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Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday blamed the delaying in overdued payment under rice-pledging scheme on anti-government demonstrations.

She said in a special televised programme that the leaders of protesters have seized the farmers as hostage in their political game to bring down her government.

They resorted to by all means and looked for every loophole to block the caretaker government from repaying the debts to the rice farmers, she said.

“I’m very upset and apologise to all the farmers who suffer from the delaying. The farmers are now in the middle of political game of the protest leaders who did not follow democratic and legal ways. They should have felt sympathised for the farmers who worked hard for the sake of the country,” she said.

In order to alleviate the hardhship of the farmers, Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives agrees to extend a period of debt repayments and increase an amount of credit lines. Farmers who are not customers of the bank can apply for the extension, she said.

BANGKOK, Feb 17 – Anti-government protesters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) today sealed the Government House entrance gates to block caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from entering the compound.

The protesters led by secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, joined the allied group of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) which camped out near Government House following the announcement of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order of its intention to retake the area around Government House this week.

Mr Suthep led his supporters to pour cement over sandbags blocking Gates 1 and 2 of the government seat, without any disruption or prevention from security personnel.

The protest leader said he mobilised the crowds to Government House because CMPO director Chalerm Yubamrung challenged the protesters by announcing that he would open way for Ms Yingluck and the government to return to work there although they do not have legitimacy to remain in power.

Another protest leader, Thaworn Senneam, said he was confident as the CMPO would be unable to retake the five areas now occupied by the protesters, while saying that the government must take responsibility for any violence which occurs during this tense period.

At the PDRC rally site on Chaeng Wattana Road, protest leader Buddhist monk Phra Buddha Issara today is scheduled to negotiate with the secretary-general of King Prachadhipok’s Institute who is seeking its reopening. The monk will also file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Commission for the arrest warrant issuance against him despite having not committed any crime.

Meanwhile, prospective MPs for the ruling Pheu Thai Party in the Northeast met today and announced that they would hold a mass rally Saturday in the northeastern province of Sakhon Nakhon to fight against any attempt of the PDRC to topple democracy.

The group said they will also oppose to a coup and reject all “unconstitutional” conditions to end the crisis such as the formation of an unelected government. (MCOT online news)

Still no clear end-game in sight after poll

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 5 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Low turnout, obstructions hurt govt; PDRC turns to agencies as army stays put

After three months of protest, the anti-government People’s Demo-cratic Reform Committee (PDRC) is still unable to finish its fight and oust the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

So the question lingers: “How will this game end?” A key PDRC leader has said this game is too big for the group alone to win. It needs help from powerful assistants: the military and independent agencies.

In an overview, this “game of power” is a fight between the government and the PDRC. Both are competing to claim legitimacy and that they are only using peaceful means.

The government’s strategy is to depend on the law. Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s decision to dissolve the House on December 9 closed the possibility of her resignation in response to PDRC’s demands, as she claimed the Constitution required a government to stay in charge as caretaker until a new government is formed.

After that, the government clung to power as it pushed for a February 2 election without postponement. It held on, despite the Election Commission (EC), the poll organiser, using both soft and hard requests for postponement, from expressing concern to asking the Constitutional Court to rule whether it could be postponed. The court, in a cautious move, could only determine that such change was possible but did not rule what the government must do.

While the government sees the election as a guarantee of its legitimacy, what we have seen from the election has not been as it had imagined.

Initial reports showed the turnout in areas where the election took place was 45.8 per cent – a drop from 75 per cent in the July 3, 2011 election.

Some people might claim that many voters were unable to vote because they were obstructed. But the figures show that even in areas unblocked by the protesters, such as the North and the Northeast – which are the voting base of the ruling Pheu Thai Party – the turnout also dropped to 51 per cent in the North and 55 per cent in the Northeast – while it was 77 and 72 per cent last time.

It is clear the House of Represent-atives will not be able to convene as fewer than 95 per cent of the MPs were voted in by this election, as required by law. The government will have to remain the caretaker without full mandate for a while yet. It would have to ask for permission before making important moves to solve major problems.

Also, since it has no authority to borrow money to pay farmers in the rice-pledging scheme, it seems the Pheu Thai’s populist policies have begun to backfire.

On PDRC’s side, the protesters have adopted a prolonged strategy in reducing the government’s legitimacy over time and waiting for its hoped-for powerful assistants to complete their work. The PDRC tried to push the military to take its side but received no clear response. Therefore, it is turning to the independent agencies.

The prominent players now are the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Constitutional Court.

The NACC is investigating criminal charges and impeachment against senators and former MPs related to the Constitution amendment as well as rice-pledging scheme cases.

Yingluck is also being investigated as the top supervisor of the scheme. If indicted, the political office holders must be suspended from performing duties.

Meanwhile, the Democrat Party has submitted a party dissolution case with the Constitutional Court against Pheu Thai Party for its government-invoked emergency decree, which could be deemed as having caused advantage and disadvantage for election contestants.

In the past, that might have irritated Pheu Thai, but some key members say solutions have been prepared.

In case Yingluck should be suspended from work, a deputy could be put in charge. Meanwhile, a party dissolution charge is not so frightening to them, as Yingluck and key members of the party are not executive members.

Certainly, Pheu Thai does not worry about legitimacy. Although it must face those penalties, its government would still be in power despite them.

The military is not a problem for Pheu Thai either. Experience from the past seems to indicate the military would refrain from staging a coup. However, the government does not trust the military and chooses to use the police as its main force.

A key Pheu Thai member said a successful military coup would involve holding the PM hostage. Also, a government in exile in Chiang Mai or a northeastern province, as well as the red shirts’ force to counter the military, might have been included in any plan.

BANGKOK, Feb 4 – A protesters’ blockade at the Defence office yesterday did not deter caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who insisted on using it as her temporary office and going to work there as usual  today.
Protesters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) yesterday rallied at the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary in an attempt to chase Ms Yingluck out of the building.
The protesters withdrew later in the day after being told that the prime minister had left. Ms Yingluck, however, remained in the building with several Cabinet members until 6 pm.
She said she will go back to work at the Defence office today but the weekly Cabinet meeting is cancelled.
“The Defence office is the place for me to work. It’s not the headquarters of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO),” she said.
CMPO, under the directorship of caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, was once located in the Defence office. It was later moved out after a seizure by PDRC protesters.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, concurrently CMPO chief adviser, stood firm that the prime minister and Cabinet members will not move elsewhere.
“Protesters who seized the headquarters will be legally dealt with in accord with international standards. Police will be in charge of taking action against them. We have warned protesters that they would be arrested if they occupied the Defence office again,” he said.
The caretaker Cabinet has deserted Government House for more than a month after the surrounding areas have been occupied by protesters of the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand.
“We won’t tolerate the protesters’ intimidation any more. We will exercise stricter measures against the protesters who are no longer demonstrating peacefully as claimed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Phra Buddha Issara who has led the seizure of  Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road since last month agreed to allow Justice Ministry officials to enter their office today.
He said protesters will permit the reopening of more government buildings except for the Department of Special Investigation.
The Buddhist monk said the rally stage on Chaeng Wattana Road would not be removed and he would, from now on, concentrate more on negotiations with the authorities. (MCOT online news)