Nov 9, 2012

Thailand - Thai PM among three major targets of censure motions

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Thailand's Democrat Party yesterday unveiled at least three censure targets - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat and Deputy Interior Minister Chatt Kuldiloke - by filing an impeachment motion against them.

It was a surprise that Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom was not an impeachment target as the Opposition has heavily attacked the government's rice-pledging scheme, especially for corruption. A Democrat source said it was the party's strategy but refused to elaborate.

Observers said the Opposition might want to attack Yingluck directly as the head of government, pointing out that it is the Pheu Thai government's policy.

Chatt is expected to be targeted for his performance in his previous position as transport minister. The motion seeks to impeach him retroactively.

The Constitution allows the Opposition to seek impeachment and hold censure debate retroactively against Cabinet members in cases of alleged corruption.

Democrat MP Jurin Laksanavisit, the chief Opposition whip, declined to elaborate on alleged wrongdoings of the three censure targets for fear that the government would be able to raise its guard. Jurin said the full list of censure targets would be announced today.

Jurin said the no-confidence motion had been signed by 155 Democrat MPs and two Rak Prathet Thai MPs. He said the Bhum Jai Thai Party had informed him that it would not join the censure debate.

"I am not worried about Bhum Jai Thai's decision not to join the censure debate. The Democrat party is not worried about being isolated," Jurin said.

"When the no-confidence debate is held the Opposition will be beaten anyway."

It has been speculated that the mainstream Bhum Jai Thai and its Matchima faction are seeking a chance to switch sides to join the coalition.

Democrat MP Naris Khamnurak yesterday complained that Bhum Jai Thai had changed its stand. He said the party had promised two weeks ago that it would sign both the impeachment and censure motions but on Wednesday, the party informed the Opposition whips that it would join only the censure debate without signing the impeachment motion. The party informed the whips at 9am yesterday that it would not join the censure debate either.

The impeachment motion was submitted to Senate Speaker Nikom Waiyarathanich. Nikom said he would inform the Senate of the motion on Monday and would verify the signatures of the MPs within 15 days before passing on the motion to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Sukampol, who now supervises the transport ministry, and Chatt were accused of having siphoned off funds from the budget to repair roads damaged by massive flooding last year.

Earlier, Democrat MPs, who are members of several House panels monitoring the budget spending, investigated and alleged there were irregularities in several flood rehabilitation projects.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said he believed that Bhum Jai Thai had decided against joining the censure debate because the Democrats lacked strong evidence to back their corruption allegations against the government.

Prompong called on Bhum Jai Thai to vote in support of the government when the no-confidence vote is held.

News Desk 

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