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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           17   August  2011

Thai Democrats to target Foreign Minister over Thaksin

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The opposition Democrat Party is seeking to take legal action against Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaikul for helping ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra to enter Japan.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said it was wrong for the government to arrange for Thaksin, who is on the run from justice, to get special permission to visit Japan between August 22-28.

Thaksin was sentenced to two years in jail in 2008 for abusing his authority to help Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, his former wife, to buy prime land in the Ratchadaphisek area at a discount while he was prime minister.

He fled overseas before the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions sentenced him to two years in jail in his absence.

Mr. Abhisit said the Yingluck government is obliged to comply with the verdict and enforce the law by bringing Thaksin back to face justice.

Government officials who are found to help a fugitive could also face prosecution, Mr. Abhisit said.

He said the Democrats' lawyers are looking at legal steps to be taken against Mr Surapong and other government officials who may be involved.

Yukio Edano, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, confirmed that the Thai government requested that Japan issue an entry visa to Thaksin.

Japan decided to issue an entry visa to Thaksin after the Pheu Thai-led government told Tokyo it no longer wished to restrict his overseas travel.

Thaksin said yesterday he would travel to areas hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami during his trip to Japan next week to see what Thailand can do to help its reconstruction efforts, a news report said.

"My intention is to visit the tsunami site to see whether we can render any kind of cooperation or assistance," Thaksin said in an interview with Kyodo News in Dubai.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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