Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has defended her controversial speech, made in Mongolia, insisting it was not aimed at "whitewashing" her fugitive brother and ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The prime minister, who was back in Thailand yesterday, was at the centre of controversy after she made a strongly worded speech at a democracy forum in Ulan Bator.
In the speech she said the 2006 coup had derailed democracy in Thailand and overthrew Thaksin _ the elected prime minister at the time.
Ms Yingluck also criticised independent organisations set up by the military backed 2007 constitution. She said the organisations abused their authority against the will of the people.
Ms Yingluck said yesterday that she did not intend to use her speech to whitewash Thaksin, but she wanted to use it as an uthahorn (lesson learnt) to prevent other undemocratic incidents. "I had no intention of causing divisions," she said.
The speech marked her strongest public statement to date as premier.
Ms Yingluck said her remarks were appropriate since the forum in Mongolia was about democracy.
"It was an exchange of experiences among countries and we want every country to strive for the same goal of real democracy in which the power belongs to the people," she said.
The cabinet yesterday praised Ms Yingluck for her speech.
Sunisa Lertpakawat, a deputy government spokeswoman, described the speech as "sharp and powerful".
The cabinet will disseminate the speech more widely, Lt Sunisa said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the speech made no reference to any individuals _ apparently meaning Thaksin _ but outlined the government's strategy to restore democracy.
The opposition slammed the speech, accusing Ms Yingluck of "lying" about the political situation in Thailand to cover up Thaksin's wrongdoing.
Democrat list-MP and spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said Ms Yingluck had distorted facts and used the forum to deliver excuses for Thaksin, who had fled a court sentence.
The Supreme Court sentenced Thaksin to two years in jail for conflict of interest in the purchase of state land by his ex-wife in Bangkok a decade ago.
Mr Chavanond accused Ms Yingluck of abusing her premiership for the benefit of Thaksin and their family.
He said Ms Yingluck claimed the 2006 coup against the Thaksin government harmed democracy, but she failed to mention corruption, intervention with independent organisations and other abuses of authority that took place before the coup.
Ms Yingluck claimed that anti-government protesters in 2010 were calling for democracy, but they were not, he said.
Mr Chavanond accused Ms Yingluck of being among the red-shirt protesters who closed Ratchaprasong intersection in 2010. A court has ruled their protest violated the constitution and the rights of other people, he said.
"Ms Yingluck dared say that snipers killed people. I think she doesn't know, or pretends not to know, that protesters were armed," he said.
"Government offices, provincial halls in six northeastern provinces and 36 locations in Bangkok were torched," he said.
Mr Chavanond said soldiers protecting the nation were among the 91 people who died during the crackdown.
He called her speech a "shameful distortion of facts".
Mr Chavanond said he hoped that his comments would reach the participants of the forum in Mongolia.
Meanwhile, former deputy police chief Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn commented on his Facebook page that Ms Yingluck's speech sounded as if a government in exile was asking other countries to help it return to power.
He said the speech and threats to the Constitution Court were part of Thaksin's plans to control the country.
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Writer: Pradit Ruangdit & Patsara Jikkham