrite the 2007 charter.

The committee agreed that since the country is still divided, the government and coalition parties would need to explain to the public why changes are necessary, before a third-reading vote takes place.

Mr Pokin said the bill stipulates that after the drafting assembly finishes its work, a referendum can be held to allow the public to decide.

Mr Pokin said the working committee carefully examined the July 13 Constitution Court ruling which said a complete charter rewrite without a referendum would be unconstitutional.

The court ruled the charter amendment bill be suspended and a public referendum held on rewriting Section 291. It did not specify whether the referendum should take place before the charter changes are drafted or after. However, Mr Pokin said a referendum could be held before the new constitution was drafted, to avoid conflict.

Chusak Sirinil, a Pheu Thai Party legal adviser and working committee member, said the government obviously wants to hold a referendum before going ahead with charter changes as this is the safest option.

Yingluck to visit South security staff

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra plans to visit the deep South on Thursday, said Suranand Vejjajiva, her secretary-general. The exact time and place have yet to be confirmed.

He said the prime minister wanted to follow up on the work of security officers in the region and give them moral support.

However, Ms Yingluck did not want her visit to burden already busy officials in the restive areas.

The move came after several teachers in the deep South were attacked and around 40 insurgents raided a defence volunteers’ outpost in Pattani’s Kapho district on Friday when five assault rifles were stolen.

Pattani Governor Pramool Lamool, who supervises village defence volunteers in the strife-torn province, yesterday ordered all companies of volunteers in 12 districts and their outposts to be extra vigilant around the clock and to send out more teams of plain-clothes volunteers to gather information about the movements of insurgents in their areas.

Mr Pramool has asked all defence volunteer units to closely coordinate with police, soldiers and local officials. The governor also asked security officers to notify defence volunteers in advance if they wanted to inspect volunteers’ outposts to prevent insurgents posing as soldiers from entering.

Pol Maj Gen Ekkaphop Prasitwattanachai, chief of Pattani police, said an initial investigation found that the armed men who raided the outpost on Friday were members of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil insurgent group led by Madaree Tayae.

Police had collected samples of forensic evidence, including DNA and fingerprints, and invited the five volunteers for interrogation.

The identities of some insurgents involved in the raid are known but their names could not be revealed, said Pol Maj Gen Ekkaphop. Some armed men were locals, he added.

He has set up two investigation teams to gather further evidence.

PM will act on ‘useful’ TRC advice

Posted by arnon_k On September - 19 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Report findings trigger fury among red shirts

The prime minister Tuesday pledged to study the Truth for Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report on the 2010 protests, saying the government would adopt its recommendations if they could lead to national reconciliation.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she had ordered Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit to study the findings of the TRC’s investigation and its recommendations thoroughly.

If the TRC’s recommendations are useful and could bring about peace, the government would be pleased to adopt and implement them, she said.

As for the TRC’s recommendation for her elder brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to end his political roles, Ms Yingluck said she believed Thaksin would agree to the proposal if that was deemed “useful” and would lead to national peace.
The TRC on Monday officially announced the results of its two-year investigation into the 2010 demonstrations, blaming both red shirts and the military for the violence that resulted in at least 92 deaths.

Mr Abhisit said he hoped the Yongyuth-led committee, set up late last year, would respect the TRC’s report and its non-partisan intentions.

The Yongyuth-led panel had not strictly followed the TRC’s past recommendations but only picked the ones that suited the government’s agenda, said the opposition leader.

The publication of the TRC report, meanwhile, has sparked furious reactions from key figures in the red shirt and pro-Thaksin camp.

Pheu Thai list MP Khattiya Sawatdiphol, daughter of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawatdiphol who was gunned down near the Lumpini MRT station on May 13, 2010, accused the TRC of basing its probe results on opinions, not facts.

Instead of vaguely linking the “men in black” with her late father, the TRC should have found out who those black-clad attackers actually were, she said.

The TRC said on Monday it had found evidence that the men in black, who used M79 grenades and rifles to attack security forces, had received support from red-shirt security guards linked to Maj Gen Khattiya.

