ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
February 8, 2008
Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, known throughout the world as ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's spokesman and legal adviser, assumed his new job by declaring that Thaksin has every right to be given back his diplomatic passport.
Noppadon said Thaksin, whose diplomatic passport was revoked by the ministry at the end of 2006, was entitled to the privilege as enjoyed by other former prime ministers.
The matter would be dealt with accordingly by officials after considering the legal aspects, he told a media conference on his first day at the ministry.
Thaksin, who was ousted by the military in September 2006, lost the privilege after the military junta accused him of engaging in political activities while living in exile.
The pro-People's Power Party, of which Noppadon is the deputy secretary- general, won the Dec 23 general election and the Cabinet was sworn-in yesterday.
Noppadon said his immediate task would be to restore the country's battered image at the international arena, adding that Thailand would continue to have friendly relations with its neighbours and other trading partners.
"After the election, our mission is to restore confidence in the country and bring back the good image in the global arena," he said.
Furthermore, he said, the foreign ministry was one of the four ministries tasked by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to lead the economic team of the new government.
The others are commerce, finance and transport ministries.
Asked which country he planned to visit first, Noppadon said that by protocol, it should be Asean and the itinerary would be finalised by the ministry's permanent secretary.
He will meet Bangkok-based Asean ambassadors today.
On Myanmar, Noppadon said Thailand, which would assume the Asean chairmanship this year, would maintain its policy of non-interference and respect the sovereignty of the military-ruled country.
Asked what he learnt from his stint as Thaksin's legal adviser and spokesman and how it helped in his new duty, Noppadon said the respect for democracy and truth, and carrying his job well were the important thing.