Yingluck distances speech from Thaksin
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, back in Thailand on Tuesday, defended her Mongolia speech, insisting she has no intention of defending elder brother Thaksin, ousted by the 2006 coup she so strongly condemned.
- Published: 30/04/2013 at 05:03 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivers a speech at the Conference of the Community of Democracies in Ulan Bator on Monday. It draws criticism by her oppoents after it is circulated. (Photo courtesy of Government House)
The prime minister was at the centre of controversy after a strongly worded speech at the Ulan Bator democracy forum on Monday, during which she criticised the 2006 coup for derailing democracy in Thailand. She said it overthrew Thaksin, "the rightfully elected Prime Minister".
Ms Yingluck told reporters at Government House Tuesday that the much-discussed speech was not aimed at whitewashing her big brother, or widening rifts in the country. Rather, it explained her own opposition to future coups in Thailand.
"I wanted it to be a reminder of (the setback of the coup) with no intention to stir division," she said.
The speech was her strongest public statement ever on Thaksin, and on the political situation since taking office two years ago.
The prime minister said in the speech that the military junta installed by the coup ended her brother's popular projects designed to serve "the people's wishes" and blasted independent agencies set up by the 2007 constitution written under military rule. She said the agencies abuse authority, and act against the will of the people.
She also urged other countries to help protect democracy in Thailand and to stop "anti-democratic regimes" worldwide.
Pheu Thai MPs and red-shirt members were at odds with the Constitution Court even as she spoke. They accused the court and justices of trying to block the party's attempts to amend the charter.
Thaksin was sentenced in absentia in the post-coup era to two years in jail by the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions. He was convicted of aiding his then-wife, Khunying Potjaman, to win a bid to buy land in the Ratchadaphisek area.
The prime minister told the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that organisers of the Conference of the Community of Democracies in Mongolia, where she spoke, had offered Thailand the chance to host the forum in 2015, said Lt Sunisa Lertpakawat, a deputy government spokeswoman.
Ms Yingluck's ministers praised her statement, saying it truly reflected the reality of the country.
Lt Sunisa called it "sharp, powerful and right to the point" in showing the consequences of the coup, and explained the present situation in Thailand to the international community.
Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut Saikua, a prominent red shirt, said the speech warned those trying to derail the government in the future of they consequences they would face. "Those in power at independent agencies should bear in mind that Thailand is not alone in the international community,'' Mr Natthawut said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the speech had no reference to any individual - apparently meaning Thaksin - but outlined moves of the government to restore democracy.
Ms Yingluck had critics, however.
Former deputy police chief Vasit Dejkunjorn accused the prime minister of "telling a lie" and of uttering "disgusting" comments that tried to blame others for the misconduct of her brother.
The messages in the speech were as though she was the leader of an exiled government seeking help from other countries to return administrative power to her, Pol Gen Vasit wrote on his Facebook page.
Pol Gen Vasit linked the speech and the attempt to oust the court to a strategy by Thaksin to gain absolute control of power in the country.
Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut accused the prime minister of intentionally distorting facts. Those included the reasons behind the coup after Thaksin abused his power and interfered in independent agencies, and the death of soldiers and protesters in the May bloodshed three years ago.
The opposition party will write an open letter to explain what the prime minister had omitted in the speech centering on alleged corruption by Thaksin and his abuse of authority, all leading to the coup, he added.
Her speech also sparked wide reactions in the prime minister's own Facebook page, where opponents and supporters left comments.
One wondered why she had "used the forum to damage her own country" while others praised her for courage and leadership.
"Nobody loving this country does the damage and mixed personal affairs with national interest,'' one said.
But her supporter commented that "the speech was most impressive".
"The speech shows the value of democracy. Thailand is like a train derailed after her brother was ousted by the coup," another wrote.
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- Writer: Online Reporters
- Position: Online Reporters