Ms Khattiya said the TRC must prove its claim that Maj Gen Khattiya was seen at the rally on April 10, 2010, the same day the men in black were sighted, because she could confirm that her father was not at the protest that day.

She said she felt very uncomfortable with the TRC’s findings, which shifted the blame to her deceased father who could no longer defend himself.

Jarupan Kuldilok, another Pheu Thai list MP, described the TRC’s investigation results as “the same old lie”.

She said the TRC has not only failed to prove who the men in black were, but also told tales which were based on nothing but its own hypotheses.
The TRC failed miserably in its task and its members must apologise to the public, said Ms Jarupan.

Pheu Thai list MP Weng Tojirakarn, also a red-shirt protest leader, said the TRC’s report was unreliable and had a hidden agenda of justifying the use of force against protesters by the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation and the Abhisit government.

Nicha Thuwatham, wife of Gen Romklao Thuwatham who was killed on April 10, 2010, during the unrest, told the Bangkok Post that it was a good step for Thailand to issue a report that gathered information about the events.

“I appreciate the effort and caution of the TRC in presenting and explaining those events. I hope the report, which is based on facts, will be followed with proper judicial procedures,” she said.

“In fact, I expect the TRC could dig deeper and find out who was or were behind the men in black,” she added.

The TRC report said Gen Romklao was among eight security officers who were killed by men in black.

Aircraft deal cost THAI head his job

Posted by arnon_k On May - 23 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Yingluck denies politics behind Piyasvasti firing

The Transport Ministry says Thai Airways International president Piyasvasti Amranand was sacked because of a disagreement with the board over the multi-billion-baht acquisition of new aircraft for the national flag carrier.
Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan said Mr Piyasvasti failed to see eye-to-eye with the board over the authorisation of the purchase.

Some seven years ago, THAI received cabinet approval to buy 75 new aircraft.

Under the plan, THAI expects to procure half of the fleet by 2018.

The minister said Mr Piyasvasti believed the THAI board and president had the authority to acquire any remaining aircraft after 2018 without seeking cabinet approval.

But the board disagreed and insisted that the programme must be tabled for cabinet approval, making Mr Piyasvasti’s position untenable.

Mr Piyasvasti said he had submitted the aircraft procurement plan to the board for consideration, but it was concerned the purchase of the planes might affect THAI’s financial position negatively.

The board then asked that the plan be sent to a risk management committee chaired by deputy transport permanent secretary Silapachai Jarukasemrat.

The committee resolved that the procurement plan should go ahead as it was established that the national carrier had the ability to cope with the financial risks.

The committee also urged the plan be adjusted and then submitted for cabinet approval, Mr Piyasvasti said, insisting he knew that ultimately it would have to go to cabinet. He said he and the board had agreed to act on the committee’s recommendation for cabinet approval of the plan.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday said there was no political interference in the removal of Mr Piyasvasti.

Ms Yingluck said the decision was made by the THAI board.

The members of the board, who were appointed during the last government, voted unanimously in favour of dismissing Mr Piyasvasti.

“There is no political interference in this issue and the government has no one in mind for the vacant position,” the premier said.

“We should let the THAI board nominate the candidate.”

Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong echoed Ms Yingluck, saying the government was not behind the dismissal of Mr Piyasvasti.

The decision to fire Mr Piyasvasti was at the discretion of the THAI board, Mr Kittiratt said.

However, Democrat Party and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva believed an internal conflict was at play in the dismissal.

It was a shame that a capable person like Mr Piyasvasti had to be fired despite his many positive contributions to the THAI organisation, Mr Abhisit said.

Democrat list-MP Anik Amranand, Mr Piyasvasti’s wife, said that her husband had only ever worked for the good of THAI and his removal from the post must have been politically influenced.The sacking could have resulted from the change in administration when the Pheu Thai-led government rose to power, she said.

Jamsri Sukchoterat, president of the THAI labour union, said it will submit a letter to THAI chairman Ampon Kitti-ampon today to ask him to explain to the airline staff why Mr Piyasvasti was sacked.