Democrats want Suranand out

The Democrat Party is demanding that one of the prime minister's top strategists resign for allegedly trying to block a US media interview with Democrat Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

  • Published: 11/05/2013 at 08:12 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said that Suranand Vejjajiva, the prime minister's secretary-general, had threatened to limit access to government figures if the US journalists spoke to the opposition leader.

The interview with Mr Abhisit was to be part of a special supplement on Thailand being prepared for USA Today, the second-largest newspaper in the United States with a circulation of 1.8 million.

Mr Suranand on Friday denied the Democrats' claims, saying the opposition had tried to distort the facts and discredit the government.

He said that United World, an independent media communications agency, had contacted the PM's Secretariat to ask to interview members of the government for the supplement.

He said he permitted two United World representatives to interview him, but did not to talk to other interviewers.

Mr Chavanond produced emails between USA Today and Mr Abhisit's personal secretary Somkiat Krongwattanasuk about three possible dates when Mr Abhisit would be available for an interview. They agreed on Thursday, May 9.

However, one hour after the date was confirmed, an internal USA Today email was accidentally sent to Mr Somkiat, saying that "Mr Suranand" had said the PM's Office would no longer support the supplement project if the group interviewed Mr Abhisit, so the appointment should be cancelled.

An email was then sent to Mr Somkiat officially cancelling the interview.

Mr Chavanond said that if Mr Suranand did intervene, it would contravene Section 46 of the Constitution. Therefore, he called for the strategist's resignation.

"If Mr Suranand insists on his innocence, he should dare to issue a letter of protest to USA Today in order to express the government's position on no media intervention," said Mr Chavanond.

He also urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to urgently review the position of Mr Suranand as the premier always said that she values democracy and other people's rights.

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