ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai prime minister passed no-confidence vote
Thailand's prime minister comfortably survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Saturday following a heated debate that provided an introduction to w hat can be expected during elections planned for later this year.
The vote came after a four-day censure debate in which the opposition Puea Thai Party accused the government of unjustified killings during last year's anti-government Red Shirt protests, which resulted in about 90 deaths.
The opposition also blamed the government for widespread mismanagement that led to rising consumer prices, a shortage of palm oil and corruption during a contentious debate that pundits called a laundry list of old complaints.
The Puea Thai Party is closely associated with the Red Shirt protest movement, which supports ousted ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra and claims current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took power illegitimately.
Abhisit's term ends in December, but he has said he will call early elections by mid-July.
Lawmakers voted 249 to 184 to keep Abhisit in power until upcoming polls. Nine other Cabinet ministers also survived no-confidence votes by comfortable margins.
In its Saturday editorial, the English-language Bangkok Post called it a ``lackluster debate with an absence of telling punches'' that featured ``the usual bluster and time-wasting, moments of pure farce and bad taste, barely suppressed yawns and occasional flurries of inflammatory rhetoric.''
The editorial called the debate ``a foretaste of the elections'' to come and urged candidates to focus on the future, not the past.
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